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Police speak out

March 06
14:27 2013

LEFT: Fiji Police Force spokesperson Inspector Atunaisa Sokomuri at the press conference in Suva yesterday. Photo: RAMA INSET: A video clip image of one of the two handcuffed men seen being beaten in the video posted on the Internet.

Promise of full
investigation
into incidents shown on video

By FONUA TALEI

Allegations the alleged assault of two men seen on a video recording posted on the internet involved escapees from Naboro prison in late 2012 are false, says the Fiji Police Force.
“We know that the victims in this video are not the prisoners who escaped from Naboro last year. We have already established this,” Police spokesperson Inspector Atunaisa Inspector Sokomuri told the news media at a press conference yesterday.
Inspector Sokomuri was responding to a video clip that went viral on the internet yesterday. It was then picked up and highlighted by some mainstream news media in Australia and New Zealand.
New Zealand journalist Michael Field – who has a record of anti-Fiji reporting – ran a lengthy report on a major New Zealand news website, Stuff.
He claimed the men seen being beaten were those who had escaped from the Naboro complex in late 2012.
However, Inspector Sokomuri said this report was wrong.
Inspector Sokomuri said that investigations concerning the alleged beating captured on the video clip had commenced.
“We want to stress from the outset that no-one should prejudice this investigation by speculating on what happened. We need to formally establish the precise facts and we are determined to do so,” Inspector Sokomuri said.
The procedure of investigation, he said, would be similar to those followed when complaints were lodged against Police officers in other jurisdictions like Australia, South Africa, the United States and New Zealand.
He said: “Therefore, we are not prepared to speculate on the identities of those involved, again so as not to prejudice the investigation. But we can assure you all that we are determined to resolve this issue …”
He defended the security forces saying they had stopped the regular violent crime, including home invasions and robberies, that had previously brought fear to many.
He said: “Fijian security agencies have worked tirelessly over the past few years to give protection and security to ordinary Fijians who suffered through constant home invasions, robberies and violent and wanton crimes.
“These crimes were perpetrated by a group of criminals with impunity and who had absolutely no regard for lives of ordinary Fijians, respect for basic human dignity and the law.”

The video clip
The video clip shows the alleged beating of two handcuffed men, one in the back of a vehicle and the other on an open field.
This video clip also shows what seemed like a trained dog dragging one of the man along the ground by his clothes.
The video recording appeared to be made by those carrying out the beating and this could be clearly seen in the video.
The men being beaten appeared to be recaptured prisoners but their identities could not be established.
Also in the recording one of the handcuffed men was repeatedly asked – “O na dro tale?’ (Are you going to escape again?). He was also stripped naked from the waist down.
All the men involved in the incident appeared to be dressed in civilian clothes.

Rights group response
In a press release issued yesterday the NGO Coalition on Human Rights condemned the incident as seen on video.
It called for a full investigation and a public inquiry into the issue.
The chair of the coalition Shamima Ali said: “This is totally unacceptable and those in positions of power owe the people of this country an explanation.”
Quoting Article 5 of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, Ms Ali said no one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading or punishment.
“So, any argument of resisting arrest does not hold water and cannot and should not be used or even accepted as a justification,” she said.

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