Concerns of Police Mistreatment In West Ambae

THIS WEEK A member of the Bulubulu Council of Chiefs of West Ambae, approached Transparency International Vanuatu (TIV) with details of a concerning incident that happened last week on Wednesday, on the western part of the island of Ambae.

The concerned individual, who wishes to remain anonymous, said early last month that the police officer who resides in their area arrested a traditional doctor without a warrant, he beat him up and locked him in jail overnight.

He said since the beginning of this year this law enforcement officer has been mistreating people in their district without following the proper procedures.

Apparently, accusations were instigated by a group who accused the victim to have tricked young girls into removing their clothes so he can spit traditional leaves on them to cure them of their illnesses.

When the officer heard the rumors he went and arrested and beat the victim without verifying “if the rumors were true”, reported the source.

When the officer released the beat-up victim from the Police Station in the morning, the victim returned to Saratamata where he was selling his traditional medicine.

TIV was told that last Wednesday the victim visited the area and was again beaten up by the same officer.

The concerned leader said that the victim visited the area to conduct a custom ceremony to a family concerning another issue. But after the ceremony he was taken to the officer’s compound near Walaha Airport and again he was beaten up by the officer in front of two witnesses.

After that, the officer told the victim not to tell anyone about what happened and let him go.

The officer has reportedly been beating up suspects in his district and locking them up in the police station since the beginning of this year.

Meanwhile, a team from the Professional Standard Unit visited West Ambae on Tuesday to conduct an awareness program. A member of the community related the story to them and they (PSU) agreed with the community that such practice is against formal police procedures.

TIV understands that the victim is now in Saratamata to report his mistreatment by the police officer to the police authority in Saratamata, East Ambae.

Police officers are delegated with the fundamental responsibilities of protecting the people of Vanuatu, they are also the enforcers of law and order in our communities. The mistreatment of individuals by certain police officers is not a new case, last year TIV reported a similar incident that occurred on Santo. Over the years similar cases have been committed in different communities in both the rural and in the urban areas.

TIV encourages citizens to report the misconducts of police officers to the Professional Standard Unit (PSU), the PSU is a unit within the Vanuatu Police Force tasked with looking into complaints against police behavior or misconducts. The PSU Tel: 23351, Email: policecomplaint@vanuatu.gov.vu

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