Weapons' destruction move queried - Solomon Star News

Weapons' destruction move queried

16 May 2014

Police officers within the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (RSIPF) are questioning the process in which RAMSI PPF has taken an attempt without the police executives' knowledge to destroy RSIPF weapons.

The corporate and logistics officers were shocked when a weapons destruction certificate was brought to their attention by a PPF officer on the 14th of last month urging the director to sign.

This had brought about confusion to the department raising questions why PPF has to do this without the executive knowledge and directives.

The destruction certificate was meant to destroy eight sophisticated short guns procured by RSIPF last year in July.

The office of the commissioner and the upper ranks within the force was said to be notified of this move which raised suspicions as to why PPF has to do this.

The destruction certificate however was not signed and the news about the issue went as far as reaching the minister of police, it was revealed.

"We do not want to sign the destruction certificate because this has caught us by surprise. In such circumstance, such directives should have come from the commissioner's office because these weapons belongs to the RSIPF and is the property of the state. Why PPF would tries to destroy a property belonging to a sovereign state owned by the RSIPF? It does not look right," a reliable source said.

This paper is aware that the eight short guns were purchased from the US and are more complicated than the weapons the RAMSI PPF had and used to train the Police Response Team(PRT).

Although the real motive behind the idea of destruction of weapons was not known, it has raised serious questions within the RSIPF by which officers questions the role of PPF.

When this paper asked the acting commissioner of police if the directive for the destruction of weapons comes from her office,Ms Juanita Matanga said her direction that all these weapons will not be used until the time is right when special unit within the RSIPF is fully trained, well disciplined and public trust and confidence is restored with proper community consultation on the issue of rearmament.

Ms Matanga said the latest weapons bought are only to be accessed if officers are well trained, disciplined and that necessary infrastructures are in place.
The acting police boss added that the issue with the short guns was only to dismantle to avoid life firing but will not be destroyed. Adding they will only be used for training purpose.

But the comments of the acting commissioner confuses officers within RSIPF since she too was shocked to hear about the news that PPF wants to destroy the weapons.

The acting commissioner has to call in her staff responsible and asked them about what happened.

"Anything like destruction of weapons should have come from her office and it is surprising she did not know anything about the plan to destroy or modify the weapons at the first place. It seems that she only knew of the issue when officers responsible alerted her," a reliable source said.

When the news of the weapons destruction reached the minister, he summoned the commissioner about the issue last Wednesday after which on Thursday she has to call an urgent meeting with her staff.

This week too the commissioner called those at the logistics office to ask them about what is happening.

"The actions of the commissioner contradicts her statements about the plan of her office to dismantle or destroy the short guns. It seems that she only knew of the issue when the RSIPF raised it with her. And it seems that PPF is advising her of what to say to the media if that is the case," the source said.

When the PPF Commander was asked as to why PPF wants to destroy the eight short guns, Mr Greg Harrigan said PPF has no intention to destroy the weapons but to only dismantle the weapons to avoid live firing and to be used only for training purposes.

Again who has given them that authority to do so is in question since the office of the commissioner is also not aware of the plan.

But Mr Harrigan said it was the RSIPF that sought to fill out the destruction certificate that said they(RSIPF) want to destroy some weapons used for deployment gas and less lethal rounds.

Mr Harrigan said since there is no other form within the ministry of police for modification of any weapons therefore the destruction form is used instead but not to destroy the weapons, but only to modify since they currently have their personals who can dismantle arms in the country.

"There is no other form to modify a weapon that the RSIPF has so what they want to do was we have armers in the country so they want to make the weapons inert or take the firing pins out of them so that they...can be used for trainings," Mr Harrigan said.

Asked why the form does not come from the commissioners office,Mr Harrigan said he can't answer the question.

"...thats because at the lower level we work hand in hand. The commissioner and I don't know who is bringing the forms forward until it comes forward. So until we know that, we don't know about it. So we don't know what they are planning down there until they seek approval. So until we get the forms we don't know more new details and discussions in relation to handling some of those things. But where the weapons can't be used they gonna be used for training.

"And they have to be modified and someone made a decision which says we have an opportunity to modify these weapons to make them safe rather than leaving them in the storage. So now that we have armers here now why can't we get them modified," Mr Harrigan said.

When further asked why the form comes from a PPF and not a staff of the police commissioner. Mr Harrigan answered, "Because our people working hand in hand as advisors to the RSIPF so who fills the forms out is not the issue but who signs out on the form."

Mr Harrigan was further asked as to why this form was not carried out by the corporate and logistics advisor, he said he is not sure who took the form.

"You tell me who took the form and I might be able to ask the commissioner to answer because that is an administrative question.

"For me I don't understand where you are coming from but its just people working together, but the approver is the commissioner's office not something driven from anywhere else so as advisors.

"I think that you are trying to turn something as general business into something suspicious but it's not," Mr Harrigan added.

Meanwhile the motive of PPF to destruct the weapons has puzzled the RSIPF officers and urged relevant heads to act to stop this from happening since officers are concerned why a destruction certificate does not come with a report explaining why.

Again Mr Harrigan said he just can't answer the question, but admitted that the weapons were much more complex than the brand they have that were used for the PRT trainings.

"We can use the weapon but not that brand. We can't train how to use it as we would with the real gun.

"PPF don't have trainers to handle the new weapon We would have to do a training in how to train with those weapons. So we can train with just using the basic sense. But if you get down into a tactical operation, you would have to actually know the technicality of these weapons.

"We would have to get trained ourselves to train which is a bid more complex," Mr Harrigan explained.

However it was reported that this issue for the signing of the destruction certificate sparks off after what is believed to be an internal affair between PPF advisors regarding the procurement of the weapons.

Meanwhile the news has shocked the RSIPF officers who calls on the commissioner and the PPF to come clean about this issue as it seems there is hidden agenda regarding the issue which Mr Harrigan strongly refuted.

"These are sovereign properties of the state, so the PPF has no right to just try and destroy or dismantle without approval from the right authority following the right process," the source said.

By Daniel Namosuaia