Suva, Fiji - Ensuring early access to justice in Fiji and building police capacity to deliver such justice are key objectives of a five-day regional training organised by the Fiji Police Force including members of the Fiji, Tonga, Samoa, Vanuatu and Nauru Police Forces.
Nineteen police officers (three women and 16 men) from the five Pacific Island countries are attending the regional training to develop the skills necessary to deliver video recorded interviews and investigative interviewing training to police officers across the region. The regional training is being delivered by Fiji Police Force trainers certified through a 2017 Training of Trainers supported by the British High Commission and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
Early access to justice forms the basis of the origins of the pilot project of the First Hour Procedure and Video Recorded Interviews. The pilot initiative has been embraced by the justice sector in Fiji, resulting in the adoption of the First Hour Procedure and Video Recorded Interviews, both of which ensure Fijians’ early access to justice by creating awareness of their rights upon detention and procedures which protect human rights.
The regional training and the pilot project are supported by the British High Commission and the Pacific Security Sector Governance (PSSG) project, funded by UNDP. The PSSG project seeks to assist the Fiji Police Force in ensuring that all Fijians have access to justice in criminal proceedings.
The opening of the regional training was combined with the launch of the Fiji Police Force posters and investigative interviewing knowledge tools. The posters will be displayed in police stations across Fiji – and were designed by the Fiji Police Force, translated into English, i-Taukei and Hindi. In addition, the Fiji Police Force collaborated with United Blind Persons of Fiji and the Fiji Association for the Deaf to print the posters in braille and sign language, broadening accessibility.
Melanie Hopkins, the British High Commissioner to Fiji opened the training and remarked, “The UK is pleased to continue its support in partnership with UNDP to the Fiji Police Force on this project, which has been running for two years, following Fiji’s ratification of the UN Convention Against Torture.”
“A fundamental part of the UK Government’s foreign policy is to support countries implement their human rights policies.”
“And as we mark the 70th anniversary this year of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, it is our collective opportunity to reaffirm the Declaration’s enduring relevance.”
The Acting Deputy Commissioner of Police Rusiate Tudravu reaffirmed the Fiji Police Force’s commitment in upholding the fundamental rights of detained persons describing the efforts made to date as a win-win situation.
“We have seen the benefits of this project as it has safeguarded the interests of our officers as well as detained persons and being the prime law enforcement agency, it is our fundamental duty to protect human rights and we will continue to support Government's efforts in upholding the provisions of the UN Convention Against Torture.”
“We are happy that the Commissioner’s invitation to our fellow Pacific law enforcement agencies at the 47th Pacific Islands Chiefs of Police (PICP) Conference in Nauru early this month was accepted, and we are proud that the Fiji Police Force is once again able to assist our neighbours with training opportunities.”
In addressing the participants and guests, Salma Elhagyousif, Officer-in-Charge, UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji stated, “I would like to congratulate the Fiji Police Force for undertaking this initiative following the commencement of pilot work on the ‘First Hour Procedure and Video Recorded Interviews’, and for their continuous efforts to implement the UN Convention against Torture. Progress of the pilot and implementation of the UN Convention against Torture is a result of collaboration of the justice sector stakeholders.
“I would also like to acknowledge the valuable technical expertise and knowledge exchanges made possible through the ongoing support of the British High Commission. All of these partnerships combined assist in serving the mandate of Sustainable Development Goals.”
The Fiji Government has endorsed the Sustainable Development Goals which highlights 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. At Goal 5, there is commitment to achieve gender equality and empowerment of all women and girls. The PSSG Project supports the achievement of these goals.
For more information or media inquiries please contact:
Grace Kiernan, Access to Justice Specialist, Access to Justice Project, UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji, tel: +679 331-2500; email: firstname.lastname@example.org