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Escaped Prisoner Tevita Allegedly Tortured and ‘Treated Like Animals’ in the Prison says Sister

Tevita Qaqanivalu who escaped from Naboro Minimum Prison Complex at 3am yesterday morning was allegedly been tortured at the Naboro Correction facility.

Qaqanivalu who was serving time for a series of burglaries and theft cases had “swollen legs, roped marked on neck and beat marks on the back,” says his sister after her mother paid a visit to her son Tevita in the prison on 9th of February, 2019.

Seeing you yesterday in after 4 y(ea)rs was so heartbreaking……What mothers pays her son a visit and wants to see swollen legs, roped marked on neck and beat marks on the back of her son? My mom did! And it hurts.

Melissa Ofakitonga wrote on Facebook on 10th of February 2019

It is believed that a warden who showed pity and remorse for Tevita tipped off the parents to pay a visit to their beloved son and see the length of torture their child had to go through while in prison.

If it wasn’t for that good hearted warden who tipped off the beating of my brother,we wouldn’t have known about it.

Melissa Ofakitonga wrote on Facebook on 10th of February 2019
Escapee Tevita Qaqanivalu PC: Fcaebook

Tevita’s sister claims that her brother was allegedly assaulted by prison warden on Sunday 3rd February 2019 and was also denied medical attention.

He got beaten on Sunday last week (week before her mother’s visit) and today will makes it a week, but guess what(?) They didn’t took him to the hospital all they do is locked him up as if he doesn’t matter!!!!

Melissa Ofakitonga wrote on Facebook on 10th of February 2019

Meanwhile, checkpoints have been erected and will be manned throughout as the search operations for the escapee continues.

Police are urging anyone with information to contact Crime Stoppers on 919.

Police have also sent out a stern warning to members of the public that harboring prisoners is an offence and that people should report to police if they are aware of Qaqanivalu’s whereabouts.

In light to police brutality and torture of prisoners, Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama while speaking in a High Level Seminar on United Nations Convention against Torture in the Pacific at the Intercontinental Hotel has said that the culture of torture and violence has a powerful hold on the mentality of our people, and work needs to continue in Fiji and the whole of the Pacific to get rid of this culture.

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama speaking in a High Level Seminar on United Nations Convention against Torture in the Pacific at the Intercontinental Hotel [Photo: Fijian Government/Facebook]

Bainimarama says we think to ourselves that I was hit in school and it formed me to who I’m today or my parents beat me and it toughened me up. He added that mindset creates a tolerance for violence and it allows it to settle in to all parts of our day to day lives.

In the past year alone, Fiji police and military have been accused in several cases of torture and harassment.

Victims and organisations like Amnesty International say investigations into such cases are often swept under the carpet.

What does Amnesty International say?

In a March 21st statement, Amnesty Internationl says Fiji’s leaders are still doing too little to tackle the country’s severe human rights failings, Amnesty International said today, as the country’s civil society groups finalise their human rights ‘scorecards’ to submit to the UN.

Fiji are vice-presidents of the world’s top human rights body, and that leadership starts with their actions at home.

Roshika Deo. Amnesty International’s Pacific Researcher
Roshika Deo. Amnesty International’s Pacific Researcher

The country recently acceded to the vice-presidency of the UN Human Rights Council, a step that underscores the need for human rights progress.

“Fiji is talking the talk on the world stage,” said Roshika Deo, Amnesty International’s Pacific Researcher. “But the spotlight on Fiji’s new UN role must be a chance for Fiji to increase its credibility on human rights, and redress a range of critical failings.”

“Months since its re-election and despite its human rights rhetoric, the Fijian government has done nothing substantive to address the well-documented problem of torture by the security forces,” said Roshika Deo.

“Despite saying it would take action, it has also failed to take urgent steps to prevent women and girls from suffering widespread harassment, violence and discrimination. And they have done nothing to protect the country’s media and civic space.”

Ahead of the elections, in November 2018, Amnesty put forward a six-point human rights agenda that highlighted priority areas for government action.

This agenda includes the protection of the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, preventing torture and other ill treatment, ending violence against women and girls, protecting human rights defenders, ensuring equality for LGBTI people, and guaranteeing meaningful inclusion of Indigenous peoples in community decisions.

Fiji’s human rights record will come under scrutiny at the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of the United Nation’s Human Rights Council in October-November 2019.

Ahead of the Human Rights Council’s assessment, civil society groups have until 28 March to submit their contributions to the UPR process, and the State has until July to submit its report.”

“The UPR is an important process for human rights groups in Fiji – on this evidence, it should act as a major wake-up call to the government. They are now the vice-presidents of the world’s top human rights body, and that leadership starts with their actions at home,” said Roshika Deo.

“Only this week, the permit to stage a protest that was denied to the Fiji Trade Unions Congress shows Fijians’ rights to express themselves and to gather peacefully are still restricted,” said Roshika Deo. “As a first step the government should immediately act on the recommendations outlined in our Human Rights Agenda, including repealing repressive laws. They must also establish an independent and effective mechanism to investigate and address 

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