2 Apr 2003

US condemns human rights in PNG, Solomon Islands and Tonga

6:08 am on 2 April 2003

The US State Department says human rights in Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands are declining sharply with random killings and detentions taking place.

In its latest human rights report, the State Department also criticised the lack of democracy in Tonga, saying the government's human rights record is poor.

The report said PNG had serious problems, with police committing arbitrary or unlawful killings, using excessive force when arresting and interrogating suspects, and engaging in excessively punitive and violent raids.

It noted that fraud, voter intimidation, theft of ballot boxes, and violence including rape and murder marred last year's general election.

Of the Solomon Islands it said successive governments had had limited success in restoring peace because of political and institutional weakness and a public perception that leaders were beholden to one of the conflicting parties.

It said special police constables had been engaged in criminal activities, including extortion, robbery, vehicle theft, intimidation, and fraud.

The US also said that in Fiji, ethnic discrimination remained a serious problem while Tuvalu and Kiribati emerged with largely unblemished records.

The State Department did however condemn the occasional practice on some of Kiribati's outer islands for the island councils to order strokes with palm fronds to be administered for public drunkenness or petty theft.