The Fiji Law Society has today written to Acting Commissioner of Police Rusiate Tudravu expressing its concern at a new case of Police brutality highlighted in the media.
This came at the same time as a media report that nearly 400 Police officers had faced prosecution over the last five years on a range of matters, including police brutality and sexual assault.
Society President, William Clarke says feedback from their members is that complaints against Police officers which are referred to the Force’s Internal Affairs Division “go nowhere”, unless they have serious consequences, such as the death of a suspect and become headline news.
Clarke says if the Police are not accountable for resolution of complaints which are seen as less serious, the result, in their view, is a culture of impunity – which leads to the serious problems of which the public are becoming increasingly aware, and which are damaging to the Force.
The Law Society President says an effective Police force is the bedrock on which peace, law and order are maintained.
Clarke says any public body concerned with rule of law, including the Fiji Law Society, must be concerned about the effect of these allegations on public confidence in the Police Force as an institution.
He says Police officers are entrusted by law with special powers, for the purpose of protecting the community and enforcing our laws.
Clarke says these broad powers must be exercised with strict discipline to ensure that citizens’ legal rights are respected.
The Law Society President says most importantly, if people lose confidence in the Police, or begin to fear the Police Force, the Force is deprived of its most important resource, the confidence and support of the people.
The Society has also expressed to Acting Commissioner Tudravu an interest in helping to resolve the problem and is hoping to meet him soon to discuss what it may be able to do to help.
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