Fiji police arrest outspoken former surgeon over covid ‘misinformation’

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Former Fiji surgeon Dr Jone Hawea
Former Fiji surgeon Dr Jone Hawea at his home in Lautoka ... arrested during curfew. Image: Reinal Chand/Fiji Times

By Luke Rawalai in Suva

Fiji police have confirmed the arrest of former surgeon Dr Jone Hawea, a critic of the country’s covid pandemic response, from his Lautoka home during curfew hours.

Police spokesperson Ana Naisoro said Dr Hawea was taken in for police interrogation on allegations of allegedly sharing misinformation about covid-19.

“We confirm the arrest of Dr Hawea by our officers last [Tuesday] night,” Naisoro said.

“He is currently being questioned at the CID Headquarters in Suva.”

Dr Hawea was arrested in Lautoka and transported to Suva by police officers.

His lawyer, Aman Ravindra-Singh, condemned the arrest, saying he could not access his client because the arrest had been conducted during curfew hours.

Ravindra-Singh said he had been informed by his client at 3am yesterday morning that police had taken him straight to Suva.

‘Whisked out of homes’
“It is a serious concern that people get to be arrested in the middle of the night, to be whisked out of their homes amid these covid restrictions,” he said.

“What has happened to safety protocols?

“I am representing Mr Hawea and I have not been able to access him because all of these took place during curfew hours.

“He has been denied justice and his human rights.”

Police spokesperson Ana Naisoro had not yet commented on the concerns raised by Ravindra-Singh.

Several senior political figures and human rights advocates were detained by police last month for criticising the government’s strategy to address the pandemic and their rejection of the controversial iTaukei Land Act.

Fiji now has 18,916 active cases in isolation and the death toll is at 453, with 451 of them from the April outbreak.

Luke Rawalai is a Fiji Times reporter. Republished with permission.

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