Police handcuffs suspects, prisoners at Court

Suspects remanded in custody and prisoners appearing at the Court house are now handcuffed.

Police Commissioner, Fuiavailiili Egon Keil, said the new development was implemented this week to ensure the safety of members of the public.  

Fuiavailiili said the use of handcuffs also allows Police officers the manage the number of suspects and prisoners who appear in Court on the same day. On some days, this number can go as high as 30.

“It is for the safety of the Judges, participants, police officers and everyone to ensure we have some control of those in custody and prisoners,” said the Commissioner. 

Unlike before, prisoners and those detained in custody freely walk the Courts hallway without handcuffs.

In the Supreme Court on Monday, suspects that appeared for their matters were brought in handcuffs and had exited the room from a door inside the Court.  

But time has changed and Fuiavailiili said the limited number of Police officers stationed at the Courts makes it difficult for the men in uniform to keep control and manage the various Courts. 

“There is a shortage of police officers but handcuffing them will make our work a lot safer,” he said. 

“There are about 30 custodies and prisoners in Court on Monday and we don’t have enough officers to monitor them. 

“We’ve been monitoring our policies and how we do businesses…At the end of the day we all want people to be safe, and the last thing we need is someone being injured [from those in custody].”

In the past, a reporter was also assaulted at the Court House after a prisoner threw a bottle of water at her before Police could stop the convict. 

 The Commissioner is mindful of how the handcuffs being used and perceived as disrespectful and belittles someone, but he feels the safety of the people outweighs it all. 

He pointed out the use of handcuffs is a common practice in the region in islands like Fiji, Tonga and New Zealand and Samoa is following those practices. 

In those jurisdictions, Fuiavailiili said suspects are not allowed to come out and have any contact with anyone. 

Furthermore, he said the main goal is for the suspects to dress and address the Court with respect and appropriately and to professionalise their work. 

Asked if there are enough handcuffs, the Commissioner replied no and are working with international partners to assist in supplying more. 

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