Monday, 16 June 2008 12:51 PM

Sogavare Calls for Review of Facilitation Act

The National Parliamentary Opposition Group has renewed its call on the Government to immediately facilitate the review of the legal framework governing the operation of the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands as approved by Parliament last year.

The renewed call was made in light of the fatal road accident, resulting in the death of a probationary nurse, by a member of the RAMSI police contingent.

Leader of the Opposition Group Manasseh Sogavare said it came to the attention of the Opposition Group that a PPF officer who caused the death was drunk and unfit to drive.

Mr Sogavare says to add insult to the death, the PPF officer is protected from any prosecution in Solomon Islands for breaking the laws of the country and furthermore there is no assurance that the officer will face justice in his own country.

He says causing death by reckless driving is punishable by a mandatory custodial sentence in Solomon Islands but unfortunately this will not be the case with this officer as he is immune under section 17 of the Facilitation of the International Assistance Act of 2003.

Mr Sogavare says Solomon Islands cannot allow officers of the visiting contingent to continue to be careless about the way they conduct themselves in the country.

He says if they are in the country to show Solomon Islanders to behave lawfully, then they should lead by example.

Meanwhile, RAMSI Special Coordinator, Tim George has personally conveyed to the Prime Minister, Derek Sikua, a heartfelt apology for the tragic death of a Solomon Islands woman in a fatal accident involving a RAMSI vehicle driven by a Samoan police officer in Honiara on Friday.

The Special Coordinator made the apology when he and the Commander of the Participating Police Force, Denis McDermott when they met with the Prime Minister and senior ministers on Saturday.

In a letter to the Prime Minister, Mr George said that after nearly five years of RAMSI working in partnership with the government and people of Solomon Islands all members of the mission were acutely aware of the very real loss the young woman's death represented to her family, community and indeed to her nation.

The body of the late Ms Hilda Hilabae was today flown by a RAMSI helicopter to her home village Talakali in Langa Langa. The body of the Late Hilda Hilabae was accompanied by her parents and other close family members.

Commander McDermott, who accompanied the family to the helicopter, has also provided transportation and other support for other mourners to travel to Langa Langa for the burial which will take place on today.

Mr McDermott repeated his assurance that the PPF would cooperate fully with the investigation being carried out by the Solomon Islands Police Force.