HUMAN RIGHTS GROUP HIGHLIGHTS ABUSE BY VANUATU AUTHORITIES

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PORT VILA, Vanuatu (January 1, 2000 – Radio Australia)---The Human Rights group Amnesty International, in a 1999 yearend report, says that dozens of people were ill-treated by police and military officers in Vanuatu, during mass arrests under a four-week state of emergency last January.

The state of emergency was declared after widespread rioting and looting in the capital, Port Vila, prompted by an Ombudsman’s report on corruption by officials.

Amnesty International says dozens of people said they were kicked and beaten by military and police officers during the arrest of some 500 criminal suspects.

As a result of investigations, 18 police officers were charged with intentional assault of prisoners.

All have pleaded not guilty to the charges, which have yet to be heard.

For additional reports from Radio Australia, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Radio Australia.

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