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Don’t Forget Rights Of Victims, Says CJ

There will be arguments over the extent of the problem, but it is sufficient to acknowledge that there is a problem, says Chief Justice Anthony Gates. Chief Justice Gates was
11 Dec 2016 11:00
Don’t Forget Rights Of Victims, Says CJ
Chief Justice Anthony Gates.

There will be arguments over the extent of the problem, but it is sufficient to acknowledge that there is a problem, says Chief Justice Anthony Gates.

Chief Justice Gates was referring to instances of brutality inflicted by law enforcement individuals in Fiji on crime suspects or on prison escapees.

“It would be naïve and simplistic to think, as some have suggested, that this has only occurred because of military coups. Those commentators have not been around long enough to know what had been happening in Fiji prior to 1987,” Chief Justice Gates said.

He was on a panel on ‘Confessions of an Accused’ on day two of the Attorney-General’s Conference, which ended yesterday at the Fiji Golf Resort and Spa.

“The public in many parts of the world are distressed and angry at serious crimes that interfere with the peace and calm of their lives, which they feel they are entitled to, and which they expect Government to deliver,” he said.

“Home invasions at night committed by gangs, armed with pinch bars or sticks, smashing windows and terrifying the occupants who may include the elderly, young children or other vulnerable persons, constitute a serious public nuisance.

“Property is taken, items of irreplaceable sentimental value and some of the occupants are injured. And, then there are far too many rape cases also coming to the courts.

“This gives rise to great public disquiet. ‘Fight back’ teams lack the subtlety to deal with this crime, or to divert perpetrators into more worthwhile activities.”

Chief Justice Gates also addressed the recent Amnesty International report on Fiji and agreed that the courts were presented with a far from ideal situation when considering the admissibility of confessions.

He also pointed out the Amnesty International report’s inability to offer solutions.

“It’s a pity the Amnesty report lacked depth and gravitas. It failed to examine what was being done to rectify a situation they sought properly to highlight. Wrongs are everywhere. What we always want to know is what is being done about them? Is any work being done to remedy the situation and to eliminate bad practice? Where is all of this in the Amnesty Report? A representative for Amnesty turned up at the Geneva Side Event and therefore knew of these concerted efforts. No further details were requested by Amnesty. So Amnesty was not involved in providing a solution to Fiji or in helping to achieve it.”

Chief Justice Gates made special mention of the European Union, the UNDP, the Association for the Prevention of Torture, the British High Commission and the Swiss Government to make positive strides in these areas.

“For this problem must be overcome, and I believe it will be.”

 

Edited by Rusiate Mataika

Feedback: jyotip@fijisun.com.fj


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