22 Jun 2016

RAMSI hopes for green light on police rearmament

9:00 am on 22 June 2016

The Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands says it is hoping to get the green light to rearm the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force this year.

In June next year the Australian and New Zealand-led regional security mission will wrap up more than 14 years of helping to rebuild the country after several years of ethnic conflict.

RAMSI's Special Coordinator Quinton Devlin said a final task was to rearm specialist police units and the mission was just waiting for the go ahead from the Solomons government.

"These specialist units are those that provide protection to dignitaries," he said.

"Those that provide safety and security at the airport and also the police response team which looks after public order incidents. And we expect, I expect that this year we will see the Solomon Islands government deciding to rearm these specialist police units."

The Special Coordinator to the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI) Quinton Devlin.

The Special Coordinator to the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI) Quinton Devlin. Photo: RNZI / Koroi Hawkins

Mr Devlin said training, firearm selection and the construction of a new armoury is being carried out at the moment.

RAMSI's nationwide consultations found that most Solomon Islanders agreed to rearming the police force but there were reservations after their experience during the ethnic conflict of the late nineties and early 2000's.

Police paramilitary weapons were used by militia on both sides of the conflict in their fighting but also to intimidate, harass, rob and murder people.

Currently the police rely solely on Australia and New Zealand to provide armed services for the force's Riot Squad, policing the international airport, close personal protection services and taking care of the odd rogue crocodile.

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