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Brutality against persons with psychosocial disability to be investigated

May 18, 2021 3:38 pm
Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission Director Ashwin Raj

Police brutality and other form of cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment against persons with psychosocial disabilities living on the streets must be investigated.

These were the comment made by Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission Director, Ashwin Raj following reports of such inhumane behavior meted out by law enforcement officers received by the Disability COVID-19 -Disaster Response Committee.

Disability COVID-19 -Disaster Response Committee Chair Mere Roden says they have received complaints from their representative who work with disabled persons in the streets that those with psychosocial disabilities have been treated cruelly and degradingly by some police officers during lock down and curfew hours.

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Roden says five people with psychological disabilities were made to jump over the seawall at the Bowling Club on the weekend of the 24th of April 2021 and one was forced to take off his pants as it was assumed that he was wearing correction service PT pants.

She adds another incident was recorded during the Suva lockdown weekend on the 30th of April to 3rd May where police continue to force these persons to remain in their location which prevented them from accessing bathing and drinking water and other public hygiene and sanitation facilities.

Roden says they have sent an email to the Acting Commissioner of Police requesting for a meeting.

FHRADC Director Ashwin Raj says they stand in solidarity with the Fiji Disabled Peoples Federation.

Raj adds law enforcement agencies need to show compassion and be sensitive to the specific vulnerabilities of persons with psychological disabilities.

He says the Commission during human rights training sessions with the Fiji Police Force has emphasized on the importance of dealing with vulnerable groups with sensitivity and empathy.

The Commission Director says they will conduct independent investigations into such matters.

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