NGO Coalition on Human Rights

Towards a Fiji that respects and protects human rights

P.O Box 12882 Suva, Fiji Ph: 679-3313 300

Tuesday September 25, 2012

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

The NGO Coalition on Human Rights has called for an investigation into the alleged brutality perpetrated against the escapees saying the rights of each individual should be respected.

"The alleged beating of the escapees is a gross violation of human rights. The rights of all people should be recognised regardless of who they are," said Shamima Ali, Chair of the NGO Coalition on Human Rights. 

"The Universal Declaration of Human Rights applies to every single person and it clearly states that everyone has the right to a fair, independent and public trial (Article 10) and that torture, cruelty and degrading treatment or punishment are not allowed (Article 5)," said  Ali. 

 The Coalition says that the security forces are supposed to protect the rights of all citizens within the context of the law. 

"We are unclear about how they were injured but we are concerned about the use of excessive force and brutality because  while reports are sketchy it seems that these men are unable to appear in Court," said Ali.

The Coalition also said that the use of "reasonable force" is also questionable in particular when there was the involvement of the military. "We would like to question the involvement of military officers in the apprehending of prison escapees as this is Police work and they should have the capacity to do its mandated work with independence and without interference," said Ali.

The Coalition says that the presence of a military ambulance at the scene prior to the capture shows intention for possible injuries.

"We have heard of recent health emergencies where there were no ambulances available and yet in this situation, there was an ambulance ready - this is highly suspicious," said Ali.

The NGO Coalition recognises that it was foolhardy for these 5 men to escape and engage in the bold robberies but the law must take its course and cases must be dealt with in the courts  to ensure that no one is above the law.

Members of the security forces should therefore be held accountable for their actions in the capture of the escapees.

ENDS.