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Human Rights Commission investigates assault claims by 16-year-old boy while NGO Coalition calls for urgent action

Human Rights Commission investigates assault claims by 16-year-old boy while NGO Coalition calls for urgent action

By Vijay Narayan
Saturday 02/11/2019

The Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission confirms that its investigation team travelled to an outer-island earlier this week and conducted preliminary interviews with the parent of a 16-year-old who was reportedly allegedly assaulted while being interrogated by people who the boy said were members of the RFMF.

This alleged interrogation and assault took place after a social media post. 

Commission Director Ashwin Raj says pursuant to section 32(2) of the Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission Act and considering that the complainant is a minor and therefore primary consideration must be given to the best interests of the child, the Commission will continue its investigations in private and will not be making any further media statements in relation to this case until such time that the Commission has concluded its investigations. 

Raj says this is imperative in ensuring that there is no trial by the media that can potentially subject the complainant to further reprisal and recrimination. 

Meanwhile, the NGO Coalition for Human Rights has said in a statement that it is extremely concerned with the recent report of the 16-year-old boy being taken in by the Fiji Military Forces, for questioning, over a Facebook post and the subsequent allegations of torture.

The coalition says the Facebook post depicted a vandalised bus with derogatory remarks against the Prime Minister.

NGO Coalition Chair Nalini Singh says they are deeply concerned with the alleged treatment of a child by the military particularly the allegation of torture.

Singh says they are also disappointed with the response from the Commissioner of Police that such arrests are lawful and they reiterate the call for the protection of human rights.

Singh says it is deeply troubling that the Fiji Police Force has justified these actions and the joint Police and Military operations continue even today. 

The NGO Coalition also says that they call for separation of the Police and Military with full and adequate resourcing of the Police to conduct investigations and arrests, and minimize arbitrary arrests by the Fiji Military Forces.

The Coalition also calls for independent investigations into these allegations of torture by the security forces. 

Army Commander Rear Admiral Viliame Naupoto had earlier said that he is unaware of any such incident and he also says that he will not make any further comments on this issue.

Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho has not made any comments however Police had earlier said that they were investigating the allegation made by the 16-year-old boy.

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