Fiji Has No 'State Sanctioned Policy Of Torture;' Attorney-General

Sayed-Khaiyum rejects recommendations of Amnesty International report on torture

By Nasik Swami

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, Feb. 10, 2017) – There is no State sanctioned policy of torture in Fiji.

This was revealed in Parliament by Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum yesterday as government made it clear it would not adhere to the recommendations of the recent Amnesty International (AI) report on torture in Fiji.

The report titled Beating Justice: How Fiji's Security forces get away with torture detailed nine instances of police and military brutality since 2007 some of which never resulted in prosecution.

The December 2016 AI report recommended Fijian authorities ensure there was independent oversight, legal framework was reformed and security officials responsible for torture brought to justice.It called for the removal of legal barriers to the prosecution of torture and other ill-treatment, by repealing immunities provided in sections 155 to 158 of the Constitution and Amending section 65 of the Prisons Act to ensure that military and police officers were not given special treatment through early release if convicted of offences.

Responding to a question by Social Democratic Liberal Party (SODELPA) MP Niko Nawaikula on steps Government had taken to implement the recommendations, Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said the report was "legally biased, factually flawed and lacked intellectual integrity".

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said since 2008, AI blatantly made sweeping generalisations which were incorrect in particular by Kate Schuetze (AI researcher), who had worked with Citizens Constitutional Forum (CCF) before.

"We find it difficult to give credence to a report that still refers to the Republic of Fiji Military Forces (RFMF) as Royal Fiji Military Forces."

He said the issues highlighted in the report dealt with torture and police brutality with AI making recommendations to the Parliament, Director of Public Prosecutions Office, Constitutional Offices Commission, the Police Commissioner, RFMF Commander, Corrections Commissioner and the Minister for Defence and National Security.

"To the Fijian Parliament they (AI) said and I quote, address the significant gaps and consolidate the various laws on policing powers on the use of force and ensure that torture and cruel, degrading and inhumane treatment is adequately defined in law, in recognition of the gravity of the offence.

"There are numerous other States that we can name that actually have the Supreme Courts allow torture for example: the Supreme Court of Israel have said torture is allowed if it is to do with the protection of the border of Israel. Australia allows for the putting on of tracking devices for suspects of terrorism.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said Fiji's Constitution had the strongest protection against torture.

"The Government does not tolerate human rights abuses of any kind. They are legally and morally unacceptable and we are determined to bring the perpetrators of these abuses to justice. The records show that we are doing so and that our laws are being enforced. Recently we have some former police officers and a military officer found guilty of some offences.

He said the researcher of AI did not even meet the DPP but wrote a report on the DPP.

"Only after the report was released to the public then she went and sat outside his office trying to meet up with him to try and correct something she had done wrong."

Yesterday, Ms Schuetze took to Twitter saying she was grateful that the Fijian Parliament was discussing critical human rights issues.

Fiji Times Online.
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