23 Aug 2003

Fiji HRC defends police commissioner

8:12 am on 23 August 2003

The Human Rights Commssion in Fiji says it supports the downplaying of the country's crime rate by the new police commissioner, Andrew Hughes.

Mr Hughes, an Australian who's been in the job for about two months, has come in for criticism for his statement that the crime rate in Fiji is one of the lowest by world standards.

But Dr Shaista Shameem, the director of the Human Rights Commission, says Mr Hughes is instilling confidence in Fijians, which it supports.

"We haven't received any major complaints about police brutality since he's been around and he's certainly given us an assurance that he wants to professionalise the police force more than it's been in past."

In the past, of course, a lot of the police officers would arrest someone and then extricate a confession by brutalising the person in the police cells, and there was a lot of that and we found it very difficult to get through to the police.

Dr Shaista Shameem.