HCC law enforcers allegedly arrested, assaulted man for ‘shouting’

BY NED GAGAHE & MAVIS N PODOKOLO

The Honiara City Council’s law enforcement is under the spotlight for abuse of power, following its members’ arrest and assault of a man for ‘shouting’ at the officers.

The incident occurred on Tuesday when HCC law enforcers demolished street food vendors’ tables and confiscated their produces at the raintree shade beside the King Solomon hotel, and outside the Girl Guides area.

After detaining the food vendors near the Girl Guides, members of HCC law enforcers ran towards the Anthony Saru building ground floor, entered the SIEA Cashpower office, assaulted and dragged the security guard outside and bundled him into their landcruiser, witnesses told Island Sun.

Chris Inosia, the 38-year-old guard, intends to open police case against the Honiara City Council (HCC) Law Enforcement Officers who apprehended and assaulted him.

Inosia, an employee of Focus Security Services Limited was arrested by Law Enforcement Officers on Tuesday for what they say Inosia was yelling insults at them and interfering with their job.

Inosia, denied the he was shouting at the officers, instead he said the officers mistook his yelling which was directed towards two women food sellers who were running away from the raid.

He was swiftly apprehended and forcibly taken into custody by seven HCC officers who transported him in a Landcruiser to HCC headquarters.  

Speaking to Island Sun yesterday, the father of six from East Kwara’ae confirmed that he will pursue the case with the police.

He is currently awaiting his medical report from Doctors at the National Referral Hospital.

Chris said once he received the report from doctors then he will proceed to open the case with the police.

He said he was held from 11 and later released around 3:30pm where he was punched repeated and traumatize.

He described the physical assault, recounting how he was punched repeatedly, even facing a challenge to fight from one officer.

Despite his attempts to explain the misunderstanding regarding his shouting at two women to show their permits, Chris alleges the officers did not listen and continued their assault.

“I shouted at the two women, urging them to present their permit to the officers to avoid confiscation of their belongings.

“However, the officers inside the HCC vehicle mistook my shouts as directed towards them. Moments later, I retreated to the office and sat down. To my shock, they barged in, punching me immediately.

“Despite my attempts to resist, they forcibly dragged me outside, with one officer even attempting to break my hand.

“Then, they thrust me into the Landcruiser, where the assault continued. Upon arrival at HCC headquarters, I was thrown out of the vehicle and taken into a small room.

“Without inquiry, they commenced a barrage of punches. Despite my efforts to explain, they ignored my pleas, intensifying the assault.

“At one point, I nearly lost consciousness, resorting to washing my head with water to regain my composure.”

“Despite his pleas for understanding and attempts to clarify the situation, he endured relentless beatings until he nearly lost consciousness.

“Chris revealed the officers warned him against reporting the incident, threatening him with charges if he dared to do so.

Allan Tom the General Manager of Focus Security Services Limited strongly condemn the incident.

“I was not aware of the incident until when Solomon Power called me to have one of their security officers to be sent over at the Plaza to relief Chris while he was taken by the HCC Law enforcement officers.

“Yes, at least the officers have the curtesy to call and inform us his employer for us to aware of what is the situation, so that we go down and settle the issue.

“The HCC Law enforcement officers had never made any attempt to inform us.

“The action they did is inhumane. They know the law and they should ask him what happened and to beat him like that, I for one I am totally disagree.

I mean they should have concern that he is a human being. They should question him on the right way. At least one of our representatives is there to witness what happened.

“For their action to beat him up I am totally disagreeing with that.” Tom said.

The Head of Law Enforcement for the Honiara City Council, Robert Madeo, said in an interview that their enforcement authority allows officers to arrest anyone who insults or disturbs them while they’re doing their job.

Regarding an incident this week where a security guard was arrested by  Honiara City Council  enforcement officers, Madeo said he wasn’t aware of it until later that day.

He assured the public that they can voice complaints and concerns about such incidents and promised to investigate the matter.

Madeo emphasised that while they understand people’s right to complain, they also have the authority to arrest those who insult or disrupt them during their duties.

Meanwhile, the HCC Bill Amendment Bill, 2023, says the following:

55N Function and powers of law enforcement officers

(1) The function of a law enforcement officer is to enforce this Act and Ordinances.

(2) In performing that function, if the law enforcement officer believes on reasonable grounds that a

person is committing or has committed an offence under this Act or an Ordinance, the law

enforcement officer may:

(a) require the person to state his or her full name and usual place of residence and to produce

evidence of the person’s identity; or

(b) enter and search premises or a vehicle which appear to be being used or to have been used for

committing the alleged prescribed offence; or

(c) ask the person questions relating to the alleged prescribed offence; or

(d) ask the person to give the law enforcement officer specified information or a specified thing relating

to the alleged prescribed offence, or to produce the information or thing at a specified place and time;

or

(e) search the person’s bags or other articles in the person’s possession; or arrest and detain the person

or arrest the person and take the person to the nearest police officer or police station; or

(f) arrest and detain the person or arrest the person and take the person to the nearest police officer or

police station; or

(g) ask another person, who the law enforcement officer reasonably believes has knowledge of matters

in respect of information about the alleged commission of the offence, questions about such matters; or

(h) seize and retain goods or movable property which the law enforcement officer believes on

reasonable grounds to have a connection with the alleged commission of the prescribed offence and

issue a receipt for the goods to the person in whose possession the goods appear to be; or

(i) as provided for by a court order, destroy or demolish property in connection with the commission of

a prescribed offence; or

(j) under Division 2, issue infringement notices and receive payments of fixed penalties; or

(k) take necessary steps and use reasonable force to take an action under paragraph (b), (e), (f), (g), (h)

and (i).

(3) If a law enforcement officer arrests a person under the age of 18 years, the officer must as soon as

practicable take the person to the nearest police officer or police station.

(4) A person is not obliged to provide information as required under this section if to do so might tend to

incriminate the person or make the person liable to a penalty.

(5) A police officer may assist a law enforcement officer perform the law enforcement officer's function.

(6) A law enforcement officer who arrests a person under subsection (2), must not after doing so

continue investigating the case against a person, unless the law enforcement officer does so in

accordance with a warrant obtained from a Magistrate.

(7) The procedures for arresting or detaining a person under this section must comply with the Criminal

Procedure Code (Cap.7).

55Q Offences relating to law enforcement officers

(1) A person commits an offence if the person:

(a) assaults, obstructs or hinders a law enforcement officer performing his or her function; or

(b) aids or incites another person to assault, obstruct or hinder a law enforcement officer performing his

or her function; or

(c) uses abusive, threatening or insulting language to a law enforcement officer performing his or her

function; or

(d) if required by a law enforcement officer to give or produce information or to answer a question:

(i) gives, produces or provides false information; or

(ii) fails to comply with the requirement to the best of the person’s knowledge, information and belief.

Maximum penalty: 20,000 penalty units or imprisonment for 5 years, or both

(2) A person commits an offence if:

(a) the person is a law enforcement officer; and

(b) the person directly or indirectly asks for or takes an unlawful reward or payment.

Maximum penalty: 50,000 penalty units or imprisonment for 10years, or both

(3) A person commits an offence if the person directly or indirectly offers or gives a law enforcement officer an unlawful reward or payment.

Maximum penalty: 50,000 penalty units or imprisonment for 10 years, or both

Division 4 Detention of persons

55R City Council may detain persons

(1) The City Council:

(a) may detain persons aged 18 years or more arrested by law enforcement officers; and

(b) may establish facilities for detaining those persons; and

(c) has a duty to take care of and protect the persons detained and must fulfil that duty.

(2) The detention of a person under this section must be in accordance with:

(a) the Constitution; and

(b) the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for Treatment of Prisoners (General Assembly

resolution 70/175, adopted 17 December 2015).

(3) The manner of construction of the City Council's detention facilities must be to a standard and in a manner that enables the City Council to comply with subsection (2).

55S City Council procedures for detaining persons

(1) Where the City Council establishes detention facilities, the City Council must:

(a) establish procedures for:

(i) admitting and managing detainees, including their access to visitors and religious observance; and

(ii) maintaining good order and security at the facilities; and

(iii) managing the health and welfare of the persons detained; and

(b) establish and maintain records of detained person's identity and reason for the person's detention, warrants, appearances, sentences and other information about the detention of the person.

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