Saturday, March 16, 2013

Torture in Fiji

The United Nations human rights office has expressed shock by the content of a video showing the apparent torture of two men in Fiji, and called on the Government to ensure the perpetrators are prosecuted and the victims protected. The nine-minute video, which emerged on online social networks, shows two handcuffed men being physically and sexually assaulted by a group of men while lying helplessly in the back of a pick-up truck. “While the circumstances surrounding the video have not yet been ascertained, the acts being carried out in it are clearly illegal, and we condemn them in the strongest terms,” the spokesperson for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Rupert Colville, told reporters in Geneva.

In the video, one of the men is repeatedly struck on his feet, legs, body and head with a number of different implements including a length of rubber pipe, a metal rod, a stick and a hammer. He is later shown stripped of his clothes while others film and photograph him. A second handcuffed man is shown sitting on the ground nearby and is also struck on his body, legs and head with a stick and a rod. A dog is encouraged by its handler to seize him by the shirt and drag him several metres across the ground.

“The Fijian police authorities have stated that they will seek to establish the facts in this case. We welcome this commitment, and urge the Government to ensure that the apparent serious human rights violations are swiftly and effectively investigated by an impartial and competent authority, and that the findings are made public,” Mr. Colville said.  “We also call on the authorities to ensure that perpetrators – who are clearly visible in the video and should be easily identifiable – are brought to justice, and that a concerted effort is made to ensure that this type of treatment is not repeated,” he said. “Victims of the abuse must have access to the necessary medical and psychological support, as well as redress.”

Mr. Colville reiterated the OHCHR’s readiness to assist the Government in their effort to eradicate torture and ill-treatment, and said it will continue to follow the case closely as well as the outcome of the police investigations.

(Adapted from a UN Press Release)

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