REARMING LATA IS COMMISSIONER’s DECISION: SIKUA

The RSIPF Patrol boat birthing at the Aola Base. Photo credit: SIBC.

The RSIPF Patrol boat birthing at the Aola Base. Photo credit: SIBC.

Rearming the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force Vessels Lata and Auki remains an operational decision to be made by the Police Commissioner.

Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Police, National Security and Correctional Services, Edmond Sikua made the clarification.

He told the workshop participants, currently there are no plans to rearm the police vessels.

“At this stage we are not planning to rearm the patrol boats, we all know the issues surrounding the patrol boats, not that police will use it again in the same way, but people’s thinking still remains, it will be there for a couple of generations so we do not want to flare up any thinking around that area. We know that patrol boats need arms, however, it is an operational process that when patrol boats go, the Commissioner can determine whether to put armed personnel on the boat or not, so the Commissioner will decide on that kind of operation.”

Meanwhile, the Permanent Secretary said security at the country’s ports will be considered in the future.

“On Ports security and all that kind of thing, certainly, probably in the future we will be looking at security of ports, but that is something that my Ministry and the Ports Authority board need to look at and that’s one of our national security strategy to look at how do we secure our entries.”

Meanwhile, the Royal Solomon Islands Police Vessel, Auki, has been deployed to the Shortland islands on policing duties.

Police Commissioner Frank Prendergast confirms the deployment.

Commissioner Prendergast says the officers deployed will engage with communities in the Shortland islands as they patrol the border area.

“Community engagement, intelligence collection and completing some investigations that remains from other times, so they’ll be on the ground a couple of weeks and I am sure that they’ll receive that necessary support and cooperation from the people in the border area, so they are currently at Kulitanai and will be working in and around the Shortland islands for the next couple of weeks.”

Meanwhile, the Police Commissioner explains, the Shortland islands is an area of prime security concern due to its proximity to the Bougainville border.

“The main issues we are dealing with at the moment are in the Shortlands because of the proximity of the Bougainvillian border, but clearly as we are working through the strategic issues around border security, we need to be conscious of all the border areas. One of the other things we’re currently in negotiations with the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary is an MOU for mutual cooperation which will include cooperation around the border.”

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