(New York) - In a letter sent today marking the two-month anniversary of interim Prime Minister Voreque Bainimarama’s military coup in Fiji, Human Rights Watch called on him and President Ratu Josefa Iloilo to ensure the swift return to an elected government.

In addition, Human Rights Watch called on them to immediately and publicly make an unambiguous commitment that fundamental human rights will be respected and those who exercise them will be protected. An independent investigation into the death of a person in military custody, and allegations of arbitrary detentions, beatings, and harassment of more than a dozen individuals by the military should be first steps towards helping restore confidence.

Human Rights Watch particularly noted:

  • The detentions without warrants of at least two dozen people, including civil society activists, private citizens, and members of the business and media communities for criticizing the military;
  • The death in military custody of Nakelo Verebasaga, a land surveyor;
  • The military’s placing on leave of two senior members of the judiciary considered opponents of the military government’s efforts to suspend the constitution; and,
  • Iloilo’s and Bainimarama’s statements supporting the extension of legal immunity to all coup members.