Police Officers in Rotuma receive training to improve human rights standards

August 17, 2022
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Participants of the Human Rights Training in Itumuta Hall in Rotuma.

Photo: UNDP

Itumuta, Rotuma – All police officers of Rotuma Island including four women officers gathered at the Itumuta Community Hall to participate in a two-day interactive human rights training organized by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Pacific Office in Fiji in partnership with the UN Office of the High Commission on Human Rights (UN OHCHR) Pacific Regional Office, the Fiji Police Force, the Legal Aid Commission, Medical Services Pacific (MSP), Fiji Disabled People Federation and the Council of Rotuma. 

The human rights training is part of a wider initiative under the Fiji Police Force Support Project to deliver timely and relevant training to the furthest parts of Fiji to ensure that no one is left behind when it comes to justice and enhancing service delivery on all aspects connected to human rights. 

The training has been specifically designed to talk to the needs of various issues that are faced on the Island to ensure that police officers are better equipped and informed to safeguard the rights of community members. 
Director of Summary Prosecution, ASP Fisi Tausia Nasario thanked all stakeholders involved for bringing targeted human rights training to the furthers corners across Fiji. 

“I know that the beauty of this workshop is that the information shared in this community hall today will be talked about throughout the Island before the sun rises tomorrow. As a member of the FPF and a son of Rotuma, I’m glad to be opening this training that looks at modernizing policing techniques through a whole-of-community approach.”

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UN OHCHR Human Rights Advisor, Releshni Karan (left) speaking to participants.

Photo: UNDP

It was fortuitous to have representatives from the Government of Fiji spanning from a range of Ministries such as Health, Justice, Youth & Sports and Agriculture. Also in attendance were representatives from Bio-Security Fiji and the Fiji Competition & Consumer Commission. The diverse spread of representatives is a strong display of the need to strengthen partnership and collaboration when operating on a remote island. 

The first day of the interactive training concentrated on hot topics such as use of force, first hour procedure, video recorded interviews, rights of suspects in detention, policing with a human rights-based approach and better understanding the interactions of handling persons with disability in policing. 

Participants were engaged in various forms of role plays throughout the day as an effective avenue of communicating some of the most prevalent issues faced on the Island along with sustainable solutions that can be adopted in the future to strengthen trust amongst stakeholders and members of the community. 

The second day of the interactive training concentrated on strengthening knowledge towards how police communicate and handle all matters related to sexual and gender-based violence in Rotuma. It is part of greater initiative of ensuring that all officers follow the same processes and procedures to protect the rights of all survivors. 

New Zealand High Commission Second Secretary Political Ms. Courtney Rose explained why New Zealand is supporting this programme – “New Zealand is a long-standing partner of Fiji in the security and justice space. We are so pleased to be able to provide this support to remote communities.”

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Representatives from Fiji Disabled Peoples Federation at the training in Rotuma.

Photo: UNDP
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Deputy Director Organized Crime, SP Aiyaz Ali, and Fiji Police officers from Suva at the training in Rotuma.

Photo: UNDP

This project is part of a wider policing programme totaling NZ$11 million as announced by the Prime Minister in 2020. The UNDP project focuses on rights of arrested persons, first hour procedure, improving response to sexual and gender-based and domestic violence, and enhancing access to justice for vulnerable communities. Ms. Rose noted, “New Zealand was passionate about improving these human rights standards – not only here in Fiji but in New Zealand as well.”

Rustam Pulatov, Project Manager for the UNDP Fiji Police Force Support Project said, “In the UN, we ensure that no one is left behind, and it means that whatever your circumstances, whatever your location, whatever your situation, it should not be an excuse to leave you behind.” 

“Being in a remote island, is no excuse for anyone to forget the interest and needs and rights of people – in this case reaching out to such remote locations, making sure the police knows their duties and how to exercise them, and communities know their rights and know how to protect them are also in the focus of the project, and we need to make sure we spend our time to reach the most remote, sometimes most marginalized and vulnerable communities,” Mr. Pulatov stressed. 

The training took place on 15 - 16 August 2022.

For media queries, please contact: 

Emily Moli, Knowledge Communications Analyst, UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji, email: emily.moli@undp.org; mobile: 7225 301.

Setaita Tavanabola, Communications Associate, UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji, email: setaita.tavanabola@undp.org; phone: 3227 523