Amnesty International Report 2005 - Solomon Islands
|Publication Date||25 May 2005|
|Cite as||Amnesty International, Amnesty International Report 2005 - Solomon Islands , 25 May 2005, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/429b27f520.html [accessed 31 July 2015]|
Covering events from January - December 2004
International efforts began to rebuild the country following five years of armed conflict that ended in 2003. Australia-led intervention troops escorted 1,600 indigenous Guadalcanalese villagers who had fled to the north coast during the conflict and who returned to rebuild their homes on Guadalcanal. The government discouraged Malaitan settlers from returning to rural Guadalcanal. Post-conflict arrests exceeded 4,000. Some former police, militants and a cabinet minister were jailed as the justice system struggled to keep up with its workload.
The Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI) reduced its military component after security improved. However, in December, 100 RAMSI troops returned after a suspected Malaitan militant shot dead an Australian RAMSI police officer.
By February, nearly 2,000 displaced Guadalcanal villagers had returned to the island's Weathercoast, the majority escorted by Australia-led intervention troops, but many were still sheltering in makeshift huts without access to safe water when visited by AI in April.
The human rights concerns of women and villagers in areas worst affected by the conflict were often sidelined as government and aid donors focused on rebuilding the economy and essential services.
By keeping parliamentary sessions to a minimum, the government evaded public scrutiny of its role during the conflict. It warned former Malaitan settlers displaced from their homes on Guadalcanal in 1999 not to reclaim their properties on Guadalcanal, but did not establish a promised commission of inquiry to resolve land disputes underlying the conflict.
By December most militant leaders were awaiting trial either in custody or on strict bail conditions, including a former Foreign Minister.
By July more than a quarter of the police force, some 400 officers, had been removed from the service. Of those RAMSI said that 70 former police officers, including former deputy commissioners, had been arrested. A further 71 former officers were charged with human rights violations, including rape and other torture. The UN Development Programme helped to demobilize an additional 230 police special constables, most of them recruited from former militant groups.
Despite the opening of a new courtroom at the High Court, the judiciary remained overwhelmed by the post-conflict caseload. As a result, suspects spent up to 16 months in pre-trial detention, fuelling a prison riot in Honiara in August.
- In February, Daniel Fa'afunua, a former militant and cabinet minister, was imprisoned for attacking a RAMSI policewoman during his arrest, but not for attacking his former wife, the action which had prompted his arrest. She had withdrawn her complaint despite being treated in hospital for her injuries. He was also jailed for ordering gunmen to force the publisher of the Solomon Star newspaper to pay US$800 after the newspaper published an article about an unnamed government minister publicly assaulting a taxi driver.
Violence against women
Women's groups raised concerns about violence in the family. A UN-funded workshop trained 20 women in data-collection on the impact of conflict on women. Police reported an increase in the number of women reporting rape, including cases from the conflict period. Of 55 women interviewed by AI in Weathercoast villages about the conflict, 19 reported that they had been raped by police or militant forces. The government failed to create a planned National Policy on Violence against Women and left the police service dependent on RAMSI for essential services. No funds were made available for a police unit to address abuses of women and children.
AI country visits
AI visited conflict-torn areas of Guadalcanal and Malaita islands in April/May.