Australian High Commissioner Susan Boyd says crime in Fiji has deteriorated so much that it is the major topic of conversation around Fiji and dominates content of daily newspapers.
Australia has agreed to a five-year programme to revamp Fiji’s law enforcement agencies: Police, prisons, the prosecution office and legal aid systems in a move to help fight the exploding rate of crime, she told a Fiji Employers Federation meeting.
“The topic of conversation throughout Fiji and the major content of our daily newspapers, is the deteriorating law and order situation and the growth of crimes against people and property,” Boyd said.
“From your perspective none of this is good for business.
“Cases of armed robbery of business premises and from the homes of wealthier citizens, the creation of a climate of insecurity and fear not only affects community confidence but is also a major contributing factor to decisions by skilled professional, managers and workers to leave Fiji and find a more secure environment in which to live and bring up their families,” she said.
“This depletes the pool of competent people on which the State including the business sector depends.”
The first priority of any government must be security. “Government must keep its citizenry safe. Only in a safe and secure environment can society develop and prosper,” Boyd said.
By helping Fiji improve its security climate, Australia was ensuring safety for its own citizens from modern security threats such as drugs, money laundering, arms smuggling and terrorism, she said.
The Fiji Labour Party has time and again expressed concern about the alarming increase in crime and violent robberies and welcomes any move to upgrade and strengthen the system.
The Party is very critical of the injury done to the Police system in Fiji by former Commissioner of Police Isikia Savua who was not a career policeman but a soldier. His appointment by Sitiveni Rabuka was clearly political.
During Savua’s tenure the police force lost its professionalism and competency, became riddled with nepotism and provincialism, and infiltrated by recruits from the army. Savua was evidently building his own power base by surrounding himself with people he could trust.