The Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (RSIPF) denies allegations in the Papua New Guinea media that the Police Response Team (PRT) officers harrassed Bouganvillians who came inside the Solomon Islands side of the common border with Papua New Guinea.
In responding to the allegations Deputy Commissioner National Security and Operation Support, Ian Vaevaso says, “The report which appeared in PNG’s Post Courier newspaper 19 Feburay 2021 did not specify any date of the alleged incidents.”
Deputy Commissioner Vaevaso explains, “On 1 December 2020, six officers from the PRT and two Provincial Response Unit operators conducted a mobile patrol along the SI/PNG border at Oema island in Solomon Islands side of the common border where Bougainvillians usually come across to fish.”
“On arrival at Oema island, officers sighted a white ray boat powered by a 15 hp Yamaha engine with two men from Bouganville on board. The two men were verbally warned for illegal border crossing and told to return to the PNG side of the common border.”
“While our officers were still talking to the two men to leave our side of the border, two other white ray boats came towards them from Balaka island in SI side of the border at the northern side of Oema . There were two men in each of the two boats. The men in the boats were screaming, shouting, swearing and waving their hands with knives, axe and sticks.”
DC Vaevaso continues, “Our officers tried several times to calm down the aggressive men to leave our side of the common border but they do not want to listen. The men claimed they had the right by birth to fish and do whatever they want in the islands. One of the aggressive men told our officers that he owns a gun that he will use it to kill the officers.”
“While our PRT officers and the Bouganvillians were still arguing, two boats circled around them and shouted aggressively to officers stating that they will go and bring their guns from the other boat at Nunugari island and shoot all our officers. They also shouted abusive words at our officers,” says DC Vaevaso
A back up team of PRT officers at Kulitanai base arrived at the scene and assisted officers to escort the boats back to the other side of the red line. Officers continued to monitor the boats until they were far from the red line on the PNG side of the common border.
“I call on our good people of Bougainville to respect the State of Public Emergency that the Government has in place declaring the Solomoni Islands western border as an emergency zone to prevent the coronavirus COVID 19 from coming into our communities through the western border region. The State of Public Emergency supercedes any traditional crossing arrangements that have existed previously. These are not normal times. RSIPF officers are in the western border region to ensure the State of Public Emergency regulations are respected by our own citizens and those from the PNG side of the common border including Bougainville. Please respect our officers as they are there to monitor any illegal entry into our side of the common border.”