The Premier of Central Islands Province, Selwyn Mapuli, members of his Executive, students at the MacMahon Community High School as well as vendors at the Tulagi Market have been briefed on the staged limited rearmament of the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force and the drawdown of the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI).
The briefing was conducted by a team comprising of representatives of the Ministry of Police, National Security and Correctional Services; the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (RSIPF) and the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI) on 23 September 2015.
Following the briefing to the CIP Premier and some members of his Executive, Hon. Mapuli thanked RAMSI for the intervention in 2003 after the ethnic tension.
“The intervention by RAMSI has brought confidence to the country especially Central Province which was in the battle ground during the tension,” Premier Mapuli told the visiting team.
Hon. Mapuli said, “Central Province fully supports the decision by the Solomon Islands Government to consider the rearming of three units in the RSIPF. There are rumours that there are still illegal firearms in the community and while the firearms remain at large, crimes will continue to be committed with the use of these firearms. It is because of this that the Central Provincial Government fully supports the rearmament of RSIPF to assist it retrieve the illegal firearms.”
Support for the limited rearmament of the RSIPF was also expressed during the consultations at the McMahon Memorial Community High and Primary Schools and Tulagi Market.
However, several areas of concern were raised for consideration by the Government. These included:
- The importance of restoring confidence and integrity in officers of the RSIPF;
- A high standard of training and accountability for those officers in the three Units in the RSIPF that will be rearmed;
- The need for members of the RSIPF to be physically fit;
- Consideration be given to rearm the entire RSIPF;
- The need for qualified officers to lead the three units that will be rearmed;
- The requirement to set up strong security systems at the armoury in the police headquarters in Rove, Honiara.
In responding to the issues raised, members of the team representing the Ministry of Police, the RSIPF and RAMSI explained that 70 to 80 per cent of the current Force have been recruited after the tension. The RSIPF’s focus on crime prevention would see police officers engaging more with communities and help strengthen public trust and confidence in the force.
The team advised further that the training undertaken by officers in the three Units to be rearmed is of the highest standards and includes training enabling officers to make sound decisions during crisis situations. Those officers who did not meet the high standards of training would not continue in the limited rearmament program.
The limited rearmament of the RSIPF will start with the Police Response Team (PRT), the Close Personal Protection Unit (CPP) and the Aviation Police. The PRT will be responsible for managing any security incidents out in the provinces should a police response requiring a lethal capability be necessary.
A high security system will be set up at the new Armoury being constructed at the Rove Police Headquarters in Honiara to secure against unauthorised access to weapons. Extensive governance arrangements were also being developed.
The community consultation team on the staged limited rearmament of the RSIPF is scheduled to brief the Choiseul Provincial Assembly and other communities at Taro next week. The team encourages people around Taro to attend the meetings planned for 30 September.