21 Sep 2007

Vanuatu Commission of Inquiry raises questions of security capability

5:12 pm on 21 September 2007

A Commission of Inquiry report into the deadly clashes in Vanuatu's capital on March 3rd has raised questions about the capability of the security forces.

The newly released report on the violence which left three people dead in a tribal conflict near Port Vila's Blacksands squatter settlement is critical of what it calls a slow police response to the tension.

It also pinpoints blame on police hierarchy for not dispatching properly equipped or trained officers to cope with the situation.

The Commissioner of the Inquiry, Heather Lini-Leo, says that the top three police officials were out of the country at the time, but had been informed in advance that trouble was brewing at Blacksands.

"The police never went on the scene until late at night. It was a situation where, I would say, there was no planning. It caught them by surprise. The Acting Commissioner of Police was panicking and they just didn't know what to do."

Heather Lini-Leo says the Commission found that the deaths could have been avoided if police had responded adequately to the violence.