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Commission Head Refutes Claims By Women’s Group

The director for Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission Ashwin Raj refutes insinuations made by Shamima Ali, co-ordinator of Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre that the Commission  is acquiescing to acts of
15 Jul 2016 10:46
Commission Head  Refutes Claims By  Women’s Group
NGO Coalition on Human Rights chairperson Shamima Ali.

The director for Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission Ashwin Raj refutes insinuations made by Shamima Ali, co-ordinator of Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre that the Commission  is acquiescing to acts of torture and brutality committed by disciplinary forces.

In response to Ali’s call that the Human Rights Commission must speak out on torture the Director said that the Commission has made several statements in the past in relation to acts of brutality and torture committed by Disciplinary Forces.

Most recently on Tuesday July 5, 2016 and Wednesday July 6, 2016 in The Fiji Times where the Commission made a very clear stand in that:

 

“…human rights and policing go hand in hand and no one is above the law-everyone is bound by human rights laws”

 

Furthermore the news report in The Fiji Times on 6th goes on to say:

 

“Mr Raj said he had conducted human rights training with law enforcers which was positive…the Commissioner of Police has been receptive to have a “human rights wall” in every police station so that when people are detained they know their rights and legal counsel and procedures…The wall will include a toll free number to contact the Commission for assistance because as an independent body we can investigate…As Director, I  would like to work with Police and the Corrections Department and one of the things we have done is undergone training on detention monitoring. The Commission hopes to develop a minimum standard for the officers to understand what international human rights minimum standards include. We need to make sure that minimum standards in prison centres or cells meet international standards”.

 

In a subsequent interview on 10 July in The Fiji Times, the Commissioner of Police talks about the collaborative efforts by the Fiji Police, the Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission, the DPP, Legal Aid and the Chief Justice on implementing the first hour procedure and video recording.

So quite contrary to what Ms Ali is intimating, there actually already is a history of constructive engagement between the Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission and the Police Force.

In relation to the most recent images of brutality circulating in the social media, the Commission made statements in the media which were published on Wednesday July 13 in The Fiji Times which stated the following:

 

“The Director  of the Fiji Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission, Ashwin Raj, welcomed the decision by the Commissioner of Police to order fresh investigations in relation to the allegations of police brutality in order to ascertain the veracity of the claims.

Mr. Raj said that human rights of all persons as outlined in the constitution must always be protected and preserved, including the rights of arrested and detained persons.”

 

The Commission stands by its comments. We recognise the right to freedom from cruel and degrading treatment, freedom from unreasonable search and seizure and the rights of arrested and detained persons and the rights of accused persons as provided for under the Fijian Constitution.

In relation to the arrests and seizures carried out in the Viti Levu highlands, the Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission affirms the constitutional right to freedom from compulsory or arbitrary acquisition of property, freedom from arbitrary evictions and the right to housing and the Commission has received confirmation from the Commissioner of Police that these houses will not be dismantled until such time that a clear a determination has been made by a court of law.

The Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission recognises that the Commissioner of Police has given an undertaking to launch investigations into these allegations of brutality and the Commission will closely monitor the outcomes of the investigations report.

The director is nonplussed that despite several personal conversations with Ms Ali on the matter as well as public statements, Ms Ali proceeded to issue such a statement giving everybody the impression that the Commission is quiet.

The Commission condemns all acts of violence, torture and brutality both in the realms of private and public and will investigate all allegations of human rights violations pursuant to the powers vested in the Commission under the Constitution and the HRC Decree 2009.

He hopes that these facts will set the record straight. Source: Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission

Feedback:  jyotip@fijisun.com.fj

 

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