Friday, April 19, 2024
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Tikoduadua responds to Naupoto’s claims

Minister for Home Affairs & Immigration, Pio Tikoduadua has responded to Opposition MP Viliame Naupoto’s by saying that he should check his facts.

Naupoto had accused Tikoduadua of damaging the morale and reputation of the Police Force and interfering in its operations during the “Reclaim the Night” march on Wednesday.

“The Police issued a permit for the march to take place. The conditions of the permit did not ban the wearing of T-shirts in support of West Papua. There would be no reason for such a ban.”

“Fiji is a free country now. People may express themselves (lawfully) as they wish, including on West Papua,” said Tikoduadua.

“On Wednesday 8 March the Minister for Women, Lynda Tabuya, called me to say that the Police were refusing to allow T-shirts in support of West Papua to be worn by marchers. I am, like her, accountable to the people for the actions of the Government. The actions of the Police are within my remit.”

“I have made very clear that the Police must act lawfully and respect the rights of others, including their freedom of expression.”

“In this I am strongly supported by the senior officers of the Fiji Police Force. However some of the unnecessary controlling instincts of the last Government remain ingrained. It seems they will take time to change.”

“A ban on West Papua t-shirts was not lawful or reasonable. I contacted both the Commissioner of Police and the event organizer, Shamima Ali, on her mobile phone. She gave her phone to the officer supervising the march.”

“I told him that I could not see any reason for the ban on t-shirts supporting West Papua. The officer said he would have to take directions from his Divisional Commander.”

“I agreed. As far as I know, the officer in charge of the march received those directions and the march proceeded.”

Tikoduadua said he does not interfere in Police operations and he did not interfere in this case.

“I expressed my views to the Commissioner and the officer supervising the march but I left it to the Police to decide.”

“Fiji is a different country now. The Minister does not tell people what to do.”

“Where there are differences we try to resolve them through discussion and dialogue. That was how we resolved this issue,” he further clarified.

Reginald Chandar
Reginald Chandar
Head of News & Sports | news@fijilive.com

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