Fiji's security forces involved in torture and brutality, says Amnesty International

A damning report from Amnesty International has found Fiji's security forces are involved in an alarming level of torture, brutality and abuse cases.

Since the military coup of 2006 there have been five deaths in custody and other people have suffered serious injuries or been raped.

Our Pacific Correspondent Barbara Dreaver was in Fiji at the time of the coup, and is back in Suva on the ten-year anniversary. Source: Breakfast

Amnesty International's Pacific Researcher Kate Schuetze says accountability for these cases are the exception rather than the rule.

"It's quite extraordinary the level of violence that some of these cases are experiencing ... what makes it different in Fiji I guess is that you have immunities under the constitution which make it very difficult to investigate these," she said.

Police and military brutality in Fiji has been thrust into the spotlight on the tenth anniversary of the coup. Source: 1 NEWS

Ms Schuetze says another problem is that Police and Prisons Commissioners are both senior serving military offices which "blurs the line between these two institutions".

Amnesty International say more accountability is needed and there needs to be an independent mechanism monitoring the security forces so they aren't investigating themselves when cases come to light.

The Fiji Government has recently started speaking out against any violence used by its security forces and earlier this year ratified the UN Convention against Torture.

Father of three beaten, raped and killed

In a October 2016 speech, Prime Minister Bainimarama said that the culture of "what we call the buturaki – the beating – is deeply ingrained in parts of the Fijian psyche".

Among the cases detailed in the report is that of Vilikesa Soko, a 30-year-old man and father of three, who it is stated was beaten, raped and killed in August 2014.

Soko was a suspect in a robbery. After his arrest, he was interrogated, tortured and hospitalised for serious injuries, the report states.

Four days into the ordeal, Soko died of a blood clot in his lung, caused by multiple traumatic injuries, including to his rectum and penis, according to an autopsy report that was leaked online.

In January 2007, two people died from injuries after they were beaten by military officers.

In both cases, the perpetrators evaded justice, being released within a month of being sentenced – serving only a fraction of the four-year sentences imposed.

The allegations are aimed at police, military and prisons, but the government denies any involvement. Source: 1 NEWS