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Thursday, July 26, 2007

Australian Federal Police denies Honiara 2006 riot allegations over instructions to shoot rioter's necks with non-lethal weapons

Claims a senior officer breached the rules of engagement by instructing staff deployed to the Solomon Islands to aim for rioters' necks with non-lethal weapons are false, the Australian Federal Police (AFP) said yesterday.

The AFP said it had investigated a number of allegations raised in a parliamentary inquiry into Australia's involvement in peacekeeping operations, and found they had no substance.

World Vision said the claims in its submission to the inquiry came from serving AFP officers.

The aid group said an international deployment group team leader had given "inappropriate, and possibly illegal information" during a presentation to ADF and New Zealand police force members in the Solomon Islands.

"The team leader concerned ... reportedly informed participants that, from his experience in mine security in PNG, a person's neck was a good place to aim with a 12 gauge beanbag round, since this could render the person unconscious, and that shooting people in the back as they were fleeing was also acceptable," World Vision said.

AFP "use of force orders" prohibited shooting above the shoulders except in the most extreme circumstances, which would also not include people fleeing, the submission said.

World Vision also raised allegations that officers used weapons during the Honiara riots on April 18 last year that had not been approved. The rules were then amended retrospectively the next day.

The AFP said it had investigated and ruled out the allegations last year, well before World Vision made its March 20, 2007 submission.

"The Australian Federal Police is aware of claims made by World Vision in their submission to the Senate standing committee on foreign affairs, defence and trade's inquiry into Australia's involvement in peacekeeping operations," a spokesman said.

"World Vision never sought clarification from the AFP on the allegations made in their submission.

"AFP Professional Standards had investigated the allegations raised in the submission in 2006. The investigation found that there was no substance to the allegations."

Professional Standards is a branch of the AFP that deals with complaints about members.

Source: Sydney Morning Herald

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