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Inquiry into Alleged State Brutality on Prison Escapees


Inquiry into Alleged State Brutality on Prison Escapees

The NGO Coalition on Human Rights expresses its grave concern over the leg amputation of prison escapee Epeli Qaraniqio as confirmed in media reports yesterday evening. Qaraniqio and other fellow inmates were allegedly subjected to violent attacks by members of the security forces during their apprehension over a month ago and since then family members have been denied the right to visit them in hospital.

“This is a total violation of human rights and an abuse of power by the disciplined forces and we call for the immediate investigation and accountability of those officers who are responsible for perpetrating such gross brutality on these prisoners”, said Shamima Ali, Chair of the NGO Coalition on Human Rights.

“We also demand a credible and transparent process with non-censored media reporting of the process.”

Ali also stated that “Under international customary law and in Fiji’s national legislation, section 38 of the Prisons and Corrections Act (2006) clearly states that No prisoner may be subjected, by way of punishment to corporal punishment in any form; the use of instruments of restraint; withdrawal of basic food rations or basic toiletry supplies; or a total denial of visitation rights or the right to communicate with friends, family, medical practitioner or the prisoners chaplain or religious representative, so the use of excessive force and refusal of visitation rights are a direct violation of the provisions in the legislation”.

“Section 31 of the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners adopted by the First United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders, also states that corporal punishment as well as inhuman or degrading punishments are completely prohibited as punishments for disciplinary offences. And that those applicable rights under the UDHR and the ICCPR also express the “right to freedom of torture, inhuman and degrading treatment” as a non-derogable right, which entails that there are no limitations to these rights and that they cannot be suspended even in a state of emergency.”

“It is important that the security forces adhere to these standards as their recent actions threaten to undo the public’s faith in those who are supposed to be upholding the law and that they themselves are not taking part in criminal behaviour”, says the Coalition Chair.

“It is essential that the Fijian Regime at this point in time of our political history illustrate some semblance of upholding the rule of law; protecting human rights; and give the democratization process it has embarked upon, credibility.”

ENDS

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