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Annual Report Fiji
Amnesty International - May 24, 2012
Freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly were severely restricted under continuing military rule. Reports of torture and other ill-treatment were common. Government critics, trade unionists and some church leaders were briefly detained, threatened, intimidated or attacked. Domestic and sexual violence against women and children remained widespread.
Freedom of expression, association and assembly
The Public Emergency Regulations (PER), first enacted in 2009, remained in force and were used to restrict freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.
Torture and other ill-treatment
In July, police questioned and intimidated Virisila Buadromo, the Executive Director of the Fiji Women's Rights Movement, because she had not sought a permit under the PER to hold an internal planning meeting. The police then disbanded the meeting. In early August, Fiji Trades Union Congress (FTUC) President Daniel Urai and Hotels Union staff member Dinesh Gounder were arrested. The two men were charged under the PER for holding a meeting without a permit and then released on bail. In August, the police announced that Hindus would need to seek a PER permit for any religious events of more than 10 people.
Other members of civil society also experienced restrictions to their rights to freedom of association and peaceful assembly.
The Methodist Church Conference was banned in August after the church did not accept government demands for a number of its leaders to stand down. The government had earlier given permission for the Conference to go ahead for the first time in four years. On 15 August, police revoked a permit for the FTUC National Council to hold its regular meeting in Nadi. In November, the Rewa Provincial Council was banned from meeting after its Paramount Chief Ro Teimumu Kepa criticized the coup of December 2006. In November, trade union leaders Daniel Urai and Felix Anthony were arrested. Daniel Urai was accused of defacing public buildings with anti-government graffiti in the capital. He was charged with sedition for "urging political violence" and was released on bail. Felix Anthony was released without charge.
Violence against women and children
In February, Felix Anthony and Maika Namudu were briefly detained and reportedly beaten by military officers at the Queen Elizabeth Barracks. The military detained politician Sam Speight from 21 to 24 February and reportedly beat him until he lost consciousness. Sam Speight was a cabinet minister in the Laisenia Qarase government which was deposed in 2006. He sought medical treatment for his injuries in Australia and subsequently applied for asylum there. In May, former Commander of the Third Infantry Battalion and member of the military council, Tevita Mara, was granted asylum in Tonga. He stated that Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama (as he is commonly known) and other members of the military council had severely beaten human rights activists in December 2006. In September, trade unionist Kenneth Zinck sought asylum in Australia after he and a family member were harassed by members of the security forces. He reported that he had been detained and tortured three times since 2006.
The Fiji Women's Crisis Centre reported an increase in the number of cases of domestic violence in 2011 compared to 2010. The police said that there had been a sharp increase in reports of rape, attempted rape and domestic violence in the third quarter of the year compared to the same period in 2010. An increase in sexual violence against girls and boys within the home was also reported.
The Essential National Industries (Employment) Decree 2011 came into force in September. It restricted collective bargaining rights, severely curtailed the right to strike, banned overtime payments and voided existing collective agreements for workers in key sectors of the economy, including the sugar industry, aviation and tourism.
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