3 Mar 2003

Amnesty International accuses Solomon Islands special constables of torture

12:25 pm on 3 March 2003

Amnesty International says attempts to restore law and order in Solomon Islands are threatened by continuing human rights abuses during the hunt for rebel leader Harold Keke.

Keke is the leader of the Guadalcanal Liberation Front on the Weather Coast of Guadalcanal which helped initiate the civil war.

He is held responsible for more than 20 deaths including the assassination of a Cabinet Minister Fr Augustine Geve last year.

Since November the police have been conducting a campaign to try and capture Keke, and Amnesty's Ced Simpson says during this campaign special constables and civilian volunteers have attacked villagers suspected of helping him.

He says these villagers have been beaten, their houses burned down and livestock killed.

"And since December 2002 their wives have been tortured with heated wire and bush canes. We are concerned that these continuing human rights violations throw into doubt the whole attempt to try and reintroduce law and order to Solomon Islands."