Thursday, 20 March 2008 5:25 AM

Region's Image Marred by Human Rights Abuses

Reports of human rights abuse from around the region has tarnished the region's paradise-like image.

A report by Michael Perry published by the washingtonpost.com states the region's image has been shattered by human rights abuse outlined in the recently released United States human rights report.

Leading examples is the political situation in Fiji with the report stating "the U.S. State Department annual human rights report said security forces and police in Fiji, ruled by its military chief after a bloodless 2006 coup, arbitrarily detained and sometimes abused individuals, resulting in three deaths in 2007".

'"There were numerous instances in which elements of the (Fiji) security forces acted independently," said the report, noting this took place despite interim Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama, who is head of the military, retaining control of the security forces"'.

Besides the instances of abuse by security forces, the report also notes instances of attacks against places of worship and 'rape, domestic abuse, incest, and indecent assault'.

The report also notes similar incidents in Papua New Guinea in which "security forces and police also acted independently and were involved in unlawful killings". It also noted 'instances of voter intimidation, election-related violence, and influence peddling' in the 2007 elections.

'"Post-election violence was common in various parts of the country. In incidents reported, six persons were shot and killed, one was tortured and burned alive, and many others were injured"'.

It also noted that law and order was a problem in the Solomon Islands following the 2006 elections and 'several other island nations like Vanuatu, Tonga, the Marshall Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia, were criticized for abuses which included corruption, exploitation of women and children, unlawful detentions and media intimidation'.