NATION

Qiliho: Full Video Inquiry, Abuse Not Tolerated

nThe following is Commissioner of Police Brigadier General Sitiveni Qiliho’s speech at the ‘Pilot’ to Introduce 1st Hour Procedure and Video Recorded Interviews on Wednesday   The honourable Chief Justice,
21 Oct 2016 11:00
Qiliho: Full Video Inquiry, Abuse Not Tolerated
Police Comissioner, Brigadier General Sitiveni Qiliho.

nThe following is Commissioner of Police Brigadier General Sitiveni Qiliho’s speech at the ‘Pilot’ to Introduce 1st Hour Procedure and Video Recorded Interviews on Wednesday

 

The honourable Chief Justice, director Public Prosecutions Christopher Pryde, director Legal Aid Shahin Ali, director Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission Ashwin Raj, Human Rights co-ordinator, United Nations Development Programme – Christine Fowler, Australian Federal Police liaison officer to Fiji Rick Briggs, vice president of the Association on the Prevention of Torture Mike Kellett, business manager of TPR Systems Dave McWhirter, members of the Fijian Legal Fraternity, members of the Fiji Police Force, members of the media, ladies and gentlemen

 

At the outset I would like to extend my appreciation to the honourable Chief Justice for sharing his wisdom and guidance with us which is indeed extremely valuable for the participants over the next three days, but food for thought for all of us in our line of work as law enforcement officers.

The convening of this three day workshop is long overdue and since the launch of the initial video interview room back in 2013 also officiated by the Chief Justice under the leadership of my former predecessor Major-General Ioane Naivalura, it paved the way for us as an institution to be able to conduct our work in with the highest level of professionalism, integrity and honesty and I am happy that we are ensuring we continue to implement the initiative.

 

The 2013 Constitution

The 2013 Constitution Chapter 1 clearly stipulates that Fiji is founded on the values of, respect for human rights, freedom and the rule of law and an independent, impartial, competent and accessible system of justice.

Chapter 2 of the Bill of Rights also provides for the rights of the arrested, detained and accused persons and access to courts and tribunals. I’m sure that these fundamental rights are already entrenched in your mind every time you are conducting your work, however at times we are caught in situations where these fundamental rights are either deliberately overlooked or merely forgotten.

These are excuses however that we can never use in our line of work and neither will I entertain as your Commissioner.

Not only does it reflect poorly on the conduct of an officer but the overall image of the institution and let me tell you now that it is never easy to fix the damage done to our image once we are caught in such situations.

Further to what is stipulated in our Constitution, as a nation we ratified the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (UNCAT) in March this year.

Justice stakeholders in agreement noted the two areas of concern that needed to be urgently addressed to improve current practices to ensure stronger alignment with the obligations under UNCAT.

The two were related to the rights of when a person is first arrested and detained by the Police and thereafter the processes and rights during the interview by Police following cautioning.

This is why all of you are here today and some of your comrades will be joining the other sessions over the next two days because together we have made a commitment to not only align our work with the relevant legislations which is a give anyway, but because we are committed to enhancing our skills for the betterment of the service we are legally obligated to provide.

 

Developments of the workshop

I personally have been following the developments of this workshop because at the end of the day we are accountable for all our actions particularly ensuring that the processes for investigations are in compliance with section 13 of the 2013 Constitution relating to the rights of the arrested persons.

 

Abusing authority

Let me address the obvious “elephant in the room” with the recent video that surfaced on social media two days ago involving our officers. I have given my personal assurances and directed my inner core to open an investigation and get me answers as to what happened.

I would like to reiterate that I do not, now, and will never condone my officers abusing their authority.

I personally scrutinise such breaches when it is brought to my attention because we cannot be seen to be saying one thing and doing another.

I will admit that as an institution we have been on the receiving end of a lot of backlash with regards to the way we have conducted our work.

With the drafting and eventual implementation of the Standard Operating Procedures we are sure to reduce and hopefully eliminate the significant number of Police investigations in which suspects have accused Police of unethical or unprofessional behaviour.

I do welcome this initiative to strengthen our ability to protect the rights of suspects and I am also excited of the possible outcomes which will strengthen the overall integrity of the Fiji criminal justice system.

We will also ensure greater transparency in the arrest of suspects and their subsequent video interviewing and there will be fewer trials within trials.

While it will also reduce risks of complaints against Police I believe we would assist Government comply with domestic and international obligations.

Presently the video recording machines are being utilised at the CID HQ and was just recently introduced at the Totogo Police Station and with the gradual implementation in all police stations in the pipeline, I am excited about the direction the Fiji Police Force is heading.

 

Going back to basics

It is almost nearing a year when I exchanged the green for the blue uniform and it has been a learning experience considering the difference in the way the two disciplined forces operate on a daily basis.

While I continue to learn about the institution, there is one aspect of Policing which I believe can eliminate all these issues from becoming a thorn on our side.

We need to go back to basics. The introduction of the Video Recording may be new, but the systems and processes you learned which are aligned to the Police Act and relevant legislations are not new.

Majority of you are very experienced investigators and have years of knowledge and conducting an investigation has come with such ease taking into consideration the skills you have developed.

So there should not be any excuse to go beyond the perimeters of what you are legally bound to do.

 

The need to accept change

I also want to emphasise the need to accept change. Some of you many even say what we have been doing so far has worked, so why the change?

Change is good, and this change is not only relevant but will also encourage you as officers to strengthen your skills in investigations, arresting of suspects and the recording of video caution interviews.

Do not think of it as an obstacle to your work but rather an initiative to assist your work.

I know you are all eager to get the workshop underway so I won’t take up too much of your time and will ask you to keep in mind a quote by Pope Paul VI who said I quote, “If you want peace, work for justice”, end of quote.

The work for peace will begin shortly so use every opportunity to ask questions and give your input because you will be the end user of this S.O.P.

Once again my heartiest felicitations to the Chief Justice and all our stakeholders who have been instrumental in the convening of this three day workshop.

Thank you for your continuous support in assisting us uplift the Fiji Police Force’s level of service delivery for the sake of the people we serve and more importantly for the sake of our beloved nation.

I now have the pleasure of declaring the workshop open and I look forward to the outcomes.

Vinaka Vakalevu

Feedback:  jyotip@fijisun.com.fj



Five square Da Bang Sale


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