(eng) Killings in Bougainville

Darren Jones (djones@arts.adelaide.edu.au)
Tue, 10 Dec 1996 11:06:42 +1030 (CST)



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AMNESTY-L:


News Service 235/96
AI INDEX: ASA 34/05/96
6 DECEMBER 1996

PAPUA NEW GUINEA: GOVERNMENT YET AGAIN TURNS A BLIND EYE TO
LATEST KILLINGS ON ISLAND OF BOUGAINVILLE

Serious human rights violations on the island of Bougainville
have yet again been met with a resounding silence from the
Papua New Guinea (PNG) Government, as more civilians were
reportedly killed last week by the security forces, Amnesty
International said today.

~The government has consistently failed to respond
adequately to killings, ~disappearances~ and torture by its
forces since the eight-year conflict began,~ the organization
said.

~This lack of action by the government has allowed the
security forces to continue committing grave human rights
violations in the knowledge that they are unlikely to be held
accountable for their actions.~

In the most recent in a series of killings of civilians
by the PNG Defence Force (PNGDF) and the government-backed
paramilitary Resistance Forces, nine civilians were
reportedly killed and five wounded in a mortar attack by the
PNGDF on a church in Malapita, South Bougainville in what
Amnesty International believes may have been indiscriminate
killings by the PNGDF.

According to press reports, including in the Australian
newspaper, the mortar fell on the church during a morning
prayer session, and all of those killed are believed to be
civilians. The attack was in an area under the control of the
armed secessionist Bougainville Revolutionary Army (BRA) but
there appear to have been no military objectives in the
vicinity.

PNGDF~s Chief of Staff, Colonel Jack Tuat, commenting
on the reports, gave no commitment that the incident would be
investigated and there does not appear to have been any
reaction yet from the government. Verification of the exact
circumstances of the attack has been hampered by lack of
access for independent observers.

~Unless the authorities allow access to Bougainville
for independent human rights observers and unless mechanisms
are set up for investigating any allegations of violations
and holding those responsible to account, the people of
Bougainville will continue to be defenceless against further
killings, ~disappearances~, arbitrary arrests and ill-
treatment, ~ Amnesty International said.

Throughout the conflict human rights violations by the
security forces and abuses by the armed secessionist BRA have
been facilitated by the lack of international and domestic
scrutiny, as journalists and human rights monitors have been
barred from the island. This is despite recommendations from
the United Nations Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial,
summary or arbitrary executions for greater access to the
island.

With only one exception, none of the dozens of reports
of extrajudicial killings and ~disappearances~ in the past
two years have been addressed by the government. Members of
the security forces alleged to have committed violations have
not been investigated or prosecuted, and many remain
stationed on the island.

In November, in an unprecedented move, the PNG
Government invited a Sri Lankan judge to conduct a coroner~s
inquiry into the death of former Bougainville Premier,
Theodore Miriung, in October. Last week, the judge released
his preliminary findings that PNGDF soldiers and members of
the Resistance Forces were responsible for the killing.

Amnesty International welcomed the willingness of the
government to establish an independent coroner~s inquiry into
Theodore Miriung~s death, but actions taken by the
authorities since the preliminary findings do not suggest
that this inquiry reflects a consistent change of government
policy to ensure independent and full investigations of all
human rights violations on Bougainville.

Soldiers who are alleged to have been involved in the
killing are still stationed in the area where the killing
took place, despite a recommendation by the coroner~s inquiry
that they be removed.

~Any attempt to further independently investigate the
killing of Theodore Miriung will undoubtedly be hampered by
the continuing presence of soldiers alleged to have been
involved,~ Amnesty International said. ~The army unit
implicated in the killings must be removed from the area so
that eyewitnesses will be able to more freely provide
information to the continuing investigation.~
ENDS\


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