Traditional Fiji Leaders Concerned About Bylaws Which Could Allow Police To Enter Villages

Alleged police misconduct does not help reputation of police

By Serafina Silaitoga

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, Feb. 15, 2017) – The proposed village bylaw which states police shall be given access to conduct investigations within village boundary has been greatly argued at provincial consultations.

During consultations at Cakaudrove, Bua and Macuata, district reps and traditional leaders argued that past media reports highlighting alleged police mistreatment of villagers during drug raids had not painted a good reputation of the Fiji Police Force in village boundaries.

Therefore, most submissions on this issue proposed that police also seek the approval of the village headman before entering any village.

The proposed bylaw in Part XX — Compliance to the Bylaws in Clause 85 states that police shall be given access to conduct its investigation within the village boundary.

At the Macuata consultation, Sasa villager and traditional leader Samuela Tuidravu said all village headmen should be informed of police access to villages.

In Nabouwalu, where the Bua consultation took place, Wainunu district rep Jale Sigarara supported the motion that village headmen should also be informed if police were to visit villages.

Wainunu villager, Epeli Matawalu, also asked the village bylaw committee to ensure that police get permission before entering villages.

Similar concerns were raised by traditional leaders.

But committee member Aminiasi Katonivualiku told the forum that by law, police had the right to enter villages for investigation purposes.

Mr Katonivualiku agreed that past cases of police mistreatment published in the media had stirred concerns in villages.

However, he stressed to traditional leaders to inform their villagers that under the Constitution, they could question police on the reasons of arrest and demand a warrant.

Fiji Times Online.
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