These reports on the progress of the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands were first published in the Solomon Star - the national daily newspaper of the Solomon Islands.
Because of the author's position as official photographer to the Australian Federal Police, they naturally have an AFP focus.
all on track after a week
Brian Hartigan in Honiara
the streets of Honiara are relatively free of drunken mobs, illegal trading
stalls have moved out of town and police patrols can be seen regularly
throughout the city. Reports of stolen cars returned to their rightful
owners in the dead of night came early.
A new atmosphere
of ease seems to have fallen over the city as the general public feels
it is safe enough resume normal activities and to move freely about town.
Police Force's warm welcome at Henderson International Airport on Wednesday
24 July began what was to be a very busy and successful week for the Regional
Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands. Two hours after landing, the
first joint Royal Solomon Islands Police and Participating Police Force
foot patrols through the streets of Honiara were sent out.
24 hours later, the first of many surrendered guns were handed to Commander
of the Participating Police Force Ben McDevitt at a meeting with the National
Peace Council. The weapons were publicly destroyed outside NPC headquarters
on Saturday and, fittingly, it was NPC Chairman Paul Tovuoa who cut the
Mr McDevitt was sworn in as the Deputy Commissioner of the Royal Solomon
Islands Police. Speaking after his swearing in ceremony at the residence
of Governor General Sir Father John Ini Lapli, Mr McDevitt outlined the
responsibilities given to him by Commissioner Bill Morrell - first, to
rid the Solomon Islands of illegal guns, second, to resolve the situation
on the Weathercoast and, third, to review professional standards within
to professional standards he said that the majority of RSIP, who were
dedicated and committed officers, were being let down by a few who he
branded "drunkards, thieves and extortionists" and assured all
that he would deal swiftly with officers who acted illegally.
a memo issued by Commissioner Morrell on Friday, Monday also saw 38 weapons,
illegally held by police, handed in to Rove armoury under an amnesty that
finished at 10pm. After this time, according to the memo, any police officer
in the Honiara district found in possession of firearms without the written
permission of the Commissioner would be sacked from the force and criminally
Special Coordinator Nick Warner and Mr McDevitt traveled to Auki in Malaita
Province to meet community leaders and others to make arrangements for
handing in weapons in the area. After the meeting Mr McDevitt said he
was very hopeful that by August 15 all guns from Malaita would be in Auki
where they would be publicly destroyed.
On the same
day as the meeting in Malaita, another 30 guns were handed over to the
Participating Police Force at the headquarters of the National Peace Council
in Honiara. This latest haul brings the total number of guns surrendered
so far to about 100, which is a very encouraging sign for the future given
that the gun amnesty had not been announced until Thursday. The gun amnesty
commenced at midnight on 31 July and will finish at midnight on 21 August.
and equipment were unloaded from a container ship at the Honiara docks
in the latter part of the week, RAMSI and the Participating Police Force
look forward to more hard work, professional challenges and, above all,
to helping all the people of the Solomon Islands to build a better, safer
future for themselves and their children.
said he was extremely happy with the reception he and all his people had
received from the community here in Honiara and in the other centers he
had traveled to since arriving.
atmosphere of friendship and warmth we feel when we meet people in the
streets is overwhelming," he said.
look forward to getting out to other provinces and centers and we encourage
everyone throughout the Solomon Islands to allow us to be their friends.
Come over and say hallo."