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Press briefing notes on Fiji

Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Rupert Colville
Location: Geneva
Date: 8 March 2013
Subjects: 1) Fiji

1) Fiji

We are shocked by the content of a video which has emerged over the past few days on social networks and the internet showing the apparent torture and inhuman and degrading treatment of two handcuffed men.

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 nine-minute video shows a handcuffed man being physically and sexually assaulted, beaten and humiliated by a group of men while lying helpless in the back of a pick-up truck. The terrified man 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. Later in the video, which appears to have been taken on a cell phone, the same man is shown with his underwear removed. Subsequently some of his abusers force him to expose his genitals, 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.

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. Victims of the abuse must have access to the necessary medical and psychological support, as well as redress.

Our Regional Office for the Pacific, which is already working on torture prevention in the Pacific Island States, stands ready to assist the Government in their effort to eradicate torture and ill-treatment. We will continue to follow this case closely as well as the outcome of the police investigations.
According to international human rights law, there is an absolute prohibition against torture, as well as cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

ENDS
For more information or media requests, please contact Rupert Colville (+41 22 917 9767 / rcolville@ohchr.org) or Cécile Pouilly (+ 41 22 917 9310 / cpouilly@ohchr.org)

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