RAMSI pleased with Solomons police response to riots
The Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands says local police response to Honiara riots shows its capacity to maintain order is increasing.
The Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands says the way the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force, or RSIPF, responded to riots in Honiara over the weekend demonstrates its increasing capacity to maintain order.
Rioting and looting occured on both Friday and Saturday nights, and the RSIPF, with assistance from RAMSI's Participating Police Force, or PPF, used tear gas to subdue the offenders.
The RAMSI deputy special coordinator, Richard Griffith, says the situation is now stable, but both police forces are on standby to respond if required.
Mr Griffith told Mary Baines the Solomon Island's force is taking the lead, while Ramsi's will continue to be there to support it.
RICHARD GRIFFITH: Look, we absolutely commend the RSIPF. The last decade, RAMSI has been supporting RSIPF capability and we've been working with them. And in the last two years in particular, their capability to manage public order incidents has really grown from strength to strength. So what we saw on Friday night was a significant RSIPF response to the rioting, with PPF's support. And we're very happy with the way they responded and we really have genuine confidence in their ability to manage things here in-country.
MARY BAINES: Are you at all concerned that there is potentially more unrest to come?
RG: We had some serious rioting on Friday night but Saturday night was only a couple of minor incidents which the local police dealt with very effectively, and since then we've had a fairly calm situation on the street. So at the moment, as things currently stand, we're comfortable with the security situation but all of the local police, the RSIPF, and the PPF, are on standby to respond to any incidents.
MB: Do you feel as though the riots came as a surprise or was there a feeling of building unrest?
RG: We picked up some reports last week of concerns amongst the community but we get these on a regular basis. So it's very difficult to differentiate reliable rumours from general rumours on the streets of Honiara. So we had some indication of problems, but the scale of those problems but the scale of those problems quickly grew. But we responded I think appropriately at the time.
MB: What is the nature of the assistance that RAMSI is able to give Solomons police at the moment, are RAMSI police increasingly standing back and letting Solomons police respond?
RG: Since transition of the RAMSI mission in July 2013, the RAMSI police here in Solomon Islands has been focussed on capacity building of the Solomon Island's police force. So what that means that we've been doing is mentoring, training, providing advice to the RSIPF. But the second key part of our mission is when the security situation, or if it deteriorates, then we're here to support the Solomon Islands goverment in partnership. So in those situations we step up and assist the RSIPF. But what I would underline is that we very much let the RSIPF take the lead, they plan for the security operations in Solomon Islands. We support them when required and we stay in very close contact with them.
MB: Has there been any consideration to beefing up the RAMSI police numbers temporarily?
RG: As the Commissioner of Police said, she's comfortable with the police forces in the country, particularly the RSIPF, with the support of the RAMSI participating police forces to manage security as it currently stands.
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