The Citizens’ Constitutional Forum is calling on the State to reinforce its commitment to end Fiji’s culture of torture and brutality by police and military personnel; this was after the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) withdrew the charges of manslaughter against nine security personnel in the Vilikesa Soko case. CCF however commends the ODPP for continuing with the charges of rape.
Vilikesa Soko was suspected of committing robbery in Nadi Town and was arrested during the investigations. He then died allegedly from injuries sustained due to acts of brutality and inhumane treatment during the investigation in August 2014.
Protection from this type of treatment is boasted in section 11 of the Bill of Rights which guarantees freedom from cruel and degrading treatment. Under the Convention Against Torture, which Fiji’s Parliament has unanimously agreed to sign, the right to be free from torture is an absolute and non-derogable right.
However, it is clear that these instruments cannot afford protection to citizens without the support of bold institutions. In February 2015, the ODPP revealed their commendable decision to charge these personnel with manslaughter and rape, demonstrating a commitment to bring those people to justice who thought they were above the due process of the law (FS 12/2/15).
CCF acknowledges that the ODPP’s decision is based on an assessment of sufficiency of evidence. It must first be satisfied that there is sufficient evidence to provide a ‘reasonable prospect of conviction’ against each accused person on each charge.
CCF calls on the ODPP to continue with its commitment to deliver justice and hold security personnel accountable for the death of Vilikesa Soko.