28 Oct 2009

US says Christian crusade curbs freedom of religion in Fiji

10:13 am on 28 October 2009

The US State Department says the respect of religious freedom in Fiji has suffered under the interim government in the past year.

The Department's Report on International Religious Freedom points to the nation-wide Christian crusade by the Police Commissioner Esala Teleni which made it mandatory that all police officers and their families are to attend, regardless of their religion.

The head of the police reportedly lashed out at some senior Indo-Fijian police officers whom he accused as being liars and backstabbers.

There were also reports of Hindu and Muslim police officers joining the commissioner's church for fear of being denied promotions or losing their jobs.

The police say the Christian crusades were successful, resulting in a 50 percent decrease in crime.

The US report notes that freedom of religion was provided for in the constitution but in April, the former president abrogated it.

The interim regime says it will start work on a new constitution in three years.