Brutality claim under scrutiny

The Navua Hospital is where the three remaining patients of COVID-19 in Fiji are being kept. Picture: FT FILE

It’s good to note that Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission director Ashwin Raj has confirmed investigations into claims police poured hot water on a suspect have begun.

The commission, he said, was aware of the case and was conducting investigations into the man’s claims.

He said the commission visited Navua Police Station, checked their records and confirmed that the alleged victim of brutality was arrested on the morning of November 4, 2019, and was taken to the Pacific Harbour Police Post and interrogated by three police officers.

His team, he said, also interviewed the alleged victim as well as medical professionals at the Navua Hospital yesterday. The team would file a report after it concluded investigations over the weekend.

Coming in the wake of recent attacks on police officers around the country, special attention will no doubt be focused on this latest development.

According to Mr Raj, where there is sufficient evidence of human rights violations, they will institute proceedings.

It is also encouraging to note the police commissioner Brigadier General Sitiveni Qiliho’s commitment to personally oversee this investigation of his officers. Yesterday, Manasa Rayasidamu remained at the Navua Hospital, suffering from burns on his back and injuries to his ankles. He claimed he was tortured by police during questioning in relation to a robbery last week.

The 27-year-old construction worker claimed that when he denied any involvement in the robbery, police stoned his ankles and as he lay on the ground, they poured hot water on his back before stoning his ankles again. He claimed the officers took him to the Navua Hospital after they had finished torturing him.

The allegations are serious and must be appropriately dealt with. We condemn the recent attacks on police officers around the country, and also expect appropriate action to be taken to get to the bottom of this allegation of police brutality.

This is why special attention will be on how Mr Raj and his team attend to this probe and the cause of action they will take alongside the police commissioner.

The work of our men and women in blue isn’t for the faint hearted. Police officers are expected to be beyond reproach. They are expected to rise up to the challenge of their roles to uphold law and order.

They have a job that can be very stressful. However, with that authority and power they wield, comes a greater sense of responsibility.

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