4 Mar 2003

Amnesty International says Solomons police must take action over abuses on WeatherCoast

5:51 pm on 4 March 2003

Amnesty International says action must be taken against the Solomon Islands police, special constables and civilians who have been involved in human rights abuses on Guadalcanal's Weather Coast.

Amnesty at the weekend documented abuses by members of the police team which has been hunting the rebel Harold Keke since October.

It says people have been beaten and tortured with their villages burnt down and livestock destroyed.

Amnesty's Pacific spokesman, Heinz Schurmann Zeggel, says police commanders were alerted to the alleged abuses several months ago, and the only action taken has been to change the personnel.

He says excuses from police that they are unable to take further action are not good enough, and Amnesty will raise this issue with the new commissioner William Morrell.

"...On the whole we're quite confident that the majority of regular police officers in the Solomons Islands are keen to see the situation change, to see the reputation of the police force improve and an end to these kind of actions by civilians and hangers-on. What we're not so confident about, is whether there will be sufficient support from all those concerned, including the general public and the government, of course"