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Fiji and CTI host event at UNHRC

September 18, 2018 12:42 am

On the margins of the 39th session of the Human Rights Council, Fiji and Convention against Torture Initiative (CTI) hosted an event on Safeguards against torture – the implementation of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (UNCAT) in Fiji.

The event in Geneva, Switzerland last week took the form of a panel discussion followed by an interactive dialogue.

Having ratified UNCAT in 2016, it was an occasion to exchange Fiji’s experiences of implementing the Convention and to give examples of progress over the past two years.

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The focus was placed on the “First Hour Procedure” as well as the introduction of video recorded interviews.

International research has documented that individuals are at heightened risk of ill-treatment during the first hour after arrest, and so schemes that address this situation have an important impact on reducing the number of abuses, as well as the number of complaints against public authorities.

Chief Justice, Anthony Gates explained that since the use of video recording, the number of disputes regarding confessional material in court had significantly reduced court time.

The new procedures have not only reduced coercive forms of interrogation, they have also led to real efficiencies and attitudinal changes in police.

Since the start of the pilot, the Assistant Police Commissioner was able to show that video recording was now used in 57% of all interviews, compared with 8.13% previously.

While there remain a number of challenges to full implementation, these new measures have led to multiple benefits including importantly safeguarding the fundamental rights of arrested and detained persons, and reducing incidents of ill-treatment.

The panelists highlighted the importance of internal coordination between different sectors – police, judiciary, legal aid commission and the Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission, as well as international cooperation.

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