Honiara : 9 May 2017
Letters to the Editors, Island Sun and Solomon Star Newspapers.
The Prime Minister, the Hon Manasseh Sogavare, yesterday, launched the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (RSIPF) Limited Rearmament Programme, describing it as a new chapter in national history after the ethnic tension.
The PM said, “Your country asks that you pledge your honour to the people. They have cried enough and I ask you that you hold dear their plea. The plea is that weapons are not used ever again against the people they are intended to protect.”
I endorse the words of the Prime Minister for, I too, have cried enough over the terrible events that led to the RSIPF taking up arms against the very people they were sworn to protect.
In the first days of taking up my appointment as Commissioner of Police in 1997, I laid out clear policy orders for the Force, including clear instructions for the use of minimum force.
Those orders were written as Force Standing Orders and copies given to the then Minister of Police.
Since 1999 I have published those orders in the local media on several occasions, written them into my book, ‘Policing a Clash of Cultures', recorded them on LinkedIn, presented them to the Truth and Reconciliation Commissioner and provided separate copies to Prime Minister Sogavare.
When seen by the New Zealand Police Investigation Team that compiled the Bungana Report, this was recorded regarding my Standing Orders and my policy.
“All the documents seen in an endeavour to assimilate and understand aspects of the Royal Solomon Islands Police Policy, Practice and Procedures, clearly and succinctly confirms the Commissioner’s determination to ensure the minimum force when dealing with incidents – and the Commissioner has a particular vision and commitment to ensuring accountability in the police service, equally the Commissioner espouses the principles of fairness and equity of a commitment to human rights.”
When I returned to Honiara in 2010 to give testimony to the TRC, two former senior police officers visited me at the Mendana Hotel one afternoon to thank me for the orders I had written during my time as the Commissioner of Police, one saying, ‘Your orders enabled us to prove to RAMSI that we had written orders on the minimum use of firearms in all circumstances.” “Those orders saved us.”
As I read extracts of Mr. Devlin’s speech at yesterday’s ceremony, he could have been reading from my own script presented to the RSIPF in July 1997 and anyone having read my Standing Orders, or can access them now, will clearly see that proper procedures and practices for the RSIPF existed almost 20 years ago.
I therefore underscore the PM’s plea, once more, for the RSIPF to honour the trust placed upon them and to serve the people of the Solomon Islands, faithfully, diligently, honestly and professionally once again.
The security, sovereignty and dignity of the beloved nation is now in your hands and I look to you, from afar, not to fail in your duties, or fail he people you are pledged to serve.