The Association for the Prevention of Torture , facilitated a three-day training to members of the Fiji Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission and the Fiji Corrections Service on the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners and on the purpose and procedure of inspections of places of detention.
Over the course of the three-day training, held from 23-25 October, 17 participants engaged in practical exercises to consider best international practices for the treatment of prisoners together with the conduct of and principles that apply to inspections of prisons and places of detention.
Deputy Commissioner for Corrections, Apimeleki Taukei said, “The Fiji Corrections Service is grateful for this tripartite partnership between UNDP, FHRADC and Fiji Corrections Service in delivering further training on the minimum standards under the Mandela Rules to our personnel.”
He added, “We trust that this partnership will develop into more fruitful future arrangements.”
The collaborative approach between the Corrections Service and the FHRADC in undertaking the training led to a dynamic workshop delivered by Vice President of APT, Michael Kellett, wherein the participating organizations considered the content of potential protocols to facilitate the undertaking of inspections at places of detention.
“We are very happy at APT to continue our long association with Fiji and to be able to help support the criminal justice agencies here in their programme of implementing international standards and developing their personnel. It’s encouraging that the participants at this week’s workshop have been enthusiastic and engaged. We are all looking forward to watching them put what they have learned into practice,” said Kellet.
The participants also considered the application of the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment in Fiji in the lead up to the Universal Periodic Review in Geneva next month. In this regard, the participants considered the specific needs of vulnerable persons deprived of their liberty to include persons with disabilities, members of the LGBTIQ community, children and the elderly.
FHRADC Director, Ashwin Raj said, “The Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission will continue to constructively engage with the Fiji Corrections Service in ensuring that places and conditions of detention including the procedures of inspection are consistent with human rights, human dignity and non-discrimination and is in consonance with international best practice such as the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (Mandela Rules).”
He added, “The training is part of our continuous efforts in ensuring that Fiji continues to meet its obligations under the UN Convention Against Torture.”
The training was supported under the Fiji Access to Justice Project, which is funded by the European Unionand implemented by the United Nations Development Programme. The project, implemented from 2016 to 2021, aims at improving the functioning of the justice system in Fiji and improving access to justice for the population, in particular for the less privileged and most vulnerable people.
The Ambassador and Head of the European Union Delegation for the Pacific, His Excellency Sujiro Seam said, “Globally, the fight against torture is one of the long-standing priorities for the EU; we actively work with the UN bodies and national partners to prevent and eradicate all forms of torture and ill-treatment worldwide. This is an excellent initiative of the Corrections Service and FHRADC, and we would encourage broadening this initiative in Fiji to ensure access to justice for all and achieve Sustainable Development Goal 16 Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions.”
“UNDP is happy to support the Fiji Corrections Service and the Fiji Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission in their collaboration on this important issue, and for enhancing dialogue and cooperation within the justice sector for the purpose of delivering access to justice for all Fijians.”
This initiative aims to support the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals with focus on Goal 16, which is commitment to promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build eﬀective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels. It also supports the Goal 5, which is commitment to achieve gender equality and empowerment of all women and girls.