The NGO Coalition for Human Rights (NGOCHR) is deeply disturbed and concerned about recent allegations of police brutality, which has resulted in the death of a suspect Mesake Sinu.
“We note the recent comments from the Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission (HRADC) and the Acting Police Commissioner calling for investigations into these cases,” said the NGOCHR Chair Nalini Singh.
“It is extremely worrying that we have multiple reports of police brutality and this is not the first related death recorded this year. There must not be impunity for police violence and the Fiji Government and the Fiji Police Force need to have the strongest condemnation of the use of excessive force and violence by officers of the law.”
Mesake Sinu was a robbery suspect who was allegedly killed in Nadi. Initial reports claimed that Mr Sinu died from injuries sustained after attempting to escape by jumping off of a building. Post mortem reports have ruled out this cause of death and investigations are ongoing. Additionally, another allegation of police brutality has surfaced in Nakasi. A young man was allegedly beaten up by police and taken into custody for breach of curfew.
“From the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in Fiji, hundreds of people have been arrested over breaches. Their rights and dignity should be protected at all times, even if they are detained,” said Ms Singh.
“It is unacceptable that Fiji has made strong international commitments and statements on human rights and yet, the very officers that need to be upholding the law are taking it into their own hands.”
Fiji has ratified the United Nations Convention against Torture (UNCAT) and returned from the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in Geneva earlier this year.
“The human rights of a detained person or of an accused person must be fully respected as guaranteed in the Fiji Constitution (2013). The public needs to be reassured that there is a higher standard of conduct from our police. We reiterate that there should not be any impunity for torture or murder by enforcement and security officers.”
The Coalition joins the call for an independent investigation, of which the results should be made public; and a continued effort at eliminating torture and brutality for Fiji to cultivate a culture of democracy that emphasises rule of law, accountability and equal protection of citizens’ human rights.
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The Members of the NGOCHR include the Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre (FWCC), Fiji Women’s Rights Movement, Citizens Constitutional Forum (CCF), femLINK Pacific, Social Empowerment and Education Program (SEEP), and Diverse Voices and Action (DIVA) for Equality Fiji. Pacific Network on Globalisation (PANG) and Haus of Khameleon (HoK) are observers.