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The Commissioner of Police,
Senior Police Officers;
Ladies and Gentlemen.

Bula vinaka and a very good afternoon to you all.

I’m very glad to be here as we acknowledge the hard work and achievement of our new policemen and policewomen – all of whom have taken up the sacred oath to serve this nation and the Fijian people.
Let me begin by saying congratulations to all of our new members of the Fiji Police Force for successfully completing your training and for committing yourselves to such an important institution. I know this is the end of a long journey – a journey of great dedication and sacrifice that has led all of you to this Passing-Out Parade ceremony; here among so many of your friends and family celebrating your successes.

You are now taking up a calling that few have the honour to answer. You are giving yourselves, your time and your energy to the service of the men, women and children who call Fiji home. They will look to you in their hours of need, they will look to you to keep them safe, and they will look to you as role models and standard bearers for respect and adherence to the rule of law.

As members of the Fiji Police Force, your jobs will not be easy. As any veteran of this Force can tell you, you will face many long days and nights throughout your careers serving this nation.
You will face danger. You will find yourselves between innocent Fijians and great threats to their safety. And in those moments you must put aside concern for your own well-being and protect those who cannot protect themselves – as that is what you have been called to do.

But your careers will not be defined only by moments of great courage. They will be defined by your day-to-day commitment to being upstanding members of Fijian society and they will be defined by your own adherence to our rule of law and standards of common decency. And in that regard, you must never fail.

I was greatly dismayed by the crime statistics last month – where we had five police officers charged with non-sexual offences and another three with sexual offences. That is completely unacceptable. The Fijian people deserve far better from those entrusted with their safety. And I am here today to tell you, we expect and demand better from all of you.
The sad truth is that it is ordinary people that are made victims by dirty behaviour from bad officers. And it is the faith of the Fijian people that takes the biggest hit when those cops escape unpunished.

That is why I’m glad those officers last month were brought to justice. That is progress. That means greater transparency has been brought to this Force, and we will continue to strip away any layers of corruption that remain. As new officers, it is your duty to be part of that effort. Your commitment to justice must extend beyond combatting crime on the streets, you must also root out any within the Force who abuse their positions for their own gain. In Fiji today, no title and no office can be used as a shield from the rule of law. So if you see bad behaviour, report it, and let our justice system handle the rest.

I want to be clear; I know many of our officers do the right thing, and as a result this Force has achieved tremendous good over the recent past in combatting crime in Fiji. I know there are men and women who have given their all in making Fiji a safer place, they deserve to be commended. But we have to be even better. Because when it comes to our people’s safety, we can never content ourselves with the status quo. You need to be a present force of good in the lives of our citizens. You need to be in the communities that you serve, walking the streets, helping where you can and making our people feel safe.

No member of this Force can ever forget that being an officer does not place you above any in our society. As I serve the people as Prime Minister, you also serve them as officers of the law. Under my Government, we are setting new expectations for all Government employees to achieve new standards of excellence. That applies to our Police Officers as well. And we expect the best from all of you in your work to make Fiji a safe and inclusive nation.
This will ensure further confidence in our economy, lead to more investment, encourage more tourists to come to Fiji, create and sustain jobs and lead to greater prosperity.

In the year ahead, you will also be entrusted with helping carry out our national elections under the Fijian Constitution. That duty is also sacred, and you must be unbiased, take no sides and offer no favours. It is your task to make sure the Fijian people feel safe – at all times – while doing so.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
I want to acknowledge the graduating officers here today from Tuvalu and Nauru. We are always grateful for the strong bonds of friendship we enjoy with our fellow Pacific Island countries, and our co-operation in security and police training has made our entire region a safer place for all of our citizens to call home.

As Pacific Island nations, we face many transnational security threats that we are required to stand together to address, and Fiji remains fully committed to the frameworks for regional security that have already made great progress in taking down criminal elements throughout our region and beyond.

I’m very pleased that we’ve begun preparatory works on our Regional Police Academy. Working alongside INTERPOL, the FBI, Australian Federal Police and New Zealand Police, we are laying a foundation for an Academy that will one day bring regional and international expertise to policing institutions throughout the Pacific – taking our partnerships in policing to even greater heights.

In closing, I ask that you all be more than servants of Fiji. I ask that you be patriots. I ask that you always put this nation and our people first.

When the children of Fiji look to each of you, they should see the very best of Fiji. They should know, that under your watchful eye, they can live their lives without fear. And every Fijian should have nothing but confidence in your abilities. They must know and feel confident that you will apply the law equally to everyone. That you will serve every Fijian equally without being prejudiced by your and their ethnicity, religion, gender or social status. They must know that you are professional.

Congratulations again on your graduation. You’ve been endowed with great purpose as officers of the law, and we are all rooting for your success. My Government will always be there to support you with the tools and resources you need to keep our people safe and keep our future secure – but it is up to each of you to rise to that challenge.

Vinaka vakalevu. Thank you.

© 2018 Ministry of Communications