Friday, 31 August 2007 9:19 AM

RAMSI Not Withholding Information on Guns: George

Allegations that RAMSI was withholding information on the presence of weapons in the community were "simply not true".

RAMSI Special Coordinator, Tim George in a statement, in response to claims made by Prime Minister in Parliament on Tuesday, said RAMSI has "no reason to withhold such information".

"RAMSI has been and always will be completely open about the security situation in Solomon Islands," Mr. George said, adding that to withhold such information "... would be counterproductive to do so."

Mr. George made clear in the statement that neither he, nor his two predecessors as Special Coordinator had ever said that all weapons had been recovered. He said surrendering of almost 4000 weapons in the disarmament period is a "very good story to tell" for Solomon Islands and RAMSI.

Mr. George said RAMSI is, however, not interested in luring Solomon Islanders 'into a false sense of security', "... as the Prime Minister appears to have suggested to Parliament ..." The RAMSI Special Coordinator said that whilst the incidence of gun-related crimes is now quite rare in Solomon Islands, 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." 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 highlights in the statement.

"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.

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