20 Aug 2013

Collusion will not be tolerated warns Solomons police boss

8:05 pm on 20 August 2013

Solomon Islands' acting police commissioner is warning that officers who collude with members of the public will be dealt with severely.

The increased capacity of the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force is being emphasised, as the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands is downsized to a policing-only operation for the next four years.

There's widespread belief in the community that police corruption is as much an issue as it was 10 years ago when RAMSI police officers first entered the country to help restore law and order following the ethnic tensions.

But the Police chief Juanita Matanga told Annell Husband there must be true partnership between the police and the community in order to combat ongoing challenges - such as catching escaped prisoners.

JUANITA MATANGA: For instance when we talk about corruption, when we talk about police corruption we talk about communities as well. For instance we have a number of escapees out there and police cannot do anything unless people come forward and that's a classic example of what I'm talking about.

ANNELL HUSBAND: Are you talking about just regular escapees from prison or are you talking about people such as Edmond Sae?

JM: Many aspect of people that I'm talking about yeah, for example like that, some people have escaped from prison, they are still at large. We can only do our best when people support us, we can only do our best when people come forward and say 'yes they are here, yes we are prepared to give them to you'.

AH: In your perspective would you want to see the participating police force go on any longer than four years, do you have any particular views on that?

JM: I don't really have a view to talk on that however during this process we have all seen the need to work in partnership to see where the gaps are and then we will continue to strengthen. Of course people will have anxieties because of the last ten years but this is where we need to put our hands together as Solomon Islanders to take the challenge forward because at the end of the RAMSI mission if that's how it's going to be politically it is up to all of us Solomon Islanders, we must learn from the past, and we must move forward by factoring in what we have learned from the past.

AH: When you were talking about prison escapees and them being out in the community, with the system in Solomon Islands of you know the strong familial connections it must be that there are still some people in the police who are aware of the whereabouts of these people and are also not giving them up.

JM: I'm sure there might be some assumption on that because of the wantok system we had but this is where it's very hard to prove because if I know that some officers know who these people are, where they are if I have the evidence I will deal with them severely. This is why I'm talking about rising up to the challenge because when we rise above this wantok system, when we ensure that we are taking our oath to serve without fear and favour, that's what I'm talking about.