17 Aug 2016

Fiji police chief updates on alleged brutality case

6:43 am on 17 August 2016

Reports from Fiji say findings are expected soon from a probe into alleged police brutality during a drug operation several years ago.

Fiji's Police Commissioner, Sitiveni Qiliho. April 2016.

Fiji's Police Commissioner, Brigadier General Sitiveni Qiliho Photo: Fiji PM's YouTube channel.

The Police Commissioner Brigadier General Sitiveni Qiliho gave an update on the case at a human rights workshop for senior police officers.

Photos of bloodied and captive men surfaced on social media last month purporting to show beatings by security forces during a drug raid in 2009.

According to Fiji TV, the police chief said he hoped to put the case to rest later this week.

"And even after I do this, I have no doubt that the issue will still resurface and used against us.

"Could it have been avoided? Definitely yes, it could have been avoided. So what can we do about it now? We can learn and ensure history does not repeat itself." said Brigadier General Qiliho.

Fiji TV reported Sitiveni Qiliho stressed that unlawful conduct would not be tolerated in the Police Force and he said lessons could be learnt to ensure history did not repeat itself.

"But in order to make that happen, I'm going to ask you to open your mind and take in all that will be shared over the next few days.

"I believe one of the main obstacles as to why we allow these things to happen, is our resistance to change especially when we are accustomed to doing things a certain way for such a long time.

"However if it is not according to the law and the principles of human rights, then keep it to yourself because it has no place in this institution.

"We work according to the law, and not according to our individual interpretation of the law. It's that simple. "

The Police Commissioner admitted that the Fiji Police Force adherence to the norms and principles of human rights had both been questionable and unacceptable.

He said an area that often attracted criticism was the manner in which arrests and detention of suspects and accused persons were conducted.

The Police Commissioner said no one was above the law.

"Recently some issues have cast a negative shadow over our institution because some of us had forgotten the fact that their authority as law enforcement officers is not absolute.

"An area that often attracts criticism for us is the effecting of arrest and detention of suspects and accused persons.

"This is a critical issue that we must understand irrespective of the rank you hold.

"I believe the reason why we are getting caught up in these situations is because we are failing to do the basics right. " said Sitiveni Qiliho.

Brigadier General Qiliho said the Fiji Police Force could also be under-appreciated and people were quick to pick up on the negatives and make little or no mention of the positives.

"I cannot deny the fact that as an institution our understanding and at times the adherence to the norms and principles of human rights have been both questionable and unacceptable.

"Fiji had recently ratified the Convention Against torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment (CAT) in March 2016.

"I am grateful that this workshop will help us implement and align the legal frameworks and our policies and procedures with the convention and related international standards."

The three day workshop is facilitated by the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights and is a follow up to the previous training held in October last year.