| NGOCHR Condemns Disregard of Due Process over draft Police Bill|
The NGO Coalition on Human Rights (NGOCHR) strongly condemns the blatant disregard of due process the Government has the audacity to attempt, by assigning the Ministry of Defence and National Security to oversee the Police Bill 2020.
Any proposed legislation must pass through the parliamentary standing committee. It is not the mandate of the Ministry of Defence and National Security to manage the consultation process nor make amendments to a Bill. Their handling of this particular Bill, a Bill which is of utmost importance to the freedom and safety of all Fijians, raises serious ethical concerns.
A working democracy must protect and ensure good governance, accountability, transparency and due process at all levels, and even more so when passing laws that will infringe on the fundamental rights and freedoms of every Fijian in this country if passed into law by Parliament.
Fiji is facing serious cases of human rights violations where the Police have used excessive force during arrests on individuals.
According to the Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre (FWCC) research data, from May 2015-April 2020, there were 400 police officers who were charged with serious violence offences – this included 16 charges of Rape, 2 charges of Murder and 9 charges of Manslaughter.
This is not the time to rush and pass a Bill that gives the Police more powers over individuals when cases of police brutality have yet to be investigated. We, as the NGO Coalition on Human Rights, have repeatedly called for urgent reviews of the investigation processes to be transparent and timely so that justice is upheld. Where in the proposed Bill are our concerns addressed and articulated?
As a Coalition, we have provided inputs on previous consultation processes on various Bills however, when a Bill is passed by Parliament, our inputs into these consultation processes are not included in the new law. In fact, we wonder whether the inputs of every Fijian to this proposed Police Bill 2020 would even matter or make a difference at all.
If the Government is serious about its international human rights commitments and priorities, then it should not rush this process and genuinely ensure the meaningful engagement of all Fijians and human rights organisations where their concerns are addressed clearly and articulated in the proposed Police Bill 2020.
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The Members of the NGOCHR include the Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre (FWCC), Fiji Women’s Rights Movement, Citizen’s Constitutional Forum (CCF), femLINKpacific, 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.