21 Sep 2007

Vanuatu police accused of inadequate response to Vila clashes in March

1:52 pm on 21 September 2007

A Vanuatu Commission of Inquiry into the March ethnic riot in the capital Port Vila has found the police response to the events was inadequate.

The Commission has just released its report on the violence which left three people dead in a conflict between Tanna and Ambrym islanders from the Blacksands squatter settlement.

The clashes also saw several people seriously injured besides burning and looting of property, prompting the government to enforce a two-week state of emergency in Vila.

The report is critical of the police response to the clashes as they unfolded.

It says police did not act to stem the tension as soon as they could have, and pinpoints blame on police hierarchy for not dispatching properly equipped or trained officers to cope with the situation.

This is in addition to claims by the opposition leader at the time, Serge Vohor, who said the Criminal Investigations Division of the Police knew in advance that trouble was brewing at Blacksands.