28 May 2002


Staff at national broadcaster threatened, offices damaged

(PINA/IFEX) - On 26 May 2002, PINA Nius Online reported that staff were threatened and a glass door and computer equipment were damaged at the offices of the Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation (SIBC), the country's national radio service. The events occurred in the countdown to the end of an amnesty on the return of guns. The amnesty, which will end on 31 May, is part of a peace agreement, following more than two years of ethnic conflict.

SIBC staff at the main station in Honiara, the capital, were threatened by a group of men after SIBC reported that some paramilitary police boycotted a parade in which other officers returned weapons. PINA Nius Online said the high-powered weapons had been taken from the main police armoury during a coup in Honiara in June 2000. Some paramilitary Police Field Force members had joined one of the militia forces involved in the ethnic conflict and they had jointly taken over the capital. They then forced a change in prime minister and other members of the national government.

PINA President and SIBC general manager Johnson Honimae, who is away in Samoa as a trainer at a regional workshop, deplored attempts to intimidate the national broadcaster. Honimae said he is being briefed regularly by SIBC staff and would follow up on the incident as soon as he gets back to Honiara, PINA Nius Online reported.

Background Information

Solomon Islands news organisations have been among those threatened in continuing lawlessness and killings, despite the peace agreement (see IFEX alerts of 27 and 1 February 2002). The local Peace Monitoring Council and multinational International Peace Monitoring Team have been working to get hundreds of high-powered weapons handed in. These weapons were believed to be in the hands of former militia members, rebel paramilitary police and criminal elements.


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