CIVIL SOCIETY CALLS FOR POLICE PRESENCE AT V.R.C’S

Interim Chairperson of the JCSG & CC group, Barnabas Henson. Photo: SIBC

Interim Chairperson of the JCSG & CC group, Barnabas Henson. Photo: SIBC.

The Joint Civil Society Group and Concerned Citizens, JCSG and CC, has called for police presence at Voter Registration Centres both in Honiara and in the provinces.

The group’s Interim Chairman, Barnabas Henson made the call after witnessing a few problems at few VRC’s in Honiara.

He said officers at the Out-of-Constituency Voter Registration Centre in Honiara were threatened by frustrated people, who waited to long in lines to be registered.

Mr. Henson told SIBC News a VRC at Kobito in East Honiara was forced to close down recently, after disgruntled youths in the area stoned the centre due to disagreements.

“We understand that last weekend a registration centre at Kobito was forced to close down because of disagreements from youths within the area, who stoned the registration centre. And we also understand that the registration officers were trying to call the police emergency line on 999 and the response they got from the police was that the police won’t be able to reach Kobito. Now what they are saying to us is that they are incapable of protecting the law.”

The JCSG Interim Chairperson called on the Acting Police Commissioner to deploy officers to the VRC’s to ensure a safe environment both for the registration officers, the kits used as well as people being registered.

Meanwhile, Mr. Henson said police have a sworn duty to uphold the rule of law, adding that any notion of getting allowances before providing security at the VRC’s is irresponsible.

He says police will gain public confidence only if they enact what they are sworn to do.

“Police Force if you want the public to trust you and for you to gain public confidence, you have a sworn duty to protect the law and ensure that there is public safety and security around our areas in town and especially during this time when registration is underway. Am not sure about what’s happening in the provinces, but I’m sure that if this happens in Honiara, it could possibly happen elsewhere in the country. So this is one of our biggest concerns at the moment.”

He adds, it does not necessarily mean launching a police operation before people can experience police presence on the streets and the VRC’s, but they should ensure that security and safety is a priority, especially when the country is gearing towards elections later this year.

A visit by SIBC News to the Out-of-Constituency registration centre at the Art Gallery in Honiara, noticed private security firm officers manning the registration centres.

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