12 Mar 2013

Fiji Human Rights Commission's role to investigate beatings says former head

2:48 pm on 12 March 2013

The former head of Fiji's Human Rights Commission, Shaista Shameem, says the commission has a duty to verify and investigate a video showing the beating of two men, believed to be recaptured prisoners.

The Fiji government has rejected calls for an independent inquiry into the incident which has sparked a police investigation and condemnation by Amnesty International.

Dr Shameem says during her time at the Human Rights Commission most complaints were from prisoners and the body immediately acted on any brutality allegations with a 100 percent success rate in court.

The commission has been without a director since Dr Shameem left in 2009 but she says the taxpayer-funded body is still in existence and empowered to investigate and prosecute whether there has been a complaint made or not.

"Somebody can call them to account. I mean anyone can question the existence of the commission and wonder and ask why it is that the commission staff are not doing anything about these alleged events and what are they doing in that office?"

Dr Shameem says there are an array of institutions in Fiji which could conduct an inquiry including the courts under the leadership of the Chief Justice.

The Human Rights Commission's officer in charge Rajinesh Mishra says it is not making any statements at this stage.