“If the Prime Minister ‘sticks by’ anyone named in the investigation, this amounts to undermining the rule of law”
This is the first time I’ve seen a video like this, but it’s not the first time it has happened. I think the government was caught in the act; this video was unexpected for them.The parents know that their son was a serial offender, he was in custody, and he escaped, and the police were looking for him. It’s public knowledge that the army regularly assists the police when they’re searching for escapees – it’s a militarised police. Since the 2006 coup, the professional police force has been superseded by military control. A brigadier is now in charge of the police. I’m almost sure the men carrying out the torture in the video were officers working for a militarised police service, I cannot say why these men were not in uniform - maybe they weren't working at the time.
The Prime Minister’s comment, "I’ll stick by my men", I think that’s a giveaway that the attackers must have been his military "men", because that’s real military talk, and he’s the head of the military. So it’s an appropriate conclusion to make that these men were working for what is now a militarised police service.But if the Prime Minister "sticks by" anyone named in the investigation, this amounts to undermining the rule of law and justice. But anyway I’ve been told it’s an internal investigation: it’s not independent or open so the results might not be worth much."An unelected Prime Minister is the head of the army – those roles don’t sit well together"They have some idea of what "human rights" means and they’re aware of the negative international attention the video has drawn. So they said they would investigate. The government had no choice but to react [Editor’s note: human rights organisations, notably Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, strongly condemned the video].Alifereti Nimacere, David Wise, Nimilote Verebasaga, Sakiusa Rabaka – all these people were killed by military officers. But after their deaths, military officers were punished. But this time, the Prime Minister is saying he’ll stick by his men. Why is he saying that? I think he might have said that because he may even have had a hand in making it happen. In order to save face, he needs to be consistent. He may even have sent those officers; after all he’s the head of the army. An unelected Prime Minister is the head of the army – those roles don’t sit well together. The government is full of military officers chosen by the Prime Minister.
I was surprised someone more senior didn’t announce there would be an investigation. It was a junior press officer who made the announcement. The Prime Minister didn’t utter a word until four days later, that’s when he said would "stick by" his men.These men may well have been serial criminals, people who will never be able to reform. There are three different views in the Fijian media: first, two wrongs don’t make a right; second, these criminals got what they deserved; third, these people were dangerous and they need to be controlled. I agree people who are dangerous need to be controlled, but in the right way: in a way that respects human rights.