AUSTRALIA’S POST RAMSI PACKAGE STILL IN DESIGN STAGE

Australian High Commissioner to Solomon Islands Andrew Byrne. Photo: Courtesy of Sydney Morning Herald.

Australian High Commissioner to Solomon Islands Andrew Byrne. Photo: Courtesy of Sydney Morning Herald.

Australia’s bilateral package to Solomon Islands after the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI) leaves next June is in its design stage.

As part of RAMSI, Australia has been working closely with the Solomon Islands Government in terms of policing and security as well as strengthening the country’s justice and governance sectors to deliver services to Solomon Islanders.

Speaking at a media briefing yesterday, Australian High Commissioner Andrew Byrne said in close consultation with the Solomon Islands Government, they have decided to offer Solomon Islands assistance, one of which is a police advisory program post RAMSI.

“The first of those is a bilateral police capacity-building program. That is a program that involves Australian police officers living and working in Solomon Islands, working in an advisory and mentoring capacity with RSIPF officers, so no operational or policing role, but working alongside their RSIPF police providing advice, support, mentoring, training and so on. That program is still in the early stages of being designed, we’re not quite sure exactly what it will look like yet, but as I’ve said, it will be about mentoring and training support, not about an operational policing role.”

Meanwhile, High Commissioner Byrne says an enabling agreement to formally request Australia’s operational support in an emergency is being worked at.

“Some kind of mechanism that enables Solomon Islands to formally request Australian support in the event of an emergency, so as I’ve said at first that police capacity building mission won’t have any operational role, but if in the future there’s some kind of crisis or emergency in Solomon Islands, whether it’s some civil unrest or you know, natural disaster or some kind of emergency that’s beyond the capacity of the RSIPF to manage by itself, we want to have a mechanism, some kind of agreement understanding whereby Solomon Islands can formally request Australia’s operational support.”

SIBC News understands, discussions on the bilateral arrangement between Australia and Solomon Islands is in the making.

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