2 September 2019
Humanitarian law knowledge important in border enforcement operations.
It was reported in today’s edition of the Solomon Times on Line publication that several officers from the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (RSIPF) in Western and Choiseul provinces and the Police Response Team (PRT) joined staff from National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) and other Government Agencies (OGA) agencies in Taro for the commencement of the 2019 Coastwatchers Exercise on 28 August 2019.
The ‘Exercise Coastwatchers’ is a bilateral Exercise between the Australian Defence Force (ADF), the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (RSIPF), and OGAs in Solomon Islands.
It is aimed at developing operational response capabilities to plan, conduct and support remote policing and security activities, enhance RSIPF and OGA abilities to safely, and effectively conduct outer islands law enforcement and security.
I presume, also, that aspects of humanitarian law would be covered during the exercise because the border area has been associated in the past with incursions and situations of armed conflict, making it essential for international humanitarian law’s rules and principles being known to those involved in border security.
In mid 1998, I was fortunate to get help from Geoffrey Balk, a human rights advocate, and the International Committee of the Red Cross, in providing humanitarian law training to the members of the then National Reconnaissance and Surveillance Unit (NRSF) engaged on border duties.
In the wider context of supporting policing duties and effectively gaining the confidence and hearts of the people, I would like once again to encourage the continuation of the RSIP’s community policing initiatives and for the members of the policed service, at all levels, to work in close cooperation with communities, community leaders and spokespersons of community forums.
In my term of office, I dropped the reference to police force and opted to stress a police service in partnership with the community.
When I addressed the members of the Truth and Reconciliation Inquiry in 2010, I told one Commissioner that in 1997-1999 my best tool in the “police armoury” was the Police Band,
The Commissioner didn’t get my meaning until I explained I was not referring to arms but the soft-power and good will the police band generated in support of the community policing out-reaches underway in those times.
I believe the same holds good today.