The Royal Solomon Islands Police Force Provincial Police Commander (PPC) Honiara City, Chief Superintendent Stanley Riolo denies allegations levelled against officers of his City Response Unit (CRU) by some members of the public in the Kukum area of East Honiara about the officers’ actions during the curfew hours early Sunday morning.
PPC Riolo says, “Between 3 to 4am on the morning of Sunday 12 April 2020, CRU officers were on mobile patrol around the Kukum area during the curfew hours.”
“Officers sighted suspicious movement around that area so they stopped to observe. They saw people escaped from the scene so the officers became suspicious that something illegal was going on. So the officers went to check and found a woman sitting at her betel market stall fully awake at that time of the night. They asked her and she admitted she has been selling betel nut during that night.”
PPC Riolo adds: “The CRU officers confiscated the rest of her betel nut and strongly warned her to stop she was selling during the curfew hours. Before the officers left, the woman informed CRU officers that to be fair they needed to also confiscate all her neighbour’s market because they were all involved in betel nut marketing during that curfew night. Officers knew that if they left others behind, the market vendors will continue to do their marketing which will encourage people to move around and violate curfew order.”
“The CRU officers then also searched other market stalls and confiscated their betel nuts. They were selling betel nuts at the market stalls not from a dwelling house.”
PPC Riolo explains: “The allegation of the assault of a civilian is not true. That person was drunk with others and in possession of marijuana. He resisted police so they used force to arrest him. Due to a lot of reports that needed to be attended to at that particular time, the officers verbally warned him and released him.”
“That night was not a normal night. A curfew was on. It was frustrating to see people disobeying the law of this country. Being the front line law enforcers, it is our duty to make sure orders are carried out.”
“My officers denied taking money from the people, selling bags of betel nuts and sharing money among themselves as stated in the media,” PPC Riolo emphasises. Despite the denial of the allegations by the PPC, the RSIPF Professional Standard Internal Investigation (PSII) Unit is now investigating the matter.