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FWCC claims rise in abuse

Felix Chaudhary
Friday, February 23, 2018

FIJI Women's Crisis Centre co-ordinator and former Fiji Human Rights Commission commissioner Shamima Ali said the alleged torture of nine youths from Waikubukubu Village in Tavua was "very disturbing".

She claimed the alleged torture in Tavua was not an isolated case and there had been an increase in the use of beatings, assaults and threats over the past few years.

"We are very concerned because these kinds of allegations and stories are escalating in numbers," she claimed.

Ms Ali claimed a lot of these types of incidents were not reported because of threats made by police.

"We applaud the courage of these nine young men in choosing to come forward and tell their story. While it is good that they came out, it is equally important that they are protected by police." Ms Ali said the alleged Waikubukubu incident was also very worrying because it was allegedly carried out by officers the public turned to for protection.

Ms Ali added when she was with the Fiji Human Rights Commission about a decade ago, incidents such as the alleged torture in Tavua were investigated immediately.

"As soon as cases like these were reported, the commission on its own volition would begin its own investigations and I do hope the Fiji Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission has already begun to look into the matter."

"The commission is there on state-related abuses and when the state fails, that's when the commission steps in."

Fiji Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission director Ashwin Raj said the commission was preparing to undertake its own investigation into the incident.

"The commission has the constitutional powers to investigate on its own motion and the commission is in the process of contacting the victims of this alleged case of police brutality," he said.

"It is only procedurally correct that the police be given an opportunity to respond to these allegations and the matter referred to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions should there be any veracity to these very serious claims."

Meanwhile, Social Democratic Liberal Party youth president Jope Koroisavou issued a statement yesterday calling for an end to the alleged torture of persons in custody.

He claimed he was detained for participating in a march in support of torture victims last year.

Mr Koroisavou said the alleged "humiliating and brutal ordeal" endured by the nine youths from Waikubukubu, Tavua, who claimed they were tortured last month, should never have happened.

"I, in no way condone the cultivation of marijuana and nobody deserves to be raped for being suspected of any such crime," said Mr Koroisavou.

He said this alleged culture of brutality by our authorities must stop if we were serious about nation building and active participation of youths in Fiji.

Acting Deputy Commissioner of Police Rusiate Tudravu has reiterated the commissioner's stand on the alleged abuse of authority by officers and assured that a fair and thorough investigation would be conducted.

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