In brief: News from around the Pacific

Tuesday 5 October 2021 | Written by RNZ | Published in Pacific Islands, Regional

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In brief: News from around the Pacific
Photo: Suuplied/ Solomon Islands Ministry of Health

Jail over political roadblock; vaccination target in Solomon Islands; and Samoan Parliament staffer suspended over online comments

Two Samoan men given jail time over roadblock

In Samoa, a man convicted of charges in connection with a roadblock at Salelologa, Savaii has been sentenced to 20 months in prison.

The Samoa Observer reports the second defendant was handed a two-year suspended sentence.

The pair were charged with disorderly behaviour and had also been accused of setting up a roadblock at Salelologa that effectively stopped a planned Human Rights Protection Party vehicle rally around Savaii in August.

HRPP leader Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi called off the rally for safety reasons after gunshots were heard at the roadblock.

Two matai of Sasina village have also been charged by police for setting up a separate roadblock on the same day at their village.

They have been released on bail to await trial later this month on charges of insulting words, threatening words and disorderly conduct in a public place.

Vaccination target in Solomons

The Solomon Islands Prime Minister says Cabinet has set a 90 ercent full vaccination coverage target for the border to reopen.

Manasseh Sogavare said Cabinet has directed a committee to undertake critical analysis and recommendations on how and when it should consider reopening the border.

The Prime Minister says central to this is vaccination coverage.

He said all countries that have successfully reopened their borders had achieved more than 80 percent full vaccination coverage of their eligible population.

Sogavare said as much as he would like to see that everyone is safe from Covid-19, the Solomon Islands cannot remain in isolation forever.

The Prime Minister also said several people from Bougainville have crossed the border to harvest beche-de-mer in Solomon Islands, and that they have interacted with people in the Shortlands.

He said this type of activity increases the risk of Covid-19 transmission.

In July, Bougainville's official death toll from Covid-19 was two, with over 400 confirmed cases.

Parliament staffer suspended over online comments

A Samoa Legislative Assembly employee has been suspended for four weeks after apparently ridiculing Members of Parliament on social media.

The Samoa Observer reports House Speaker Papali'i Li'o Ta'eu Masipa'u confirmed that an employee's social media post had disrespected MPs.

He says it's apparent the Facebook post goes against the ethics and standards of the Legislative Assembly.

The newspaper reports an MP had complained to the Speaker about the post.

Papali'i said this should also send out a warning to other staff of the Legislative Assembly that he will not tolerate this kind of behaviour.

Lockdown in NZ causing more Pasifika to gamble online

New Zealand's Covid-19 lockdown is causing more Pasifika to turn to their devices to feed their gambling habits according to a Tongan academic.

Edmond Fehoko, who recently completed his PhD on gambling harm to Pasifika communities in New Zealand, is warning against the impacts of online gambling, saying it's dangerous and has been getting worse during New Zealand's lockdown.

Dr Fehoko said Pasifika are at the most risk from online gambling than any other group in Aotearoa.

New Caledonia has new French police commander.

Colonel Fabrice Spinetta has been appointed to the fill the vacancy at the top of the gendarmerie created by Colonel Eric Steiger who quit the job in August after only one month in office.

Colonel Steiger resigned after a public outcry over a report by French media that he had been convicted for domestic violence.

He said he didn't want attacks on him to cast doubt on the commitment of the French state and the police to fight domestic violence.

Colonel Steiger was given a suspended six-month prison sentence which on appeal was changed to a €6,000 fine.

Colonel Spinetta had been the interim head of the force since Colonel Steiger's departure.

Paris has sent former commander General Christophe Marietti to New Caledonia to help supervise extra security for the December referendum on independence from France.

Workshop for better kava

The Solomon Islands government is running workshops for farmers on Kolombangara Island on producing quality kava.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock's two-day workshop recently covered Kava harvesting, processing and sun drying procedures.

The Ministry's Chief Field Officer for Western Province, Sipuru Rove, says kava demand is high locally and overseas, and there's a need for more attention on processing procedures.

A total of 22 farmers from ward 12 around Ringi area participated in the training.