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Thursday, August 30, 2007

RAMSI does not withhold information on weapons in the community: Tim George

by Jeremy Miller

RAMSI Special Coordinator, Tim George, today said claims that RAMSI was withholding information on the presence of weapons in the community were simply not true.

Speaking in response to comments made by the Prime Minister in Parliament on Tuesday, Mr George said that neither he nor his two predecessors as Special Coordinator had ever said that all weapons had been recovered.

“RAMSI has been and always will be completely open about the security situation in Solomon Islands,” Mr George. “We have no reason to withhold such information. In fact it would be counterproductive to do so.”

Solomon Islands and RAMSI have a very good story to tell on disarmament as almost 4000 weapons have been surrendered Mr George said.

“However, no one in RAMSI is interested in luring Solomon Islanders ‘into a false sense of security,’ as the Prime Minister appeared to suggest to Parliament on Tuesday.”

While the incidence of gun-related crimes is now quite rare in Solomon Islands, Mr George said RAMSI was acutely aware of the risks that still remain.

“A tragic reminder of just how real these risks are came in 2004 when shots were fired at two of our Pacific Island contingent members and a short time later, a young Australian police officer, Adam Dunning, was shot dead.”

To this day, these members of the Regional Assistance Mission remain the only victims of serious gun-related crimes to have occurred since RAMSI’s arrival four years ago.

Mr George also expressed surprise at the Prime Minister’s assertion that RAMSI was the primary enforcer of law and order in Solomon Islands.

“The focus of RAMSI’s Participating Police Force (PPF) has changed since RAMSI’s arrival and for several years now the PPF’s efforts have concentrated on working in partnership to strengthen and rebuild the Solomon Islands Police Force. Again, good progress has been made in this area, but the Government and RAMSI still have a lot more work to do to ensure the Solomon Islands remains a peaceful nation,” he said.

Any information that RAMSI receives on the possible presence of firearms in the community is automatically shared with the Solomon Islands Police Force as part of this partnership Mr George said.

“Like all other areas of the mission, RAMSI continues to work in partnership with the Solomon Islands government and people on the issue of disarmament.”

Mr George urged anyone who had information about the possible presence of weapons in the community to come forward and provide that information to the police.

“It is only by working together that we can hope to make Solomon Islands a safer place for everyone.”

Source: RAMSI

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