THE Parliamentary House Committee (PHC) has rejected the Police Commissioner’s request for local and foreign-armed police to guard in and around the Parliament precinct.
Chairman of the Parliamentary House Committee Hon Rick Houenipwela said the Police Commissioner’s request was ill informed, ill advised and based on poor intelligence.
Hon. Houenipwela said last week the Commissioner of Police wrote to the Speaker of Parliament requesting RSIPF and the Solomon Islands International Assistance Force to provide security around Parliament House during the meeting of Parliament starting on Monday 28 March 2022.
He said the Police Commissioner also advised that local and foreign police would be armed with firearms.
“The Speaker referred the request to my committee, and advised that he would go along with the decision of my committee. My committee deliberated on it last week, which we asked the Commissioner for a full briefing by the police to enable the Committee to decide on their request,” Hon Houenipwela explained.
The Parliamentary House Chairman said questions raised with the police include:
- Police assessment of the level of security threat to MPs, the Prime Minister, Ministers or Parliament staff;
- Who are the Solomon International Assistance Force?
- Why does RSIPF need the support of the Solomon International Assistance Force?And to describe what sort of firearms police will be using while on guard, and why they have to carry such firearms?
Hon. Houenipwela said the Committee was disappointed because the Police Commissioner himself did not attend the briefing to answer these questions but only sent police representatives on his behalf.
“There were important matters that the Police Commissioner should be present to answer but it was unacceptable that he opted not to attend,” he said.
However, Hon Houenipwela said from the response from police during the briefing, the committee has concluded that:
- Police intelligence assessment itself is that the level of security risk is low and there is no threat on the Prime Minister, any minister, any MP or staff of Parliament.
- The Police representatives were unclear in their answer to the question on the Solomon International Assistance Force. However, the Committee assumed this force would include the foreign forces currently in the country.
- As to why RSIPF need this international force to guard Parliament, they said they have to be fully prepared for all situations;
- On types of firearms, police said these would include both non-lethal and lethal weapons.
“Therefore, the House Committee decided that based on police briefing and advice, the level of threat does not warrant armed police guards in and around the Parliament precinct and the Police Commissioner’s request was ill-informed, ill-advised and based on poor intelligence,” he said.
“The Committee has since relayed its decision to the Speaker” he said.
Hon. Houenipwela also said that under the Rules of Admission to the Parliament, the admission of law enforcement officers and carrying of firearms is a matter subject to conditions agreed under a Memorandum of Understanding between the Commissioner of RSIPF and the Speaker of National Parliament.
However, he said should the Police Commissioner remain doubtful about their own assessment, the police is duty-bound to ensure public security - outside Parliament precinct.