The decision to forge a partnership with the police to address law and order issues in their area was the main outcome of a meeting held at the Obo Obo settlement as part of the Community Outreach Program of the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI).
The work of the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (RSIPF) in Guadalcanal Province became the focus of the meeting as representatives of the Solomon Islands Government, the RSIPF and RAMSI explained the Mission’s transition to the community.
“Guadalcanal province is the hub of the country’s biggest investment and development projects including the Guadalcanal Plains Palm Oil Limited (GPPOL) and the Gold Ridge mine so there’s bound to be law and order issues,” Guadalcanal Provincial Police Commander, David Diosi, told the meeting. “But we, the police and the community, should work together to address these issues.”
“The best solution for such issues is for us the locals to sit down together and discuss how we should resolve them. This is the only way we can have sustainable solutions to our problems.
“We cannot push the blame for our problems to other people. We have to take collective responsibility for our problems. If the community work together with the local police, there will be a lot of police in the community,” Mr Diosi said.
The Guadalcanal Provincial Police Commander welcomed the leaders of the Gold Ridge communities and other leaders of the province to visit him at the province’s new police headquarters next to the Henderson International Airport to discuss any issue pertaining to law and order in their communities.
During the discussions, one of the Obo Obo community leaders, Titus Soba said people in the Gold Ridge area were among some of the most traumatised as a result of the social unrest.
“But after ten years of RAMSI, our lives are now slowly returning to normal. We have confidence in the deployment of RAMSI. But there is still feeling of fear in our minds as this area hosts some of the major developments in this country. The withdrawal of RAMSI will bring back fear to us. We need the presence of the RSIPF at our police post here,” said Mr Soba.
Chief Stephen Mofeti of Obo Obo village told the meeting that his community wants to see changes so that law and order will be sustained after RAMSI has left Solomon Islands.
“We want our current police to be strong like the police which the country used to have before independence from Britain. We want our Solomon Islands Police to work like the RAMSI Police,” said Chief Mofeti.
During the discussions several members of the Obo Obo community raised concerns about the abuse of alcohol, marijuana and the issuing of liquor licences to businesses in the area.
Guadalcanal Provincial Police Commander Diosi said that as many of the issues raised by the people of Obo Obo were similar to those raised by other communities in the Gold Ridge area it would be a good idea for leaders of the communities to get together and discuss the common issues after which he could make himself available to meet with them.
The proposal was accepted by the leaders of Obo Obo community who agreed to contact leaders of the other communities in the Gold Ridge area and discuss their issues before contacting the Guadalcanal Provincial Police Commander to finalise a date for a meeting with him.
“After RAMSI has left, the responsibility for law and order will be in our hands as Solomon Islanders. We have seen the result of destroying the law in the years of the tension. When RAMSI goes we, the police and the communities, must work hard to protect law and order in our country,” PPC Diosi concluded.
During the Obo Obo Community Outreach, the Government’s Assistant Secretary for RAMSI, Derrick Manu’ari reaffirmed the National Government’s support for the transition of RAMSI which will see the mission become a purely police-focused mission.
“The government and RAMSI have discussed what each side needs to do in the Mission’s transition. We want to make sure there is a smooth transition. We want to make sure we continue to benefit from the achievements of RAMSI.
“RAMSI has planted a tree. We Solomon Islanders must look after this tree and allow it to grow so we can continue to enjoy the fruits of the tree,” said Mr Manu’ari.
The RAMSI transition includes the three components of the Mission – the policing, military and aid contingents.
On policing, RAMSI’s Participating Police Forces (PPF) work today is different from what they did when they first arrived in the country in 2003. Now they are focused on building up the capacity of the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force. This will continue to be their main job in the next four years.
It is planned that the military component of RAMSI, which has had a reduced role and low profile for several years now, will leave in the second half of this year.
On 1 July 2013, RAMSI’s aid program will be given to AusAID and NZAid to manage through their bilateral programs.