The Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (RSIPF) wishes to clarify its position on the issue of processions, marches and public assemblies.

“The RSIPF wishes to make a clarification following recent comments in social media alleging police are trying to curtail peoples’ democratic right to public expression. The RSIPF supports democracy and we acknowledge peoples’ intention to hold protests or marches, but we remind everyone that the law governing processions and public assemblies must be adhered to,” Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) National Capital and Crime Prevention, Simpson Pogeava explains.

ACP Pogeava adds: “We want members of the public to work with your police to ensure that public assemblies are done in a way that is safe and does not present a risk to the safety of the community generally.”

The Processions and Public Assemblies Act stipulates that anyone who intends to hold a procession or public assembly must give written notice of their intention to the provincial secretary or in the case of the Honiara City Council, the Clerk to the City Council and the Provincial Police Commander 14 days prior to the date of the application. The application must reach the appropriate authorities not less than 48 hours before the intended time of the procession. The Act also gives police the authority to cancel a permit for a procession or assembly if there is a risk to public peace.

“The RSIPF is willing to meet with groups who intend to conduct a procession or public assembly to discuss their plans and ensure that these requirements are fully understood and met before an application is submitted. As we explained recently, the RSIPF suggests that groups intending to stage processions should instead stage rallies at static venues instead of marching along the streets. This would allow the RSIPF to provide security at the venue and avoid security risks and traffic problems for the wider city.”

“With the large population and heavy traffic congestion already in Honiara, the RSIPF must consider the issues of public safety first and foremost. For example, a proposed procession or march could affect the movement of emergency services such as ambulances, fire and rescue vehicles and police vehicles, should any emergency arise during the time of the procession. The situation in the provincial centres is different given the smaller population and the traffic is not as heavy as in Honiara,” says ACP Pogeava.

He says, “The RSIPF is a neutral organisation and does not favour any particular side in the political spectrum. We exist to ensure that law and order and public safety is maintained throughout Solomon Islands. We also learned lessons from what can go wrong with public processions during the recent National General Election campaign, when large convoys and float parades brought Honiara to a gridlocked standstill. We were flooded with public complaints about those incidents. We ask the public to understand that even the best intentioned public processions can turn out to be major risks to our city and our community.”

Source: RSIPF Media