Solomon Islands: ‘State of emergency’ in place as prison crisis continues

Photo: Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation

Solomon Islands has confirmed that the country’s prisons are “closed and empty” after staff are advised to stay home because of “the difficulties in reaching those prisons”.

The acting secretary for the nation’s Attorney General Christopher Houitau made the statement, citing reports from prisons, before telling a crowded news conference in Honiara that employees were made “to return to their normal duties”.

“The prisons are closed and empty and staff must report back to their normal duties today,” he said.

Houitau gave no indication of how staff were made to return to their normal duties, but said this would take some time as the problem was “far from over”.

Meanwhile, at least eight people have been reported to have been wounded in clashes between anti-government demonstrators and riot police in Honiara.

Thousands have taken to the streets of the capital in an angry protest over reports, later denied, that Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare was actually a British citizen.

A government spokesman earlier denied reports Sogavare was actually a British citizen, while telling those outside the country to stay away from the unrest.

But police said several people were injured and journalists were assaulted when protesters attacked them on Wednesday and on Tuesday.

On Wednesday morning, riot police were struggling to clear the streets of the island’s largest city.

A full scale uprising against government corruption has followed allegations of improper financial dealings by the prime minister, in office since 2012.

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