22 Mar 2011

2007 Vanuatu report urges police revamp

3:36 pm on 22 March 2011

A commission of inquiry into police inaction during a riot in the Vanuatu capital, Port Vila, in March of 2007, says there needs to a major revamp of the police force.

It had faced criticism for the inadequate response to the riot in which three people died and houses were burnt down when rival groups from Tanna and Ambrym clashed.

Don Wiseman reports:

"The commission released its report later in 2007 but it was only made public on Monday by the newly appointed justice minister, Ralph Regenvanu. It found that the then police commissioner, Patu Lui, his deputy, Arthur Caulton and the commander of the Vanuatu mobile force, James Aru, had been unprepared if violence was to break out. It criticised the quality of appointments made in the force, saying unsuitable people got jobs while political influence was a factor. It also found the government didn't give policing enough priority in its budgetting and called for a national summit on security and policing. The commission wants to see a restructure and expansion of the force to cater for the rapid social changes taking place and a surging crime rate in Port Vila. It says this should include the separation of the para military VMF from the police to ensure there's no confusion over responsibilities. The commission also wants government funding for the councils of chiefs to give them a more active role in mediating conflicts."