August 17, 2016 10:45 am

Qiliho tells police officers to respect human rights

Police Commissioner Brigadier-General Sitiveni Qiliho has urged Police officers to understand and adhere to the norms and principles of human rights in light of recent cases reported on social networking sites. In his address during the opening of the Human Rights workshop facilitated by the United Nations High Commissioner’s office yesterday, the Brigadier General admitted that an area […]

Police Commissioner Brigadier-General Sitiveni Qiliho has urged Police officers to understand and adhere to the norms and principles of human rights in light of recent cases reported on social networking sites.

Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho at the opening of the human rights workshop in Suva yesterday. FIJI POLICE
Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho at the opening of the human rights workshop in Suva this week. (Fiji Police Force)

In his address during the opening of the Human Rights workshop facilitated by the United Nations High Commissioner’s office yesterday, the Brigadier General admitted that an area that draws criticism for the Police is the effecting of arrests and detention of suspects and accused persons.

QILIHO: “I cannot deny the fact that as an institution our understanding and at times the adherence to the norms and principles of human rights have been both questionable and unacceptable. The 2013 Constitution provides a chapter on Bill of Rights ensuring individuals enjoy rights as human beings. Recently some issues have cast a negative shadow over our institution because some of us had forgotten the fact that their authority as law enforcement officers is not absolute.”

The Police Commissioner said that Police officers failed to effect the basics during situations of arrest and the issue was a critical one for the Force to address.

He then drew on the photos that surfaced on social networking sites recently from arrests made in 2009 and the behavior of the arresting officers.

QILIHO: “One of the major negatives which I hope to put to rest later this week is that of the photos that surfaced on social media about the alleged conduct of some of our officers back in 2009. And even after I do this, I have no doubt that the issue will still resurface and used against us. Could it have been avoided? Definitely yes, it could have been avoided. So what can we do about it now? We can learn and ensure history does not repeat itself.”

One of the main reasons for such behavior, Brig-Gen Qiliho added, is officers’ resistance to change and being accustomed to doing things a certain way.

QILIHO: “We work according to the law, and not according to our individual interpretation of the law. It’s that simple!”

Fiji had recently ratified the Convention Against torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment (CAT) in March 2016 and the workshop will help align the legal frameworks to related international standards.