The Fiji Labour Party is disturbed by reports on TV last night of statements made by the Police Commissioner to certain senior Indian officers in the Police Force who, he alleged, might not support his religious crusade.
While the intentions behind the spiritual crusade may be well meaning, it should not be allowed to encroach on individual constitutional rights or create an unsatisfactory work environment.
FLP has also received reports that police officers in certain divisional offices are required to attend daily prayer sessions lasting up to two hours. They have complained that this was seriously affecting the productivity of the Force.
“Aggrieved police officers should take up the matter officially with the Commissioner so that it can be resolved internally,” Labour Leader Mahendra Chaudhry said.
“This is a sensitive issue which raises questions of religious freedom and the separation of religion and the State. These matters are dealt with in Sections 5 and 35 of the Constitution, and the freedoms enshrined therein must be respected,” said Mr Chaudhry.
“Government must ensure that all police officers are guaranteed their constitutional rights.
Spirituality must be an individual issue. Dangers arise if it is imposed as a part of work activity, more particularly, in a multicultural and sensitive society such as ours.