Fiji scouts banned from NZ

Last updated 00:00 01/01/2009

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Ten Fijian children have been banned from entering New Zealand for a Scout Jamboree in Christchurch, Pacific radio NiuFM reports.

They are the latest victims in an often erratic ban imposed by the government as part of its
smart sanctions on Fiji's military regime.

Christchurch is this week hosting a regional Scout Jamboree including a 47-strong Fiji delegation.

Their leader, Ratu Meli Saukoro Yabakivou, told NiuFM that another 10 children were affected by the sanctions which ban people who have family in the military from coming to New Zealand.

Ratu Meli says it's unfortunate the children, aged from 10 to 13, have to pay for their parents or relatives affiliations with the military.

"We applied for the visas but the New Zealand High Commission were very frank and told us that if we applied we would not get them, so we did not apply," he said.

Under the sanctions New Zealand banned a football goalkeeper whose girlfriend's father was in the military and two netballers. The Fiji Rugby Sevens side were denied transit visas enroute to Dubai, but the same group will be allowed to play in the Wellington Sevens next month.

Fiji's military appointed Education Minister Netani Sukanaivalu was last month allowed to attend a conference in Auckland, and several close family members of military strongman Voreqe Bainimarama live in New Zealand, including his daughter who lives with her Fijian husband who is a soldier with the New Zealand Army at Trentham.

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- Fairfax Media

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