NGOCHR: Coalition: There must be no impunity for torture
14th July 2016

The Fiji NGO Coalition on Human Rights condemns all acts of torture and welcomes the launching of a police investigation into recent allegations. The group was responding to photographs of farmers who were the alleged victims of torture at the hands of police and military officers in 2009. The photographs were initially circulated on social media, before being covered by the news media.

“We welcome Police Commissioner Qiliho’s response to these allegations of torture, in launching an immediate investigation. This is important because the authorities bear the responsibility for ending impunity for torture – it is a crime and an extremely serious violation of human rights. There must be justice for the victims,” said Coalition Chair, Tara Chetty.

“It is very troubling that joint police and military operations continue even today, with reports of officers from both forces arresting alleged marijuana farmers in the Navosa hills yesterday. What measures have been put in place to protect such detainees from torture? And why is the military involved in civilian policing?”

The Coalition has highlighted three critical issues that must be addressed:

1. How to ensure the promise of an investigation is followed-through and carried out independently. This could include the involvement of the Fiji Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission and relevant human rights bodies to further ensure transparency in the process.
2. The need for a systematic approach to addressing torture, which can bring an end to impunity for such grave human rights violations. We welcome plans for video recording of interviews and other attempts to address violence against detainees.
3. The separation of the police and military, with full and adequate resourcing of the police to carry out their role in law enforcement. This would include adequate and ongoing training and upskilling to prevent and investigate acts of torture.

“We must bring the perpetrators to justice, and ensure that what Jim Kusi, Vilimoni Mateiwai and a third farmer experienced is never repeated,” Chetty said.

The NGO Coalition on Human Rights is a coalition of civil society organisations that works towards a Fiji that respects and protects human rights and fundamental freedoms within the framework of the rule of law.

 

END