Solomons' police being readied for UN deployment
Solomon Islands is set to provide police staff as United Nations peace-keepers from the beginning of next year.
The Solomon Islands police could be sent on their first peace-keeping duties with the United Nations early next year.
The UN is increasingly turning to the Melanesian countries to help maintain peace around the world, with police from Vanuatu and police and soldiers from Fiji involved, while Papua New Guinea is also preparing personnel.
And by early next year Solomons' officers expect to be involved.
The Royal Solomon Islands Police Force commander, Frank Prendergast told Don Wiseman capacity building since the years of civil unrest has got his staff to a stage where they are ready to undertake peace keeping work if required.
FRANK PRENDERGAST: It's been Solomon Island government policy for quite some time that the RSIPF take its place amongst police forces contributing peacekeepers to the UN. Clearly there have been issues with the police force in the Solomon Islands going back a number of years but it's fair to say that the police force of today in the Solomon Islands is not the same force that experienced the issues during the tensions here. There has been a very, very significant capacity development operation running in the Solomon Islands over the last 10 years from the countries involved in the Pacific Islands Forum. Australia, New Zealand and all the other Pacific island nations. That capacity development has led to the situation now where we believe that the RSIPF is ready to provide peacekeepers to the UN if required. We have a process going on at the moment where we're identifying a number of officers going through pre-deployment training by the Australian Federal Police and that will mean that those officers are ready to deploy to UN missions if and when the Solomon Islands government agrees with the UN about those deployments. It's a fairly small arrangement at the moment. We are working towards getting about six officers trained for deployment and once that happens there are obviously negotiations to be done between the Solomon Islands government and the UN about if and when those officers might deploy and where to.
DON WISEMAN: What sort of things do they need to learn that are different from what they do normally?
FP: The basic skill set is a policing skill set so there is a minimum requirement set by the UN about policing experience. Above and beyond that the UN do have particular requirements of officers to be deployed. That involves everything from being able to drive four-wheel drives, first aid training, through to understanding the particular legislation and processes that the UN adopt in their missions. Increased human rights training, all this sort of stuff that you'd think an officer would need to have before deploying to the UN. It's pretty much a set curriculum and then the AFP clearly add to that to give the officers the skills to survive in some pretty hostile environments at times.
DW: Is it the sort of thing that staff are looking forward to?
FP: Absolutely. Obviously giving everyone the opportunity to apply for these deployments. There's been a lot of people apply and we have been working our way through a process where we end up with some really good officers available and trained. It has been a well received initiative by members inside the RSIPF. I think it's good for the RSIPF in terms of morale and confidence that we are in this position now. It will be good for the RSIPF in a way to give back. It has been a recipient of a lot of assistance in difficult times and it will be good if we are able to give back that sort of assistance to other countries that need it.
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