15 Jan 2003

Solomon Islands police deny allegations of human rights abuses on weather coast

12:08 pm on 15 January 2003

The Solomon Islands acting police commissioner has dismissed allegations that a police team sent to the Weather Coast to hunt a rebel leader is beating civilians and committing other human rights abuses.

A police team has been on the Weather Coast trying to capture Harold Keke for around four months.

A delegation of women, youth, church and community leaders is in Honiara to highlight the alleged abuses, and claims police are randomly beating villagers and are recruiting and arming civilians who also beat the local population.

Commissioner John Homelo says the claims are misleading and inaccurate.

He says his police have indicated that militants who are either for or against Keke are behind the beatings.

"These are the militants, the Guadalcanal civilian militants who are harassing people at the villages. They say they are Harold Keke supporters. But for recruiting any civilian there, the police are not doing that. My police officers are still there to monitor the situation there but there are people, civilians themselves, hating each other. They are special constables, former militants IFM, they are still around in that area."

John Homelo