RAMSI Coodinator says RAMSI immunity in-line with many donor organisation arrangements as it helps to get the job done
The immunities granted to RAMSI do not give personnel the authority to break the law, RAMSI Special Coordinator, Tim George told regional journalists yesterday.
Speaking at a lunch for participants of the Pacific Islands News Association, Mr George defended RAMSI’s immunities saying they were not intended to benefit individuals. But were only there to ensure that members of the mission could do the work they came to Solomon Islands to do.
“Immunities are a normal part of the arrangements for many donor organisations operating in Solomon Islands, Mr George said.
“Many international donor organisations here to help the Solomons such as UNDP have been granted immunities to enable them to do their job,” Mr George said.
“The purpose of immunities is to ensure the effective performance of the functions of RAMSI.”
If immunities were not in place, RAMSI’s activities could be undermined and delayed.
Mr George said that the threat of legal claims could be used to intimidate or influence RAMSI personnel.
“Immunities are therefore important in ensuring RAMSI personnel can undertake their work efficiently and effectively, in an independent and objective manner and that the mission’s time and resources are not easily diverted from the task it has come to do.”
Family members or dependants of RAMSI personnel do not enjoy any immunity under the act.
“The immunities and privileges provisions for RAMSI personnel in Solomon Islands are in line with the provisions of immunity regularly enjoyed in Solomon Islands by donor organisations such as UNDP and other multinational agencies, Mr George said.
Most importantly, it needs to be remembered that the immunity provisions are subject to the Solomon Islands Constitution, Mr George said.
“The Facilitation of International Assistance Act does not provide immunity in respect of any actions that might infringe the constitution.”
RAMSI also puts a lot of effort and energy into making sure members of the mission respect Solomon Islands culture, institutions, laws, personnel and protocols he said.
All RAMSI personnel are subject to rigorous codes of conduct and Commanders Orders.
“Because of all this scrutiny, RAMSI personnel are held to a significantly higher level of conduct than would be the case back in their home countries,” Mr George said.