Strengthening crisis response for the Fiji Police Force

August 3, 2022

Esteemed Deputy Commissioner of Police, Mr. Itendra Nair, New Zealand High Commissioner, H.E Charlotte Darlow, representatives from the Fiji Police Force and the media, distinguished guests, participants, colleagues, and friends - bula vinaka and a very good morning to you all.
I am delighted to be here with you all in person - and it’s great to see our prominent partners, senior decision makers and relevant authorities in the justice and security sector here this morning.

I am especially delighted to be visiting the Police Special Response Unit (PSRU) and find it refreshing to attend a gathering outside the usual locations in Suva. 

I would like to take the time to thank the Deputy Police Commissioner Mr. Itendra Nair for his continued leadership and partnership with UNDP under the Fiji Police Force Support Project. 

Sir, your continued vision under the project demonstrates the highest level of commitment to strengthening access to justice, the promotion of human rights and overall institutional strengthening. 

Fiji continues the brave fight in advocating against the impacts of climate change in the global and regional space. 

Over the past 10 years, Fiji has been battered with severe tropical cyclones. The research tells us that these weather patterns will only intensify in the future. 

UNDP continues to work hand in hand with Fiji at a global level to ensure big emitters reduce carbon emission. At a national level, we continue to work with all sectors, all Ministries and all justice stakeholders to ensure that key pillars such as the Fiji Police Force can continue operations in times when the country is faced with tropical cyclones, flooding and a pandemic. 

The Fiji Police Force is often at the heart and center of any disaster in Fiji. When the public is sheltering at home – it is the servicemen and women of the police force that are out there keeping the nation safe and ensuring safe facilitation of basic services. 

It brings much joy and a sense of peace to the public when they see Police Officers carrying women and children across flooded rivers and creeks after a cyclone. The same can be said when the public witnesses police officers helping the elderly and disabled in communities that were in lockdown during the pandemic. 

The handover of the generator today is not simply about supplying electricity during a power-cut. It’s about ensuring that the Fiji Police Force has the strengthened ability to react in a timely and efficient manner to protect families that need assistance in times of crisis. 

We have also used this auspicious occasion as the perfect opportunity to handover the transcribing equipment to the Fiji Police Force. UNDP through support of the Government of New Zealand have procured video recording interviewing equipment. 

The video recording interview equipment will go a long way in acting on the vision of justice stakeholders in Fiji such as the Fiji Judiciary, Legal Aid Commission, Office of the Director of Public Prosecution and the Police – to promote and strengthen: - 
—    rights of person during arrest and detention by the police (the First-Hour Procedure) 
—    rights of person during the interview by the police (Video-Recorded Interviews)

This work is deeply rooted in prevention of torture and is strongly linked to enhancing transparency for the Fiji Police Force. 

I am told that Officers that start using the video recorded interview equipment do not want to go back to the old method of writing down entire statements. What use to take an hour or more can simply be done in minutes with todays technology. 

The transcribing equipment will be used by the team of transcribers under the Fiji Police Force to demolish the backlog of cases that are pending trail. Justice delayed is justice denied. 

Let me say that all of the work that is being done under the project: from crisis response management, human rights-based training with the Fiji Police Force and procurement of equipment to improve service delivery would not be possible without the support of the Government of New Zealand and we are grateful for their tremendous support. We appreciate the long-standing partnership UNDP has with New Zealand in support of sustainable development in Fiji.

The handover of over $100k dollars of equipment to the Fiji Police Force is a significant milestone that showcases the momentum that is building towards strengthening the entire justice sector for the benefit of all Fijians. 

With these few words, I thank you all for your support and for being here with us today. I look forward to sharing with you more milestones to be made through the project.

Vinaka vakalevu.