CCF commends ODPP

The Citizens’ Constitutional Forum (CCF) commends the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution (ODPP) for strongly upholding and maintaining high standards of prosecution services in Fiji.

This follows after the Director of Public Prosecutions discontinued murder charges against four people who received unexplained injuries during their cautioned interview while in police custody. An additional factor to this decision was there was no other evidence good enough to submit to the Courts.

“This is clearly the procedural outcome for an alleged act of torture on accused persons in police custody. Incriminating evidence, obtained out of offering inducements, making threats, or use of force or torture, inter alia, to accused persons will never be accepted by Courts of law.”

“The police are encouraged to carry out thorough investigations to save the State’s resources and time. Victims and their families will suffer from lasting societal oppression when situations like these occur” said Chief Executive Officer for CCF Bulutani Mataitawakilai.

On the other hand, Mr Mataitawakilai expressed concerns over an allegation that duress was placed on the interviewing officers by their superiors to deny all allegations of assault. CCF recommends impartial investigations into this matter as well.

“The security forces need to understand that the right to freedom from acts of torture and brutality is non-derogable – meaning that these acts cannot occur under any circumstance.”

[1] As part of their commitment to the end of torture and other cruel and degrading treatment, CCF encourages the State to work with international organizations and NGOs to help our security forces and personnel deviate from the long standing culture of brutality and impunity and to understand our constitutional rights and freedoms as well as those in the UNCAT.

“We expect better from more senior officials and such behaviour should never be accepted. We would like to see mechanisms put in place to address allegations of bullying other police officers, especially for acts of violence in the police force.”

“In addition to timely and impartial investigations into allegations of assault and duress by senior police officers, we would like to see avenues for redress for the victims, with the help of the Fiji Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission, to enforce their right to fair and adequate compensation for these human right violations.”

CCF looks forward to the implementation of the Lawyer of the First Hour Procedure which is anticipated to contribute to a joint effort to stop allegations of police brutality.[2]  As the Secretariat of the Fiji

 

[1] Article 2.2 of the UNCAT

[2] 8 March 2016 Fiji’s Ambassador to the UN Nazhat Shameem initially presented this policy development at the Interactive Debate on the Report of the Special Rapporteur on Torture at the Human Rights Council. http://webtv.un.org/topics-issues/observers/watch/clustered-id-contd-sr-on-violence-against-women-and-sr-on-idps-9th-meeting-29th-regular-session-of-human-rights-council/4302131813001#full-textLater in March 2016, a Fiji Delegation to Geneva and the UK attended the Lawyer of the First Hour Procedure workshop.

 

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