Concerned by the increase in gang violence and missing persons reported in recent months, Fiji’s NGO Coalition on Human Rights (NGOCHR) is calling on everyone including relevant authorities and communities alike to take a holistic, collaborative approach to plan and respond to both.
On the issue of gang violence, the CSO grouping also called on perpetrators to consider the lives and livelihood of others, urging them to access the formal justice system as a mechanism to resolve disputes whether in the home, village, community, or neighborhood.
“Resorting to violence will only beget violence,” the NGOCHR says reminding the Fiji Police Force of the same and the importance of maintaining professionalism when going about their work, appealing to them that “only reasonable force must be utilized to respond to the violence.”
“We reiterate Fiji’s commitments to eliminate torture and brutality for Fiji and to cultivate a culture of democracy that upholds citizens’ human rights for no one is above the law.”
In the same spirit, the NGOCHRT reminds the Fijian Government about its commitment to the Convention on the Rights of the Child in relation to the increasing rate of missing persons most of whom are alleged cases involving children and young women.
“We strongly urge all relevant authorities to work together to disseminate and investigate alleged cases of missing persons, especially when it involves children and young women who are vulnerable to sexual assault, sex trafficking, and sex work.
“Immediate response of relevant authorities to investigate reports of alleged missing children is paramount to ensuring their safety and well-being and underreaction can result in serious harm or death. All relevant authorities play a part in responding to reports of missing individuals by sharing accurate information that will aid in finding the individual. Early assessment of missing persons’ reports to determine the urgency of investigation and response is critical.”
The NGOCHR also called for an urgent review of existing laws and policies in place to protect and eliminate violence against children.