19 October 2016: Media Release – Fiji’s Disciplined Services Must Not Be Armed for National Se
NFP President, Hon Roko Tupou condemned in the strongest terms the latest saga of citizen based expose’s witnessing disciplined services members heavy-handed tactics on suspects or accused persons.
It is a sad day for this country when citizens are either silent or welcoming of these heavy-handed tactics, shortly after the Fiji First Government launched its campaign brochure for a seat on the UN Human Rights Council for 2018 – 2020 and when this Government passed with reservations the UN Convention Against Torture (UN CAT) in Parliament.
Every individual including suspects or accused persons have the right to be treated with dignity and getting beaten up on a major public road is validation why Fiji is not ready to preen at the global level and uphold the rights of the world, when the State can barely respect the rights of its own people.
It is noted that just recently the Geneva Mission pictorially highlighted discussions of the Deputy Commissioner of Police on the Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners aka Nelson Mandela Rules. Even that prioritizes the inherent dignity of prisoners so it is absolutely hypocritical if that kind of understanding is not filtering down to the frontline of the public interface between the disciplined forces and the citizenry.
There have been media reports of suspects or accused persons limping to court after questioning. This is absolutely unacceptable.
The 2013 Constitution makes “Freedom from cruel and degrading treatment” absolute and if disciplined forces remain undisciplined and cannot stay their hands, they have effectively taken the law into their own hands and usurped the role of the courts and they should be taken to task.
While this Government has done well to bring the rights of persons with disabilities up with various policies and ratification of the Treaty, it cannot deflect from these fundamental allegations of human rights violations.
This falls squarely at the feet of the Commissioner of Police and his constitutional mandate is to ensure that his force is fit for purpose. Instead of worrying about arming his police force, he is well advised to stick to the basics and uphold the rule of law at all times.
In addition the Fiji Human Rights and Anti Discrimination Commission would do well to align itself to the Paris Principles so it can actually be an effective guardian of human rights protection in Fiji and take the State to task. A good start would be to re-socialize its original 2004 publication on the “Human Rights Handbook for the Disciplined Services in Fiji” that the Prime Minister endorsed when he was the Commander of the RFMF.
Furthermore all this points to the lack of clarity at the national level and the still evasive National Security Strategy which the PNG Ambassador, Commodore Esala Teleni has been charged with developing. Hon Roko Tupou Draunidalo NFP President