Honiara : 1 September 2017
Letter to the Editors, Solomon Star and Island Sun newspapers.
Yesterday, Thursday, 31 August, I received news that there was a tense situation at Kazukuru Lipa point in the Western Province where a second attempt was then underway by Gallego Resources, a logging company, to land their equipment on Kazukuru customary land but there was strong resistance from disgruntled landowners.
The report went on to claim the loggers had called on the police from Munda to prevent the resistance and allow the logging equipment to be unloaded.
A follow-up report claimed that police, numbering in the twenties with riot gear, were deployed from Noro, Gizo and Munda and allegedly allowed the loggers to unload their equipment against the wishes of the angry landowners.
I am reliably informed that the situation on the ground remains intense and potentially troublesome as I pen this note.
Policing incidents involving landowners and logging companies needs careful handling and special attention must be taken to ensure the police are impartial and acting within the law for fear of being seen as favouring one side or the other or acting themselves unlawfully.
My informant claims there is an air of suspicion in this reported incident since the police responded to a call from the loggers and not from the landowners who remain angry that logging equipment has been landed on their customary land, allegedly, without lawful permission.
While there is such a suspicion, it might be useful if the police media office could respond to the allegations and also say what action is taken to monitor a likely flare-up situation at Kazukuru.