Suva, Fiji - Ensuring early access to justice in Fiji, and enhancing the capacity of the Fiji Police Force to deliver such justice to all Fijians, are key objectives of the five-day training-of-trainers for the Fiji Police Force Officers which commenced yesterday. Twenty participants, seven of which are female, are attending this training to acquire knowledge and skills necessary to deliver investigative interview training to Police Officers across Fiji. The training is being jointly supported by the British High Commission in Suva and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Pacific Office in Fiji.
The training-of-trainers forms a part of an overall justice sector reform plan to strengthen the protection of rights of Fijians under the Constitution of the Republic of Fiji, to implement the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (UNCAT), and improve overall effectiveness of the justice sector in delivering access to justice. The pilot initiative of the ‘First Hour Procedure and Video Recorded Interviews’ commenced in November 2016, and seeks to ensure that Fijians have early access to justice by creating awareness of rights when arrested or detained, and implementing procedures which protect those rights during any subsequent interview processes.
Over the past twelve months, the Fiji Police Force has been undertaking a range of initiatives and skills enhancements to implement the UNCAT. These include acquiring knowledge and expertise from the United Kingdom (UK) Police Constabularies, including a knowledge exchange of Fiji Police Force Officers to the UK, and the provision of Senior Expert Trainers by the UK to come to Fiji to undertake capacity development.
The British High Commissioner to Fiji, Her Excellency Ms. Melanie Hopkins, opened the workshop and remarked, “Torture prevention forms an integral part of the UK’s rule of law programmes aimed at building security and stability overseas. Through these programmes we offer UK expertise in inspection and monitoring of detention facilities and in investigative interviewing techniques.”
In addressing the participants, Mr. Bakhodir Burkhanov, Country Director and Head of Regional Policy and Programmes for the UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji said, “The initiative to conduct this training on Investigative Interviewing attests to the high level of commitment by the Fiji Police Force to ensure early access to justice for all Fijians. It demonstrates Fiji’s determined approach for implementing the UNCAT.”
Mr. Burkhanov added, “A remarkable feature of the pilot activity has been the unity of purpose and commitment of the involved institutions; namely the Fiji Judiciary, the Fiji Police Force, the Office of Director of Public Prosecutions, the Legal Aid Commission, and the Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission [which] despite having distinct and independent roles, have a shared stake in delivering this initiative. Their actions so far have provided a powerful foundation for the success of this pilot.”
Deputy Commissioner of Police for Fiji, Mr. Isikeli Ligairi, encouraged participants to actively engage with the Senior Operational Trainer from the Norfolk Constabulary in the UK, Mr. Colin Bridge, and emphasized, “The key objective of this training is the production of quality trainers in investigative interviewing, conferred with the necessary skills and knowledge to train police officers all over Fiji.”
Mr. Ligairi further commented, “The momentum and support received for the pilot initiative covering the First Hour Procedure and Video Recorded Interviews continues to grow, as the Fiji Police Force vigorously pursues more transparent and accountable procedures for ensuring access to justice for all Fijians, the procurement of video recording equipment for indicatable offences, and the upskilling of police officers trained to deliver such access to justice procedures, which is a key priority for the Police Force in Fiji.”
The Fiji Government has endorsed the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which highlight the importance of access to justice as an enabler for development and an outcome of development in its own right. At Goal 16, there is commitment to promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build eﬀective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.
Ana Naisoro, Fiji Police Force Spokesperson, Tel: +679-3348107, Mob: +679-9905999, E-mail: email@example.com
Vineeta Nand, Head of Communication and Public Affairs, British High Commission, Suva, Tel: +679- 3229111, Mob: +679-9907698, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Ria Sen, Reporting and Communications Specialist, Access to Justice, Rule of Law and Human Rights Programme, Effective Governance Team, UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji, tel: +679-3227577, mob: +679-8301376, email: email@example.com