Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Fiji's Leader Stands by Police Accused of Brutality ; Leader Stands by Police in Video, Rejecting Foreign Criticism of Rights Abuses

Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Fiji's Leader Stands by Police Accused of Brutality ; Leader Stands by Police in Video, Rejecting Foreign Criticism of Rights Abuses

Article excerpt

Frank Bainimarama, Fiji's military leader, said he supports the police who were caught on video beating several men, while downplaying accusations of human rights abuses under his governance.

The nine minutes of shaky cellphone footage are hard to watch, not because of the quality but because of the content. A young man lies handcuffed on the bed of a pickup truck, wailing as he is beaten repeatedly with a thick baton. Later, his assailant switches to a metal rod. A snarling dog drags another victim past his laughing attackers, who punch the man relentlessly.

The attackers in the video are, according to officials in the Pacific island nation of Fiji, officers in the country's police force. On Friday, Fiji's military leader, Commodore Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama, also known as Frank Bainimarama, addressed the video for the first time since it surfaced on YouTube last week.

"At the end of the day, I will stick by my men, by the police officers or anyone else that might be named in this investigation," Mr. Bainimarama told a local Web site, Fijivillage.com. "We cannot discard them just because they've done their duty in looking after the security of this nation and making sure we sleep peacefully at night."

Mr. Bainimarama seized power in Fiji, a former British colony made up of about 330 islands in the central Pacific Ocean, in a 2006 coup -- the country's fourth since independence in 1970. He has insisted that military rule was the only way to ensure an end to the spasms of political and ethnic violence that have so often destabilized the country. Since then, however, accusations of human rights abuses have dogged his government, souring relations with its traditional allies, Australia and New Zealand.

In early 2012, Mr. Bainimarama lifted a state of emergency that had been in place since he abrogated the Constitution in 2009, and he reiterated that free elections would be held by 2014.

But in January, he scrapped a draft constitution that had been seen as crucial to any return to democracy. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.