NEWS

Police Speak Out On The 16-year-old’s RFMF Citizen Arrest Claim

Commissioner of Police Brigadier- General Sitiveni Qiliho speaks out on the media reports regarding the arrest and questioning of the 16-year-old suspect for allegedly writing vulgar language aimed at the Honourable Prime Minister is void of a number of important legal facts about the role of the Republic of Fiji Military Forces.
08 Oct 2019 11:00
Police Speak Out On The 16-year-old’s RFMF Citizen Arrest Claim
Brigadier-General Sitiveni Qiliho.

Commissioner of Police Brigadier- General Sitiveni Qiliho has spoken out about the questioning of a 16-year-old boy who was taken in through a citizen’s arrest.

Mr Qiliho said: “The media reports regarding the arrest and questioning of the 16-year-old suspect for allegedly writing vulgar language aimed at the Honourable Prime Minister is void of a number of important legal facts about the role of the Republic of Fiji Military Forces.

“The actions taken by the officers from the Republic of Fiji Military Forces are well within the ambits of the law and is clearly stipulated in Section 131 (2) the 2013 Fijian Constitution in that it shall be the overall responsibility of the Republic of Fiji Military Forces to ensure at all times the security, defence and well-being of Fiji and all Fijians.

“Secondly, this is not the first time that members of the RFMF have assisted Police in the arrests of persons of interest in relation to criminal offences such as drug related offences and have been deployed with our officers at various drug raids.

“This is also clearly stipulated in the Criminal Procedure Act Section 22 (1) which gives powers to any person including Military officers to arrest any person who has or suspected to have committed an indictable offence which is often termed as a citizen’s arrest.

“Thirdly, Section 17C of the Public Order Act outlines the powers of Military Officers in that subsection (1) states; it shall be lawful for any member of the Republic of Fiji Military Forces when so directed by his or her commanding officer at the request of or with the concurrence of the Commissioner of Fiji Corrections Service or the Commissioner of Police as the case may be to perform all or any of the duties and functions of a prisons officer or police officer.”

Subsection (3) further states that; in and to the extent necessary for the performance by him or her of any of the duties or functions of a police officer under the provisions of this section, any member of the Republic of Fiji Military Forces shall have all the powers, protections and privileges of a police officer.

“I commend the professionalism of the two military officers who acted out of their concerns of the credible information received and were in fact off duty when they made the citizen’s arrest.

“The 16-year-old suspect was escorted to their superior, who directed that he be handed over to Police in order for us to conduct an investigation.

“At no point in time was he detained and interrogated by the Military as he was immediately escorted to the Criminal Investigations Office and handed over to the Director CID, who initiated the investigation which is ongoing.

“The 16-year-old remains a suspect as investigators look into verifying information received of his involvement, which he had initially confessed to during the first day of questioning – but however retracted his statement on the second day, and levelled fresh allegations of assault against the military officers.

“A thorough medical check was conducted, results of which showed the suspect was in no way harmed or had sustained injuries.

“None of the actions taken by either the military officers or our investigators have been illegal or an abuse of authority as the suspect who is a juvenile has been accorded all the rights he is entitled to.

“This is not the first situation where members of the RFMF have stepped in to assist the Fiji Police Force – and there are many untold stories of citizen’s arrests made by military officers who have assisted our efforts in maintaining the safety and wellbeing of all Fijians.”

Police and RFMF:

The Police and the RFMF have been working together since the 2013 Constitution was enacted.

In Sitiveni Rabuka’s 1987 military coups, the relationship between the two security forces was soured when the first local Police Commissioner P.U. Raman was locked up wearing only his underwear.

The animosity between the two security forces while cordial on the outside, was never the same after the humiliating treatment of Mr Raman.

But they have put aside the differences which stemmed from Mr Raman’s treatment. Now they are working together, sharing intelligence and forging stronger bonds.

Feedback: nemani.delaibatiki@fijisun.com.fj

 

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