Seruiratu claims this Govt removed Police officers with extensive experience and proven records

Seruiratu claims this Govt removed Police officers with extensive experience and proven records

By Vijay Narayan
Wednesday 21/02/2024
Leader of the Opposition, Inia Seruiratu

Leader of the Opposition, Inia Seruiratu claims as soon as this government came into being, they removed Police officers with extensive experience and proven records for no apparent reason however Minister for Home Affairs, Pio Tikoduadua says to his knowledge the only change that happened in the police force was the suspension of Commissioner Qiliho.

Seruiratu says there has been a call from the former Assistant Commissioner of Police, ACP Henry Brown that the current Acting Police Commissioner should be surrounded by experienced people, and he totally agrees with this statement.

The Opposition Leader says the government also replaced them with people who do not have the same level of experience or expertise, and they have basically shot themselves in the foot.

However Tikoduadua says most of the big removals of talented and experienced individuals in the Police Force happened under the previous government as noted by the interviews of former ACP Henry Brown.

Seruiratu says maintaining law and order and at the same time trying to fight crime and combat the smuggling of illicit drugs should be a joint effort.

He says recent statistics about crime and drugs in Fiji are shocking.

Seruiratu says the Acting Police Commissioner has informed the nation of the alarming increase in the overall crime rate by ten percent in the month of January alone, and he says what is even more alarming is the increase in the crime against women by 31 percent.

He says to top it all off we are now informed that drug cases rose by an astronomical 94% and this is a serious concern because majority of the cases are within our communities, in Fiji itself amongst the people we interact with every day.

Seruiratu says we must acknowledge the reality of our fight against drugs, as one of the developing countries and being the hub of the Pacific, we are vulnerable to these issues.

The Opposition Leader and former Minister for Defence says he will say this once again; drugs will continue to be a huge crisis and the war against it will not be easy.

He says we need to find avenues of how we can improve our capacity to fight drugs because we will continue to see an influx due to its lucrative price.

Seruiratu says as much as we want to work together; there is also a very critical need for our police officers to honour their role in upholding the law of this country and ensuring there is transparency and accountability within the force.

He says last month alone we have seen cases where drug evidence was allegedly tampered with in two Police Stations in the country and cases of alleged Police brutality.

Seruiratu says we need to remind our officers, that maintaining law and order and national discipline starts within the force itself in ensuring there is no corruption and at the same time safeguarding the integrity of the Fiji Police Force.

He says this is not an issue to be taken lightly and carrying out your duty as Police Officers always come under the critical observation of the people because of the role you play.

He says it is vital that we ensure the effective collaboration between various religious bodies, denominations, relevant stakeholders, communities, and the government of the day.

Seruiratu commends the work of the Fiji Police Force for what they are trying to do to fight drugs however he says we need to re-look at our social structure where we can instill discipline starting from our very own families and various communities.

He says this is not the time to play the blame game because the recent hike in drug busts and crime rate urgently needs our collective attention.


Drug networks previously operated often undetected - Tikoduadua

Big removals of officers in the Police Force happened under the previous Govt - Minister

By Vijay Narayan
Wednesday 21/02/2024
Minister for Home Affairs, Pio Tikoduadua

Minister for Home Affairs, Pio Tikoduadua stresses that the drug networks that are now being uncovered had previously operated with impunity, often undetected, due in part to a lack of rigorous enforcement and oversight by past administrations.

While responding to concerns raised by Leader of the Opposition, Inia Seruiratu, the Minister says the increase in detected cases is, therefore, not solely indicative of a rising drug problem, but rather evidence of our police force's success in bringing these clandestine operations into the light.

Tikoduadua says it is important to understand that the recent spike in drug-related cases, reported to have risen by an astonishing 94 percent, is a direct result of our law enforcement agencies' enhanced capabilities and renewed efforts to uncover and dismantle drug networks.

He adds that the significant increase in crime against women is deeply concerning and unacceptable.

The Home Affairs Minister says this is based on statistics that are being reported, which for so long has flown under the radar.

Tikoduadua says the ministry is committed to addressing this issue head-on, through both preventive measures and stringent law enforcement.

He says they are actively working to ensure that our police force is sensitive to the needs and rights of women and that they have the necessary training to handle such cases with the seriousness and urgency they deserve.

Tikoduadua says allegations of police misconduct, including tampering with drug evidence and instances of police brutality, are being taken very seriously.

He says they are instituting rigorous internal investigations and accountability measures to ensure that any officer found guilty of such misconduct is held accountable.

The Minister says integrity, professionalism, and respect for the rule of law are non-negotiable principles that every member of the Fiji Police Force must adhere to.

While reacting to Seruiratu’s claim that senior officers have been removed from the force, Tikoduadua says to his knowledge the only change that happened in the police force was the suspension of Commissioner Qiliho.

He says most of the big removals of talented and experienced individuals in the Police Force happened under the previous government as noted by the interviews of former ACP Henry Brown.

Tikoduadua says collaboration with religious bodies, community leaders, and other stakeholders is crucial in the fight against crime and drug trafficking. He says they are actively engaging with these groups to foster a collective approach to addressing these issues, emphasizing the role of social structures and community involvement in maintaining law and order.

He says while the statistics presented are indeed alarming, they reflect a period of transition and heightened enforcement activity by our police force.

Tikoduadua says they are making headway in our fight against crime and drugs, and he assures the public of their unwavering commitment to creating a safe and secure environment for all Fijians.


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