Fiji Police Force Chief of Intelligence and Investigations ACP Biu Matavou said the use of social media to post and share graphic photos of accident victims had spiralled out of control. There was little or no consideration and respect for the victim and their families.
ACP Matavou said that this must stop.
Images of the deceased, Sarwan Singh, 39, who died instantly in an accident in Davuilevu, Nausori, went viral on social media yesterday morning.
Images shared showed body parts of the deceased lying on the ground and in the vehicle and witnesses saw a number of people holding body parts and taking selfies and photos of each other.
At 6:30am yesterday the images of the body parts were already viral on social media such as the Fiji Roads Accident Page on Facebook.
A quick check at 5.30pm yesterday showed that images of the accident were still on social media.
However, some images of the body parts had been removed by the administrators of Facebook pages. But users were seen still posting images and comments on what had transpired earlier in the day.
ACP Matavou said a directive has been issued to the Divisional Police Commander East to look into the conduct of certain members of the public at the scene of yesterday’s accident.
ACP Matavou said the manner in which some have displayed the insatiable need to take photos of the victim even to the extent of posing with the victim’s decapitated limbs was shameful and disrespectful.
“Members of the public are reminded that once Police have cordoned off a scene of crime it becomes an immediate breach of the law for anyone to enter the restricted area and try to interfere with the investigation process.
“We have also received photos whereby a person is holding up what is supposedly the decapitated limb of the victim.
“As the Police have already cordoned off the scene their actions, therefore, becomes illegal.’’
He said this was not only illegal but also a major health concern.
ACP Matavou said there were a number of hazards in disturbing a scene of crime which was first and foremost unethical.
“But the handling of the victim’s decapitated limbs is a bio hazard as one is exposing themselves to potential harmful diseases,’’ ACP Matavou said.
“We understand that there will be certain accident cases whereby First Aid can be administered or assistance given before the arrival of emergency services which we will not discourage.
“However, the actions of those who have posted on social media and posed with the decapitated limbs is truly shameful.”
Director Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission Ashwin Raj said what unfolded in social media straight after the accident was an assault on the dignity and an impingement on the right to privacy of the deceased, including his grieving family.
Mr Raj said people who were posting these undignified images would not want such images posted of them and their loved ones should such a tragedy befall them.
“This is about human decency,” Mr Raj said.