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Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
The Constitution provides for freedom from torture and cruel, inhumane, degrading, or disproportionately severe treatment or punishment; however, there were some reports of abuses by police.
The Police Department's Internal Affairs Unit is required to investigate complaints of police brutality. The law permits corporal punishment as a penalty for criminal acts, but the courts seldom invoked this provision. In response to public concern regarding police brutality, the Human Rights Commission conducted training courses for police field investigators, sergeants, and prison officers during the year.
In 2002, the son of deposed Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry filed suit against the 2000 coup leaders and several government institutions, including the army, seeking damages for abuses allegedly suffered while he was held hostage during the May 2000 armed invasion of Parliament. He indicated that he had been assaulted on several occasions and subjected to severe physical and mental cruelty. This case was still pending at year's end.
Prison conditions did not meet international standards, and prison conditions, particularly at Suva and Naboro Prisons, remained poor. The prison system was seriously underfunded, with deteriorating infrastructure and poor delivery of essential services, including food and sanitation. There were 991 prisoners in 18 prisons countrywide; the combined capacity for all prisons was 987 persons. Men and women were held separately; juveniles were held separately from adults; and pretrial detainees were separated from convicted prisoners.
The Government maintained a separate detention center on Nukulau Island near Suva for May 2000 coup leader George Speight and two of his supporters who were also convicted of treason. Detainees were granted some freedom of movement, including recreation, but facility access remained tightly controlled. Family members and a few other visitors were permitted to visit; however, the International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC) was denied access. The police continued to investigate a number of Speight's supporters and those who financed the attempted takeover of Parliament in May 2000. At year's end, all of the others arrested in connection with the events of May 2000 had been convicted of lesser charges or released.
Aside from the special regime for prisoners on Nukulau Island, the Government permitted visits to prisons by church groups, family members, and the Fiji Red Cross.
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