PM against human rights abuses

PRIME Minister Voreqe Bainimarama says he does not condone human rights abuses of any kind and warned that perpetrators of such abuses would be brought to justice.

While opening the Regional Workshop on the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (UNCAT) in Sigatoka yesterday, he said he did not tolerate human rights abuses of any kind.

“And we are determined to bring the perpetrators of such abuses to justice,” he said.

“The record shows that we are doing so — that our laws are being enforced.”

“Our police commissioner is currently investigating whether excessive force was used in the recent apprehension of a group of suspected criminals in Navua that was captured on video by a passer-by.

“We also have a trial in Lautoka for the alleged rape and subsequent death of a detainee, Vilikesa Soko.”

Mr Bainimarama said it was worth placing such issues on a wider social context.

“We have long had a culture in Fiji of people resorting to violence.

“Whether it is against women in the home, instilling discipline in our children or the police attempting to extract confessions from criminal suspects.

“This culture of what we call the buturaki – the beating – is deeply ingrained in parts of the Fijian psyche.

“But it is simply not acceptable in the modern age.”

Mr Bainimarama said Government had embarked on a process of culture change starting in schools.

“There, we have banned corporal punishment in the hope that if children aren’t beaten institutionally, they don’t grow up beating others.

“And we are saying far more forcefully than we have said in the past that violence in any form has no place in Fijian life.”

He assured the regional participants that Fiji has never had a state policy that encouraged torture.

“We do not have and never have had a State-sanctioned policy of torture in Fiji.

“We do not have and never have had a State-sanctioned policy of inflicting cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment in Fiji.

“What we have had are occasional problems with individuals or groups of people taking the law into their own hands and violating the human rights of others.

“But I repeat – no act of torture or cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment has been sanctioned by the State.

“And this is in stark contrast with many other countries in the world, including some of the great democracies,” he said.

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