30 June 1999


Solomon Islands introduces emergency powers restricting media

Incident details

legal action

(PINA/IFEX) - On 28 June 1999, the Solomon Islands Government introduced
emergency powers restricting media reporting amidst an ethnic conflict which
has led to the declaration of a state of emergency. In response, the
national broadcaster, Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation, stopped
rebroadcasting live news bulletins from Radio Australia and the British
Broadcasting Corporation in case they breached the restrictions. This
overseas news is now being taped and rebroadcast after being checked.

**Updates IFEX alert of 3 February 1999**

Those convicted of breaching the emergency restrictions can be jailed for up
to two years and fined up to $Solomons 5,000 (approx. US$1,035). The
restrictions forbid printing, broadcasting or communicating information
which incites violence or is likely to cause racial or communal disharmony.
They also forbid printing, broadcasting or communicating information
"prejudicial" to the safety or interests of the state, or likely to cause
"disaffection" with the government, or "hatred of contempt" for the
administration of justice or national security. The powers also restrict the
printing, broadcasting or communicating of information from official

The state of emergency follows growing ethnic conflict on the island of
Guadalcanal, where Honiara, the Solomons Islands capital, is located. A
Guadalcanal militant movement is trying to drive out people from another
major island, Malaita. The movement is claiming that Malaitans currently
dominate government and business and are increasingly occupying the lands of
the Guadalcanal people. Thousands of Malaitans have fled back to Malaita
following a series of attacks by the militants. The death toll is still
unconfirmed because most of the militant attacks have taken place in the
Guadalcanal countryside. The former Fiji Islands prime minister, Sitiveni
Rabuka, has been sent to the Solomon Islands as a special Commonwealth envoy
to try to help bring peace.

Background Information

Guadalcanal was the scene of a major World War Two battle between
American-led Allied forces and occupying Japanese forces. It recently
featured in the award-winning movie "The Thin Red Line." Honiara became the
capital of the then British Solomon Islands after Word War Two. It grew from
a base and port built by the United States forces during the battle to
retake the Solomon Islands from the Japanese.


Pacific Islands News Association
Level 2, 46 Gordon Street, Damodar Centre
Private Mail Bag, Suva
Fiji Islands
pina (@) connect.com.fj
Fax:+679 3317055
Solomon Islands
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