The NGO Coalition on Human Rights is appalled at recent reports of a man dying as the result of alleged police brutality (Fiji Times, Friday 22 August 2014).
If the allegation is correct, then sadly this will not be the first time citizens of this country have suffered and even died at the hands of Fiji’s security forces.
“While we understand that reasonable force is sometimes required to apprehend suspects, we have always maintained our stand that security forces are professionals who possess knowledge of how to restrain suspects without harming them” said NGO Coalition Chair Shamima Ali.” Everyone has the right to a fair trial and to be considered innocent until proven guilty, and the use of excessive force which leads to injuries, or even death, as allegedly occurred in this case, is a denial of that basic fundamental right to due process and a fair trial.”
“Article 5 of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights specifies that no one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Article 3 of the Universal Declaration also specifies that everyone has the right to life. Both these rights are customary international law, are also enshrined in the 2013 Constitution, and are non-derogable rights which means they cannot be taken away from people. So, any argument of resisting arrest does not hold water and cannot and should not be used or even accepted as a justification,” Ali added.
“If this allegation is correct, it is yet another case of blatant abuse of power by our security forces and a gross violation of human rights in this country. It’s happened before and it’s happening again. Every individual, no matter what the crime they have been charged with, is entitled to a fair trial and no one deserves to die in such a manner, especially at the hands of those who are there to uphold the law,” said Ali. “In our experience, the behavior of some police officers towards suspects has been deteriorating and this is a matter of great concern.”
The NGO Coalition is urging the Fiji Police Force to act with transparency and accountability in its investigations into the allegations.