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EDITORIAL: All Officers Must Be Trained To Know There Is Zero Tolerance On Police Brutality

The latest case of alleged Police brutality highlights what appears to be a disturbing culture in the force. We thought we had seen the last of it when three policemen
25 Nov 2015 11:57
EDITORIAL: All Officers Must Be Trained To Know There Is Zero Tolerance On Police Brutality

The latest case of alleged Police brutality highlights what appears to be a disturbing culture in the force. We thought we had seen the last of it when three policemen and two military officers were charged recently.
At about the same time Police officers attended training on human rights. All the knowledge and skills learnt from that training went through the window when Rajneel Singh was allegedly assaulted.
Mr Singh, recovering at Lautoka Hospital, claimed he was “tortured” by Police officers using “hot rods” and dumped in a pine forest between Nadi and Sigatoka.
After Brigadier-General Sitiveni Qiliho was appointed acting Commissioner of Police, he vowed to crack down on Police brutality.
The case of Rajneel Singh has now become his first project and investigation by Internal Affairs from Suva is in full swing.
Brigadier-General Qiliho is focused on getting to the bottom of this case because for him moving forward he needs to restore public confidence.
That is why he has come into the Police Force at the right time to clean it up.
There is something bizarre about this case. Rajneel was picked up from the vicinity of the Ba Police Station, allegedly tortured and left at a pine forest between Nadi and Sigatoka.
Police officers are not above the law and they cannot abuse their position as enforcement officers to break the law.
People look to the Police officers as their protectors against criminal elements. They lose confidence in them when Police officers use excessive and unjustified force.
Police brutality has a pernicious impact on our society.
It creates a culture of fear and mistrust between people and Police. One of the most common justifications an officer will use is convincing themselves that the victim brought the punishment on themselves. Mr Singh claimed that Police officers wanted him to change his statement to say that he was carrying self-inflicting wounds.
When officers get to this point, it displays a dangerous mindset that lacks rationale thinking and focus on the role of the Police. They think the victim deserves the punishment.
They assume that when one commits a crime, they lose their rights. This is also very dangerous because not only does it allow the officers to justify their actions, it can also make them feel good about doing it in the first place.
A major contributing factor to a rise in Police brutality is the lack of accountability. Police officers who engage in misconduct are routinely given a pass and are not held accountable for their violent behavior.
No doubt Brigadier-General Qiliho will address this issue to ensure that the Police officers are responsible for their actions.
Victims of police brutality suffer physically and mentally. Police brutality can have fatal consequences as we have seen here in Fiji.
These victims also suffer from post traumatic stress disorder.
This can result in depression, substance abuse, panic attacks, and other psychological disorders. These symptoms can cause long-lasting damage to the victim.
All in all, police brutality is a serious problem. If this issue is not dealt with now, it will only grow worse.
Workshops should be held in all the divisions to train officers that there is zero tolerance on brutality.

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