Continued Police Brutality Creates an Environment of Distrust

On Monday (27/04/15) the Fiji Times reported “Children watch senseless beating”, describing the alleged beating of Sakisua Niulala by the police. Incidents such as this further entrench an already wary relationship between the public and the police.

Numerous cases of police brutality against detainees over the years have become a pressing issue in Fiji. A lack of accountability and transparency within the security forces disturbingly marries the issue reflecting the widespread and gripping culture of abuse of power within the authorities in the country.

Repeated cases of inhumane and degrading treatment of suspects sends a message that much more work is needed enabling members of the security forces and the public to understand and discourage such acts. Security personnel have the ultimate duty and responsibility to practice, protect and enforce the law and constitutional rights.

Members of the public must be encouraged to report such acts of degrading treatment. Repeated incidents of abuse of power by security forces has fostered a relationship of fear and distrust amongst the public and authorities, and threatened public confidence that the Police Force will serve and protect their interests. This culture of abuse of power by authorities must be addressed to safeguard public interests and to reinforce confidence in security forces.

Every person has the absolute right to freedom from cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment or punishment, which must be upheld by all institutions regardless of their status in society. Section 11 of the Constitution upholds this right. The State is on track to ratifying the United Nations Convention Against Torture (UNCAT) as well as qualifying its candidature to the Human Rights Council in 2016.

As defenders of human rights, CCF commends the Police Commissioner, Ben Groenewald’s immediate response to the incident and looks forward to a thorough, independent and transparent investigation into Sakiusa Niulala’s case.


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