3 Mar 2003

Solomons police say Weather Coast human rights abuses may be continuing

4:47 pm on 3 March 2003

Solomon Islands police say there may be continuing human rights abuses on the Weather Coast of Guadalcanal.

Amnesty International at the weekend said that special constables and civilians attached to the police team hunting the rebel Harold Keke have attacked villagers, torched their houses and destroyed their livestock.

The human rights watchdog says such abuses risk derailing attempts to restore law and order in the Solomons.

Assistant Commissioner John Homelo says he had reports of such attacks before Christmas, and blames special constables operating as free agents.

He says a police team of 45 remains on the Weather Coast to monitor the activities of Harold Keke and in the areas they control he is sure there are no abuses occurring.

"but the Weather coast is quite a big area so other villages, we don't receive anything from them, but the boys are just staying where they are staying.... two or three villages that they look after try to secure them and make them go back to their normal lives, doing their normal activities"