The Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (RSIPF) respects the right of all Solomon Islanders to protest in a peaceful and lawful fashion.

“RSIPF will support the right of citizens of Solomon Island to protest peacefully and within the bounds of the country’s laws but consideration must be given to public safety when organising marches on our roads especially in a populated city like Honiara,” says Assistant Commissioner of Police(ACP) National Capital and Crime Prevention, Simpson Pogeava.

ACP Pogeava explains: “When leaders of pressure groups are planning protests or marches through our capital city’s roads consideration must be given to the rest of the other citizens including the safety of other road users like our school children and the businesses. The last thing we want to do is make worse the already congested streets and slow down movement of traffic. This affects businesses.”

“We have also learnt from previous protests or even floats that though majority of our protestors adhered to the conditions that were attached to the approval of their requests, some opportunists hijack the situation turning the otherwise peaceful intention into violence damaging properties and causing injuries.”

“The RSIPF takes all these factors into consideration when it receives applications from groups to protest or march through the streets of Honiara. Police wants to suggest that leaders of these groups should consider holding static rallies at one particular venue and the officers of the RSIPF will be too willing to provide visibility patrols at those venues. We are open for dialogue when we receive applications for protests,” says ACP Pogeava.

He adds: “Our Crime Prevention Department is currently discussing with some stakeholders in Honiara so they can make available their venues should any group plans to stage public rallies to voice their opinions on any issue affecting the country.”

Requests for permission to stage any public protest must be received by the Provincial Secretary and the Provincial Police Commander 48 hours before the event takes place. In the case of Honiara, the request must be received by the Honiara City Council and the PPC Honiara City for further assessments before any protest could be allowed to take place.

“RSIPF wants to assist people to exercise their freedom of expression but at the same time we are also concerned for the safety of the rest of the population as well as respect for law and order. Police will do all it can within its powers to facilitate people’s freedom of expression,” says ACP Pogeava.

“I want to assure the good citizens of Solomon Islands especially in Honiara that the situation in the capital city is ‘business as usual’ but police will continue to monitor the situation through visibility patrols in the light of the decision by the Government on the issue of its diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and Republic of China (ROC).”

Source: RSIPF Media