WHAT IS HAPPENING TO THE RULE OF LAW AS WE KNEW IT ? Something appears to have gone terribly wrong when individuals subject to prosecution are allowed to conduct investigations .
19th January, 2016
The Acting Commissioner Of Police
Fiji Police Headquarters
Vinod Patel Complex
Laucala Beach Estate
I submit herewith my resignation from the Fiji Police after thirty (30) years of lustrous career, serving in almost all aspects of policing with effect from 20th January 2016.
I am submitting my resignation under duress, as the internal inquiry against me is contrary to good governance and best practices of our organisation. The inquiry also lacks the transparency and accountability, the two attributes that clearly forms the principles of the 2013 constitution of Fiji.
I have noted a number of flaws in the process and wish to highlight a few that I strongly feel will deny me natural justice. This whole process also contradicts a number of internal policies, not to mention our 2013 constitution particularly section 16 (Executive and administrative justice) which articulates “every person has the right to executive or administrative action that is lawful, rational, proportionate, procedurally fair and reasonable prompt.
- The fact that I was sent on leave straight after resuming (days) from leave is unconstitutional. A leave is an entitlement, which is earned and taken on leisure and /or not taken, compensated by the organisation. A leave cannot be forced (as in this case) to clear up some ‘ghost allegation’. The Commissioners powers under section 129 of the Constitution still has the oversight of the values and principles enshrined in the constitution particularly professional ethics and integrity.
- I am still not aware as to who is making the allegation, and on what capacity. My last conversation with your goodself before ‘sent’ on leave was querying details of the allegation to which you told me that you do not have anything and it is with the minister. I requested for a copy of any documents available and you had assured me that you have not read anything and provide me a copy as soon as you get something. (But still thought fit/adequate to send me on leave) (It is exactly one month now).
- The composition of the Commissioners Task Force team led by Superintendent Manasa Talala who together with another member Corporal Viliame Vereivalu are currently facing criminal charges in relation to Vilikesa Soko’s death in custody in Nadi. These charges were laid with other Police Officers by an Internal Affairs investigation when Internal Affairs Department was under my portfolio. How can a police officer investigate a senior officer when he is facing criminal charges in open court under my direction through Director Internal Affairs?
- The other members of the Commissioners Task Force are former members of the ‘Strike Back Unit’ which I had demobilised and transferred officers out due the increasing number of complaints (of assaults/brutality or of missing exhibits).
- I am also made aware that the team consists of an officer who, I had transferred out from the Drugs Unit due to his unscrupulous behaviour dealing with informers (this can be verified by officers at CID/HQ) .
- I am also concerned that what started as an internal inquiry, become what appears to be a criminal investigations as a premature report of Abuse of Office (of a case which is pending appeal in the High Courts) has been lodged at Totogo Police Station.
- The allegation is so baseless (flawed information) that the drugs seized and kept through a chain of evidence handlers (and order of high court) had to be re-opened and tested although the seal is intact and recognised by the analyst. The re-testing (still not sure under whose authority but it is now a contempt of court issue) has proven that it was NEVER tampered with. (Sadly I put this down to lack of knowledge and experience).
- The integrity of this investigations could not have been so alarming if another Chief Officer appropriately Force Inspector General or Deputy Commissioner of Police would have overseen it, but for SSP Luke Navela to act in my position in my absence and at the same time oversee investigations against me, does not come close to fair and unbiased. The silence in this issue by Chief Officers also indicates that this was not a consultative decision.
- The Task Force has reliably informed me that there are two (2) other allegations i.e. one in Valelevu and one in Nausori that the team is looking into however both appears to have been adequately explained by the Divisional Crime Officers. Instead of wasting a lot of resources in the witch-hunt, I would strongly advise to make available to the Task Force a document from Police Headquarters outlining the delegation of powers. Releasing a suspect for more evidence is NOT closing the file.
- My other two concerns are that of witnesses being intimidated after being called several times to the Task Force Office to go through their statements (suggesting changes). Again a member of the Task Force and the witness who will not speak out for obvious reasons reliably informed me. The presence of Military Intelligence officers daily in the Task Force office also does not augur well for me, as these are the military officers I had ordered investigated in the ‘you tube’ beating.
With thirty (30) years of experience, appropriate qualifications and as the head of the specialised Directorates like the Intelligence Bureau and the Criminal Investigations Department, I have the expertise to recognise a procedurally (un) fair investigations and a “ghost allegations” which is fast becoming a witch-hunt.
You have advised me that some officers are talking (about the allegation) to the Minister (I still have no idea as to which Minister), however this sets a bad precedent when Ministers (politicians) listens to junior officers and sends senior officers on leave without a proper initial inquiry. The basic rule of investigations (if you have not been advised yet) is that the person (or the state) making the allegation has to prove the allegation not vice versa where the person accused has to disapprove the allegation or prove his innocence.
The way I have been briefed from inside the Task Force is that the team has no reasonable grounds at all to even interview me under caution as it totally lacks substance. Nevertheless, I have consulted my legal counsel Mr Devanesh Sharma of R. Patel Lawyers for representations and if a statement is required than the team can correspond through my counsel.
The Fiji Police Force runs deep in my blood as I have built my life around me and the blue blood cannot be replaced. I will never change anything, as I will always stick to the oath I took of carrying out my duties without fear or favour.
As such I kindly request if this resignation be accepted amicably because I will not be making any press statement unless any negative press release is made from the organisation.
By copy of this Mr Devanesh Sharma is advised to prepare any queries that you may have.
I will make arrangements for my uniform and other accessories be returned appropriately.
Thank you and wish the Fiji Police Force all the best. May the spirits of “Salus Populi”continue to be the strength.
Assistant Commissioner of Police
Chief Intelligence and Investigations Officer.