Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Fiji: Ending police independence

During the coup years, Fiji's military thugs committed several high-profile atrocities, beating, torturing, raping and on a few occasions murdering their victims. Fiji's post-coup police chief, Ben Groenewald, has been relentless in pursuing these thugs, and finally managed to get the most outrageous abusers charged. In retaliation, the Fijian government has forced him out:

Fiji's Police Commissioner Ben Groenewald has resigned and been replaced by Fiji's land force commander Colonel Sitiveni Qiliho as Acting Police Commissioner.

Mr Groenewald told the ABC he was not happy with the way the Fiji military was interfering with policing.

His departure was indirectly due to a standoff with the military over policing matters, he said.

Mr Groenewald, who described himself as a true-blooded policeman, said he was not satisfied with the way they interfered.

In a statement, the Fiji government said Mr Groenewald was leaving for personal and family reasons.

The Fijian military has actively shielded suspects from arrest and has now hired three former police officers accused of rape and torture. There's an attitude of impunity and, with a non-independent judiciary, a strong suspicion that the trials will be a farce with judges directed to acquit. And Groenewald's departure suggests that that is exactly what is going to happen.