7 Mar 2007

Multi-national protection squad suggested for Solomons

5:00 pm on 7 March 2007

There are calls in Solomon Islands for the government to use a composite team of police from the islands countries contributing to the regional assistance mission for its close personnel protection unit.

There has been widespread criticism of the move to a bilateral arrangement with Papua New Guinea to provide protection for the prime minister and governor general.

The PNG opposition is against the idea because of continuing concerns over the impact on Solomon Islands of the actions of the PNG defence force during the Bougainville civil war.

Concerns have also been raised about corruption and the human rights record of the PNG police.

Former MP and Labour Party leader, Joses Tuhanuku, says a composite team of police from the island countries would reflect the spirit of the RAMSI mission.

"'If they said O.K. Australia, New Zealand, would not do this particular duty in Solomon Islands, this could be given to members of the PPF [participating police force] which would include Papua New Guinea, Tonga, Fiji, Vanuatu and so on, it would be much more preferable if it was done that way which would mean within the spirit of RAMSI."

Joses Tuhanuku