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35+ years of activism & feminism in Fiji

Published

01 May 2022

Author

Fiji Women's Rights Movement

Themes

NGOCHR PR: Police Brutality Sign of Failing Democracy 1/05/2022

NGOCHR Press Release: Police Brutality Sign of Failing Democracy 

1/05/2022 

The NGO Coalition on Human Rights (NGOCHR) is deeply disturbed with recent allegations of police brutality surfacing yet again in Fiji. The allegations are not new, and neither are they originating from single events or affected persons. Social media posts and videos emerging of people being detained well over 48 hours from the time of arrest to tampering with people’s personal properties and erasing evidence of wrongdoing in public spaces - these are troubling signs of a failing democracy which is beginning to resemble a police state.  

In a true democracy, citizens can and should be able to exercise their freedom to document public service, and have access to public facilities, and this should not be taken away, in any circumstance. Imposing authoritarian rules only serve one purpose – to silence the voice of ordinary citizens. This must stop.   

Public service providers, such as the Police, are just that – service providers, and they should not be allowed to act beyond the service that they are supposed to provide. It is disappointing that the Police as keepers of the law, need to be regularly reminded to undertake their work without infringing on the rights of individuals in this country.  

We know that when individual human rights are taken away, albeit slowly, each right in its own subtle way, that it contributes to a crumbling democracy. This is because democracy is founded on the principles of upholding human rights and its own accountability processes. When someone is detained over a long holiday weekend, even if they are not ultimately arrested thereafter, the time lost, and more significantly, the trauma faced with having one’s personal liberty taken away for any period of time, is something that no one deserves to experience.  

Treat people with respect, especially if you are a duty bearer.  

As Fiji holds its general elections this year, one only wonders how stable our “democracy” is. It seems that we are always only an arrest away from showing how fragile this democracy is. We desperately need to do better. 

Ends