The Minister of Police, National Security and Correctional Services, Hon. Anthony Veke, says that the Solomon Islands will soon establish a patrol boat outpost in the Shortland Islands. This is with support from Australia.
The Minister said a ground-breaking ceremony should also take place soon for the establishment of the patrol boat outpost.
Veke told Solomon Times Online that cabinet has already approved the elevation of tactical capabilities of the Police Response Team (PRT) at the border. He said this is the way forward to address long standing issues at the border with Papua New Guinea (PNG) and to help build the capacity of PRT officers at the border.
When asked about the recent border skirmish by the PRT with Bougainvillean fishermen Veke said they are very aware of such incidents.
Veke told Solomon Times Online it is just unfortunate the incident happened. He said the frontliners at the border often come across such incidents.
“I must say that our PRT boys are very professional. They try to ensure that there is always peace. In terms of policy, border security is a priority for the Ministry. The government and ministry are working very hard to ensure there are infrastructures in place to ensure the enforcement of laws and that the sovereignty of Solomon Islands remains”, Veke said.
He said the PRT must be commended for a job well done at the border and people should not see them as weak when their drone was captured.
“I want to assure the people that it is not a show of weakness on our PRT. PRT officers are dedicated to their job to ensure the laws are being kept and that Solomon Islands is protected”.
Veke said in addition, they have noticed that Solomon Islanders in the western part of the country are respectful of the laws in place under the SOPE unlike those from Bougainville.
Meanwhile Bougainville Police Chief, Francis Tokura told Solomon Times Online he has not received any reports from his officers in Buin yet of the incident.
Tokura said police officers from Buin are expected to carry out patrols at the Solomon Islands PNG Border.
“But it is also challenging for us to man the border. We do not have good boats. Our officers only patrol the border in banana boats. It is very challenging for us when we do not have the capacity and resources to patrol the border”, Tokura says.
Mr. Tokura says he is very sorry to hear about the incident that occurred at the border and he will follow up with his officers in Buin of the incident.
“I have made an appeal to my people of Bougainville not to cross over to the Solomon border because of the circumstances now. Because if they are caught there, they will be dealt with by the sovereign laws of Solomon Islands”, Tokura said.
Deputy Police Commissioner, Ian Vaevaso also made an appeal to the people of Bougainville to be respectful of the laws of Solomon Islands.
“The State of Public Emergency supersedes whatever agreement both island groups have of the traditional fishing grounds”, Vaevaso said.