Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | News Video | Crime | Employers | Housing | Immigration | Legal | Local Govt. | Maori | Welfare | Unions | Youth | Search

 


Solomons: Human rights abuses erode peace talks


Thursday 7 September 2000

Solomon Islands: Human rights abuses erode peace talks

Amnesty International today called on the New Zealand Government to try to ensure that any peace settlement in the Solomon Islands includes processes for bringing members of rival armed groups and the police responsible for unlawful killings, torture and abductions to justice.

Amnesty's call came as the human rights organization issued a new report on human rights violations in the Solomons, and as attempts continue to bring the parties to the conflict together on New Zealand's frigate Te Kaha.

"If human rights abuses continue to remain unpunished, there is little hope for the restoration of peace, law and order, or for justice for victims and their families," said Amnesty's New Zealand director, Ced Simpson.

"Fear of reprisals is feeding a culture of silence about well-known atrocities. Many aggrieved families do not know where to find the bodies of relatives killed in the conflict, or cannot risk searching for them."

A coup in June, supported by many paramilitary police officers, has led to increased fighting on Guadalcanal island between rival ethnic groups, widespread lawlessness and a rapidly deteriorating human rights situation. The coup was led by the Malaita Eagle Force (MEF), comprising settlers from Malaita island, which is fighting Guadalcanal island 'militants' known as the Isatabu Freedom Movement (IFM).

"Ethnic Malaitan police officers defecting to the MEF have disempowered the police service, stripping it of guns, cars and equipment. Criminals have been let out of prisons, and civilians are at the mercy of undisciplined MEF or IFM supporters and criminal opportunists taking advantage of the situation."

Since the conflict began, 20,000 - 30,000 people have fled their homes, at least 100 people are estimated to have been killed, and tens of thousands are cut off from basic food supplies, medical and other relief. In recent months, hundreds of homes have been burnt down or looted and thousands of people abandoned their homes to seek shelter with relatives, on remote islands or in hill forests.

Peace initiatives are currently gathering momentum but have yet to end the violence. Te Kaha, which has been offered by New Zealand as a safe neutral meeting place for peace talks, is due to leave the Solomon Islands on 14 September.

"People live in fear of looting, rape or 'payback' killings by armed political groups and criminal opportunists. Due to the lack of police protection, women and ethnic minorities are particularly vulnerable and have no way of seeking redress," said Mr Simpson.

"Police have been unable or unwilling to bring perpetrators of such abuses to justice, and armed political groups have continued their operations with virtually no risk of arrest. Both rival groups are said to have bases where they reportedly torture captured combatants."

In mid-August, at least four mutilated bodies were found buried in a shallow grave near the capital, among them 18-year-old student John Bosco, a Guadalcanal islander evacuated from a school shelled in June by a police patrol boat. He was abducted early July and allegedly brutally beaten by an armed group from Malaita island because of his ethnicity. His killing followed the reported torture and killing of two Malaitans by the IFM in June.

The current national and international efforts towards a peace agreement and rebuilding the police service must address this ongoing impunity. Plans to grant an amnesty to armed groups must not prevent the authorities from establishing the truth and bringing to justice those responsible for atrocities like torture or the killing of civilians.

"Peace and reconciliation cannot last if killers and torturers can be sure they will never be held to account."

ENDS/

For more information or a copy of the report "Solomon Islands: A Forgotten conflict", please call

Ced Simpson BH 0-4-499 3349 AH 0-4-938 0716 / 0-4-938 0717 mobile 021 371 205

or visit AINZ's website at www.amnesty.org.nz


© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

 

Breed Laws Don’t Work: Vets On New National Dog Control Plan

It is pleasing therefore to see Louise Upston Associate Minister for Local Government calling for a comprehensive solution... However, relying on breed specific laws to manage dog aggression will not work. More>>

ALSO:

Corrections Corrected: Supreme Court Rules On Release Dates

Corrections has always followed the lawful rulings of the Court in its calculation of sentence release dates. On four previous occasions, the Court of Appeal had upheld Corrections’ practices in calculating pre-sentence detention. More>>

ALSO:

Not Waiting On Select Committee: Green Party Releases Medically-Assisted Dying Policy

“Adults with a terminal illness should have the right to choose a medically assisted death,” Green Party health spokesperson Kevin Hague said. “The Green Party does not support extending assisted dying to people who aren't terminally ill because we can’t be confident that this won't further marginalise the lives of people with disabilities." More>>

ALSO:

General Election Review: Changes To Electoral Act Introduced

More effective systems in polling places and earlier counting of advanced votes are on their way through proposed changes to our electoral laws, Justice Minister Amy Adams says. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On Our Posturing At The UN

In New York, Key basically took an old May 2 Washington Post article written by Barack Obama, recycled it back to the Americans, and still scored headlines here at home… We’ve had a double serving of this kind of comfort food. More>>

ALSO:

Treaty Settlements: Bills Delayed As NZ First Pulls Support

Ngāruahine, Te Atiawa and Taranaki are reeling today as they learnt that the third and final readings of each Iwi’s Historical Treaty Settlement Bills scheduled for this Friday, have been put in jeopardy by the actions of NZ First. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The Damage De-Regulation Is Doing To Fisheries And Education, Plus Kate Tempest

Our faith in the benign workings of the market – and of the light-handed regulation that goes with it – has had a body count. Back in 1992, the free market friendly Health Safety and Employment Act gutted the labour inspectorate and turned forestry, mining and other workplace sites into death traps, long before the Pike River disaster. More>>

Get More From Scoop

 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Politics
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news