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Report highlights delayed prosecutions

 

Apr 06, 2021 12:42:23 PM

Report highlights delayed prosecutions Slow judicial processes and the impression of impunity in police cases are reasons why some police officers still haven’t been prosecuted for misconduct since 2017.

This has been highlighted by the 2020 US Country Reports on Human Rights Practices.

The report also stated that this is happening because there is no independent oversight mechanism for the security forces.

“Trials have yet to begin for the alleged July 2019 police beating of Pelasio Tamanikoula or for the alleged November 2019 police beating of prisoner Manasa Rayasidamu.

“The three officers accused in the Manasa Rayasidamu case were suspended and brought to court on November 22 and charged with causing grievous harm.

“Other unresolved cases date back as far as 2017,” the report stated

The 2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices said the misconduct was happening as there was no independent oversight mechanism for the security forces.

“In brief, the legal framework means that no investigation can be initiated or disciplinary action taken against a police officer without the consent or approval of the police commissioner.

“Authorised investigations were usually conducted by the Internal Affairs Unit, which reports to the police commissioner, who decides the outcome of the complaint.

“Information about the number of complaints, investigatory findings, and disciplinary action is taken is not publicly available,” the report said.

The Human Rights Report said impunity remained a problem in the security forces in some politically connected cases.

“The constitution provides immunity from prosecution for members of the security forces for any deaths or injuries arising from the use of force deemed necessary to enforce public order.

“It provides immunity for the president, prime minister, members of the cabinet, and security forces for actions taken relating to the 2000 suppression of a mutiny at military headquarters.

“It also protects those that participated in the 2006 coup, and the 2009 abrogation of the 1997 constitution,” the report said.

Thirty-eight police officers were charged by the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution last year for misconduct.

Eight police officers allegedly assaulted two suspects in Tavua on March 26, they were arrested and charged; their first court appearance was September 3.

In April, four police officers allegedly assaulted a 32-year-old man and threw him off a bridge in Naqia village on Tailevu, the man allegedly broke coronavirus curfew rules.

In August, the four, together with a fifth officer charged with obstruction of justice, appeared in court for plea hearings.

Questions have been sent to the Fiji Police Force.

By Nacanieli Tuilevuka


 

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