Qiliho Challenges West Officers on Violence Against Women

26 May, 2016

NADI (23 May 2016) – Police Commissioner Brigadier-General Sitiveni Qiliho has told his senior officers based at stations and units in the Western Division that he expects a change in their attitudes in handling cases of violence against women.

Brig-Gen Qiliho was speaking at the opening of a week-long workshop facilitated by the Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre (FWCC) in Nadi for 27 officers in charge, and leaders of units and formations across the entire division.

“I want change. I expect change in how gender-based violence cases are dealt with,” Brig-Gen Qiliho told his officers during the opening of the workshop at Hexagon Hotel in Nadi.

“We can’t be complacent while the head of government continues to advocate the need to better protect our women and girls.”

The workshop is aimed at helping senior officers increase their knowledge and improve their understanding of gender, violence against women and girls, impimprove their skills and sensitivity in responding appropriately to female victims reporting gender-based violence and inform policy.

Brig-Gen Qiliho urged his officers to learn about the dynamics of violence against women, so they could better mentor and instruct officers under their command to respond sensitively and effectively to reports of gender-based violence.

“While it is unfortunate that we may not be able to police the issue as it occurs in non-public places, it doesn’t mean our efforts stop there.

“The handling of victims and the investigation process is where we can give some form of solace to the victims. This will in turn give them the confidence to work with us, so that we are able to bring the perpetrators to justice.

“Victims of sexual offences and domestic violence require special care and consideration. This workshop is designed to help us understand the sensitive nature in responding appropriately to female victims reporting gender-based violence,” Brig-Gen Qiliho said.

The officers attending the workshop are from stations in Lautoka, Nadi, Namaka, Ba, Navosa, Sigatoka, Tavua, Vatukoula, Rakiraki and Nalawa in Ra.

Funded by the UNDP, the FWCC conducted the same sensitisation workshop for members of the Fiji Police Force command group at its headquarters in April, which Brig-Gen Qiliho himself attended.

“The workshop for us has been a real eye-opener as it has given us a broader insight about the issues surrounding violence against women and girls in Fiji,” Brig-Gen Qiliho said.

He reiterated that he wanted reports of gender-based violence to be prioritised and had previously released his official mobile number to the public so complaints can be made directly to him.

“I cannot hide the fact that improvements are needed within our organisation to better handle issues relating to gender-based violence. It irks me to get calls about the laxity of our officers attending to such reports.

“Since publicising my number, I constantly get complaints and I find myself having to issue orders and only then will something be done. Likewise, a report should not be attended to just because a complaint has reached the Prime Minister’s office.

“This boils down to the attitude of our officers and is a reflection of leadership. This is why you are here today as leaders of your respective stations, units and formation, so that we can avoid such situations.

“Violence against women and girls has become a national issue and I expect you to take your cue from there. While doing our work, let’s have a sense of empathy towards the victims and treat them more than just complainants.

“We need to instil confidence in all Fijians that they can lodge their reports and know it will be treated with a matter of urgency and sensitivity.”

This is the second in a series of workshops conducted by the FWCC with the Fiji Police Force to raise awareness of the dynamics of violence against women and better respond to the increasing reporting of such crimes.

UNDP peace and development adviser in Suva, Sonja Bachmann said they were happy to partner with the FWCC, “an organisation with decades-long experience in this field, on this important initiative.”
“UNDP would like to extend its appreciation to the Fiji Police Force under the leadership of Commissioner of Police, Brigadier-General Qiliho and the FWCC for their collaboration and the continuing momentum to eradicate violence against women and girls,” said Sonja Bachmann, the UN Peace and Development Advisor in Suva.

Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum is expected to close the workshop at 2pm on Friday, 27 May.

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