Saturday, 17 May 2008 4:20 AM

Threats Made to Fiji's Australian High Commission

The Australian High Commission in Fiji is on full alert and requesting the Fiji Government to allow Australian Federal Police officers in to be part of the security at the High Commission following the second death threat made to High Commissioner, James Batley.

Reports from Fiji media state that the Australian High Commission is on full alert and has stepped up security, more so after the second death threat was received.

The first death threat was received last week on Wednesday when a taxi driver delivered a letter to the Australian High Commission. Investigation revealed that a man had hired the taxi and asked the driver to deliver the letter. Local police are trying to ascertain the identity of the man and locate him.

According to the Fiji Times Online, following the first death threat, police 'beefed up security at both the residence of the High Commissioner James Batley and at the Embassy' and that the 'Special Police Unit has been assigned to provide security which includes the police dog and patrol units'.

However, yesterday, according to the Fiji Sun, the High Commissioner, Mr. James Batley, received a second threatening letter which has the Commission on 'highest security alert' and prompting it to review its security arrangements.

There has been discussion that the threats are related to the current relations between the Fiji government and the Australian government. Australia has been very vocal about its views on the coup and the interim government and the lack of progress towards a democratic election. Relations further soured following recent deportations of two publishers of Fiji's major newspapers, both Australian cititzens.

Meanwhile, according to the Fiji Times, the 'Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Steven Smith has requested the interim Government to allow the Australian Federal Police officers to join the High Commission staff in Suva'.

'Mr Smith said this is for them to provide additional close personal protection and security following the second death threat to High Commissioner James Batley' and 'he also requested additional security services to be provided by the Fiji Police to Australian High Commission staff'.