Members of the Solomon Islands Women in Business Association (SIWIBA) have expressed appreciation for the decision by the Government to consider the limited rearmament of the Royal Solomon Islands Police (RSIPF).
This followed a briefing on the staged limited rearmament of the RSIPF project by a team representing the Ministry of Police, National Security and Correctional Services; the RSIPF and the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI) to about 50 SIWIBA members in Honiara on 10 September 2015.
In 2013 the Government mandated the Ministry of Police, the RSIPF and RAMSI to consider the rearming of the three Units within the Force as part of RAMSI’s drawdown strategy. The Units include the Police Response Team (PRT), the Close Personal Protection Unit (CPP) and the Aviation Police.
During the discussions which followed the presentation, SIWIBA members thanked the Government for the decision to begin the project by rearming only three units of the RSIPF.
They told the meeting that many women were still fearful of firearms after the ethnic tension. The women considered that the decision by the Government to commence with rearming only three units in the RSIPF was a wise one, as this would allow time for the public confidence in the RSIPF to build.
The women also welcomed the assurance to mothers and children that the training given to officers recruited into the three Units is of the highest standard and that it includes training on the “mindset” of officers being armed. This is aimed at ensuring officers have the skills and understanding needed to make sound decisions on the appropriate use of force in any given situation.
SIWIBA members noted that RAMSI had been very successful in restoring law and order in Solomon Islands. This stability needed to be maintained after the Mission concludes and for this to happen the RSIPF must be rearmed.
SIWIBA members noted that after the briefing from the team, they now had a clearer understanding of the limited rearmament of the RSIPF, agreeing that it was time to strengthen the country’s police force.
SIWIBA members also commented that it was time to look to the future, rather than the past. Some emphasised that for the country to move on, Solomon Islanders must learn to trust and help their police, with communities and police working together to promote continued peace and security.
The Community Working Group on the staged limited rearmament of the RSIPF
has covered most of the provinces as part of the community consultations and will visit the rest in the coming weeks.