Australia provides guns to Solomon Islands police

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The Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (RSIPF) today took delivery of 60 riffles to add to its armoury as the force with the support of Australia has now upped its capability.

The 60 Daniel’s Defense MKN were amongst the weapons delivered to the RSIPF under the Australian Federal Police (AFP) Policing Partnership Programme (RAPPP) at Rove headquarters. They also included vehicles.

RSIPF officers who will operate the weapons were awarded certificates in the presence of the Prime Minister, Manasseh Sogavare.

Speaking today Prime Minister Sogavare said: “What we have witnessed today was not the outcome of an overnight decision but its result of months of planning and discussion by two respective governments. We are all aware of the lack of security capabilities standards and it is also this position that discussions we made to see how best we are able to reinforce these gaps.”

He added: “It’s a long and strategic discussions but I am happy to announce that we are here today to witness the fruit of these discussions.”

He said his government places security as a priority amongst its policies. “We must improve and enhance the capability of the RSIPF. What we have today is the realisation of the government policy.”

Sogavare said the use of the elevated arms is not to be taken for granted since a lot of training and preparedness has gone into the police force.

“I am emphasising the need for an equipped police force is paramount not only for security but also for social economic growth. Law and order is an enabler to development and it is important as a sovereign state we are able to better protect ourselves, deliver on our security mandates and confront threat when it comes.”

He continued: “The answer as to why we focus so much on security is simple. It is because of the mere fact that our capacity is limited. And there is an overall need for its enhancement. Investor confidence is important but we cannot have it without a robust security.”

Sogavare also agreed that: “We do not have any enemy within or external- nor hold any animosity against anyone, however, it is the sworn duty of the government of the day to ensure the protection of liberty, life-wellbeing and property of citizens and any persons in Solomon Islands.”

He added the the government intends to provide this safe and secure environment so that all individuals can live in freedom without fear of intimidation.

“Furthermore it is the wish of this government that we should bring back trust and respect that our police need and the provisions of these capabilities and the required training hereafter are the right step in that direction,” said the prime minister.

He also said he was aware a lot of efforts have gone into the elevated arms programme for the police force including that it is kept safe and secure from ending up in the wrong hands.

“I trust that the police force is aware of this responsibility and will ensure that we are ready to move forward as a nation capable of looking after itself and its own security affairs in the future.”

It is a privilege for AFP to stand shoulder to shoulder with RSIPF as we have done for many years.

Speaking on behalf of the AFP, Acting Deputy Commissioner Lesa Gale who flew in for the ceremony said the partnership programme (AFP/RSIPF) reinforces their commitment to meet the needs of Solomon Islands and the RSIPF adding that today’s ceremony and the gifting of the capability is an example of this commitment.

On the guns, she said they are part of continuous AFP support to RSIPF’s re-armament programme, which started in 2013.

She said the rifles are the latest technology used by AFP and other police forces across the world and show that the RSIPF has cutting edge capability in special response operations to counter criminal threat and maintain peace and stability.

Australia says it will issue further statements detailing the cost of the capabilities it delivered to RSIPF today.

Reacting to Australia’s assistance, Solomon Islands journalist Dorothy Wickham said “Australia and China must not turn my country into a gun state again, we have been down this road before. Only 1,700 officers for the whole country and you arm them! Increase community policing not arm them …or we will be all sorry in the near future,” Wickham said on twitter.

SOURCE: SBM ONLINE/PACNEWS