NFP President instructs his lawyers to take legal action against Police
Sunday 17th May 2020
I have instructed my lawyers to take legal action against the Police after I was detained by them for 36 hours last month.
On 21 April this year Police officers arrived at my home in Delasui Village, Tailevu just after midnight. They told me that I was being detained for making statements causing public alarm. I had publicly criticized the Police for their violent assault on a villager at Naqia in my province.
That night I was taken to Totogo Police Station in Suva. I was kept in custody for all of 21 April. I was ready to be questioned with my lawyer present from 9am on 21st April. However my interview was repeatedly delayed. I was then kept in custody for another night. I was released on 22nd April, after about 36 hours of detention, on medical grounds.
I am a Member of Parliament. While this does not give me any special privileges, the Police should know that I am not going to hide from them. So there was no reason for the Police to detain me in the middle of the night, or at any time.
If they wished to question me, they could easily do this during the day. They did not have to lock me up.
However, through the period of the coronavirus restrictions, this is what the Police have done, to dozens of people. Another Opposition MP was detained for a longer period before being charged. Few of those detained needed to be locked up.
They were not a flight risk.
This, in fact, was simply the Police exercising their own form of punishment. That is not their job.
The Police’s job is to charge people who they believe have committed criminal offences. Then the Police must let the Courts decide if those people are guilty. If they are guilty the Courts must decide the punishment.
The Police cannot detain people without good reason. They have the legal right to hold suspects for up to 48 hours before bringing them to Court.
But that does not mean that they can just do that at any time and for any reason. They must exercise their judgment properly about any decision to detain a suspect.
I am bringing this action to ensure that the Police are held accountable and made to understand their proper role in a civilized society.
The public should have confidence in the Police. Instead, we are now at the point where many people live in fear of them.
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