Friday, March 12, 2010

Rinakama in custody

Last week, Fijian politician Peceli Rinakama was abducted by soldiers in Suva. Today, after a week of silence, the regime has finally admitted that he is in custody, though they will not say where or by whom. Neither will they say what he is being held for, though there should be some answers on that soon. Even Fiji's authoritarian Public Emergency Regulations only provide for detention for up to ten days; if Rinakama had been arrested under ordinary law, then the new Criminal Procedure Decree requires prisoners in custody to be taken before a Magistrate "as soon as practicable". The regime wouldn't break its own law, would it...?

(Interestingly, their new Crimes Decree provides for a penalty of seventeen years imprisonment for enforced disappearance - though this must be carried out as part of a sustained campaign against a civilian population. Fortunately, things in Fiji haven't sunk to that level yet)

Its a good example of how making noise about human rights abuse makes a difference. Since being raised on the Fijian blogs, Rinakama's plight has been mentioned in media around the Pacific - in New Zealand, in Tonga, and in the Solomon Islands. If that noise hadn't been made, he'd still be being detained in secret.