September 27, 2012

NGO questions why military was involved in recapture of escapees

Publish date/time: 27/09/2012 [17:17]

The government said NGO Coalition Chairperson, Shamima Ali is out of touch with the plight and welfare of women in the country.

The statement comes after Shamima Ali raised concern on why the military was involved in the operation to recapture the five prisoners as she said this is the role of the police in a democratic country and the military should not be part of it.

She said they are also concerned about the alleged brutality during the recapture of the prisoners.

However Permanent Secretary for Information, Sharon Smith-Johns said if Ali was in touch with the situation she would have been aware about the fear amongst the women after the prison breakout and the violent robberies and break-ins that occurred last week.

She said everyone including the girls and women of the country were very concerned about their safety last week as these prisoners are hardened criminals and were carrying out daylight raids.

The government said the military's involvement was necessary to ensure that everyone is protected. 

Smith-Johns said the soldiers were told to ensure that the women in the country also feel safe to move around.

She said Ali would not be speaking like this if she was one of the female bank tellers who was traumatized by the armed robbery last week. 

Smith-Johns also said the break-ins and robberies were pre-planned in prison.

She stressed that the military's involvement was to provide security and to protect the people of the nation. 

Smith-Johns said all the women in Fiji, especially in Suva appreciated the assistance provided by the police except Ali and her politics. 

She said if Shamima Ali was concerned about women's safety and monitoring the news, she would have found out that these people were carrying cane knives, crowbars and bottles.

Smith-Johns said these things were also used on the officers when the prisoners were arrested off Uduya Point last Friday.

Meanwhile Shamima Ali said she stands by the NGO Coalition's statement as she said that the women in the country do not feel safe all the time.

Ali maintains that the military should not be involved in such operations.

When asked on the government's statement that Ali would not be speaking like this if she was one of the female bank tellers who was traumatized by the armed robbery, she said this is nothing new.

Story by: Vijay Narayan

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