29 Jul 2019

Fiji man claims prison refused him access to son

4:01 pm on 29 July 2019

A Fijian man who claims his son was assaulted by prison officers has not been allowed to see the 20-year-old since the alleged attack more than three weeks ago.

Prison bed generic, prison generic

Photo: Flickr / David Zoppo

Atunaisa Mocelutu believes the Corrections Service is refusing to let him see his son due to him speaking out about the alleged attack at the remand centre in Suva.

Mr Mocelutu said he questioned his son's status when he noticed visible injuries on his body and he was limping to court.

The 60-year-old Suvavou villager claimed his son was punched on the head and face by prison officers after contraband was found on him.

"They are not allowing me to see my son. I don't know how's his health. I don't know what's going on.

"But all I heard from some inmates from the Suva courthouse they (prison officers) are still brutalising my son because of my complaint. They ask him why, why, why your father complain about this brutality."

Atunaisa Mocelutu fears his son will continue to be brutalised until his next court appearance scheduled for October.

He said he had lodged a complaint with police, and had written to the commissioner of prisons, the human rights commission - even to the President of Fiji, Jioje Konrote.

"But nothing has been done," he said.

Mr Mocelutu said the only repsonse he had received was from Mr Konrote's office but it only informed him they would be referring the matter to the relevant authorities.

Mr Mocelutu has also criticised the Fiji Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission over what he called its "procrastination on the issue".

He claimed the commission has been quiet over his son's alleged assault compared to it being vocal in the media on other issues, including racial slurs.

But the commission's director, Ashwin Raj, said while he understood Mr Mocelutu's frustrations, the commission should not be rushed into disclosing its investigations.

Corrections Commissioner Francis Kean said last week it had received a complaint and investigations were continuing.

However, enquiries from RNZ Pacific about whether it would allow Mr Mocelutu to see his son have gone unanswered.

Police spokesperson Ana Naisoro said they were awaiting an update on the issue from the officer-in-charge at the Totogo station where the complaint was lodged by Mr Mocelutu.