14 Jan 2003

Police on Solomon Islands' Weather Coast accused of human rights abuses

4:43 pm on 14 January 2003

A delegation from Guadalcanal's Weather Coast is accusing a Solomon Islands police team there of violently beating civilians and other abuses.

The police are on the Weather Coast to monitor the movements of rebel leader Harold Keke.

Abraham Beanisia from the Solomon Islands Development Trust says a group of women, youth, churches and community leaders is in Honiara to highlight the abuses.

He says that group claim that in some instances people were beaten with heated wire.

Mr Beanisia also says the group claim police are recruiting and arming local villagers who assist them in these beatings.

Mr Beanisia says the group also accused Keke, the leader of the Guadalcanal Liberation Front, of attacking the villagers who live within his territorial stronghold.

Mr Beanisia says villagers in Keke's territory are living in makeshift homes after the rebel leader destroyed over 170 homes he destroyed in December.

"They fear that if he is to be captured he should be captured quickly...the police remaining over there is a threat to the people....some people have been beaten by members of the police and have also recruited civilians to work with them and they were given guns, so people are given guns at the same time we are trying to retrieve guns"

Abraham Beanisia.

Radio New Zealand International has not been able to reach the Acting Police Commissioner for comment about the accusations.

The police action to try and capture Keke has been in progress for four months, but last week the Government appointed a peace negotiator to try and reach a dialogue with the rebel leader.