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New Partnership For Fiji’s Security Sector Governance Launched

Signing of the police partnership agreement. Photo credit: New Zealand High Commission to Fiji

A new project was signed today between the Government of New Zealand, the Fiji Police Force and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

The Fiji Police Force Support Project is a four-year project of US$ 4.2 million (FJ$ 9.2 million), which aims to strengthen transparency, accountability and effectiveness of the Police, in collaboration with key justice stakeholders and civil society organizations.

With financial and technical support from New Zealand and UNDP, the Fiji Police Force aims to strengthen early access to justice in criminal proceedings and strengthen a victim-centered approach to investigations. This engagement will prioritise gender responsive and human rights-based approach to access to justice for vulnerable groups and child victims.

The programme also supports urgent initiatives required by the Fiji Police Force to implement the Government’s COVID-19 response plan in a professional manner and strengthen capacities for engagement and confidence among the public.

Commissioner of Police Brigadier General Sitiveni Qiliho said, “Fiji ratified the United Nations Convention against Torture (UNCAT) in March 2016. The First-Hour Procedure and Video-Recorded Interviews pilot was developed with leading justice actors to implement this convention with support from UNDP. The new partnership will enable us to further strengthen our commitment to combat torture amongst our ranks, and support our commitment to implement the UNCAT.”

The project has been guided by the strategic vision and mission of the Fiji Police Force and the Fiji Five-Year & Twenty-Year National Development Plan: Transforming Fiji, and supports the wider Police Strengthening Programme being undertaken by New Zealand to strengthen the performance of the Fiji Police Force.

New Zealand High Commissioner to Fiji Jonathan Curr said, “Through this programme the New Zealand and Fiji Police Forces, and UNDP, will work closely together on enhancing investigative skills, providing early access to justice and promoting gender equality. This is critical to supporting the work of other components of the criminal justice system, and it is an important plank in the efforts of New Zealand and Fiji to combat shared threats such as trans-national organised crime.

This initiative forms a part of the new Policing partnership programme announced by Prime Minister Ardern during her visit to Fiji in February this year, and which deepens the relationship between the New Zealand and Fiji Police Forces and other justice stakeholders. I particularly acknowledge the support of the Fiji Government, the Fiji Police Force under the leadership of Commissioner Qiliho, for their commitment to this new partnership.”

The cooperation with the Legal Aid Commission, which provides contact with lawyers in the first-hour, and coordination with the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution and the Courts, has been and will continue to be of crucial importance to the success of this initiative.

UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji Resident Representative Levan Bouadze said, “Strengthening the rule of law and promoting human rights are cornerstones of UNDP’s work to achieve sustainable human development and eradicate extreme poverty. An important component of this work is building capacity of police, strengthening accountable institutions, and advocating for human rights. I am delighted to be able to contribute to Fiji in this key area thanks to the generous support provided by New Zealand. I look forward to continuing the fruitful partnerships over the next four years.”

Both New Zealand and UNDP share a deep and long-standing security and justice partnership with Fiji. The partnership, through this initiative, aims to contribute to Fiji’s sustainable development with focus on Sustainable Development Goal 16 which promotes just, peaceful and inclusive societies and Goal 5 which is to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.

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