Fijian authorities have sacked three prison wardens over an online video that appears to show officials beating and torturing two men, the Pacific nation’s prisons department said today.
The graphic video, posted on YouTube last week, attracted condemnation from the UN Commission on Human Rights and Amnesty International.
Apparently shot using a mobile phone, it shows one handcuffed man being savagely beaten with batons and metal bars, and another being set upon by a dog as the animal’s handler urges it on.
“I can confirm that three prison officers have been sacked in relation to the video that was posted on the Internet last week,” Fiji Prisons and Corrections Service spokeswoman Ana Tudrau Tamani told AFP.
She declined to provide further details, saying a police investigation into the video was still underway.
Amnesty International has said it suspects the footage was taken last year and shows prison escapees being abused after their recapture.
Fiji’s military leader Voreqe Bainimarama, who seized power in a 2006 coup, said last week that he would stand by officers implicated in the video, arguing they were just doing their duty and “making sure we sleep peacefully at night“.
Bainimarama has also dismissed concerns expressed by non-government organisations about the video, saying they “are paid by the international community to jump up and down every time we do something“.
Fijian pro-democracy group The Citizens Constitutional Forum said Bainimarama’s comments showed a lack of commitment to human rights in the face of numerous allegations of serious violations by the security forces.
“In making that statement he condones the violation of human rights and undermines the powers of the institution of the rule of law and justice in Fiji,” the forum’s executive director Reverend Akuila Yabaki told Radio New Zealand.
Bainimarama rules Fiji by decree and has curbed freedom of speech and assembly since taking power, as well as muzzling local media.
He has promised elections in 2014 but earlier this year introduced rules which effectively abolished most of the country’s political parties and imposed restrictions on who can stand for office.