Solomons PM Remains Committed To Anti-Corruption Legislation

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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

Opposition calls bill ‘propaganda’ as little progress has been made

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Nov. 13, 2015) – An NGO in Fiji is appalled the Republic of Fiji Military Forces decided to recruit three suspended police officers charged with the alleged sexual assault of an escaped prisoner three years ago.

The officers are Sanita Laqenasici, Jona Davonu and Semesa Nadukam. A Fiji military officer and a soldier also face the same charges.

Coalition on Human Rights' Chair, Shamima Ali, says the announcement by Colonel Sitiveni Qiliho on the recruitment of these police officers is a major concern because it sets a worrying precedent that members of the security forces are allowed to carry out violent acts with impunity and protection provided by the Fiji Military Forces.

Colonel Qiliho stated in a recent media report that the RFMF recruited the officers as they were being "left on their own".

The Commissioner of Fiji Police Force, Ben Groenewald had suspended the three officers pending investigations into the allegations against them.

Mr Groenewald has since resigned citing interference of the military in the work of the judiciary and police in cases that involve soldiers accused of torture and rape.

[PIR editor’s note: RNZI reported that ‘A youth leader in Fiji is concerned that cases against military soldiers and police could be shelved after the resignation of Police Commissioner, Ben Groenewald. ... Peter Waqavonovono understands Mr Groenewald's resignation is to do with interference of the military in the work of the judiciary and police in cases that involve soldiers accused of torture and rape. ... Mr Waqavonovono says people are worried there'll be a repeat of what happened after Australian Andrew Hughes was sacked by the military in 2006. ... "The last time a police commissioner was asked to leave, the cases were actually dropped and these were cases against the current prime minister Frank Bainimarama on his alleged involvement during the 2000 mutiny." ... Peter Waqavonovono says there's unease over the appointment of Mr Qiliho as the acting police commissioner, given he's said the military will stand by the accused men.’]

Shamima Ali says by recruiting the officers, the RFMF has arbitrarily undermined the decision by the Police Commissioner, who acted appropriately according to his Constitutional powers under the Police Act.

Ms Ali says the decision also contradicts the police and military forces' commitment to implement the United Nations Convention against Torture, and the Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama's proclamation that the Fijian Government is determined to not only adhere to the highest standards of justice, fairness, transparency and accountability in Fiji's laws but also subscribe to the highest international codes of behaviour embodied in the United Nations conventions.

She says we need to ensure that these officers, including those who are alleged to have been involved in other acts of brutality perpetrated by the security forces are held accountable under the law.

Shamima Ali also added that investigations are to continue without any threat of intimidation or interference from other state institutions.

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