TRANSPARENCY Solomon Islands (TSI) notes the clarification from the Ministry of Police National Security and Correctional Services with regard to our article on Gift-Giving and Accepting of Gifts. Whilst the clarification is noted Transparency Solomon Islands stands by its comment and condemnation of giving such gifts to the Police and Correctional Services.
It is even more concerning that the responsible Ministry who should be responsible for setting the standard, the policies on such gifts, make a miserable effort of comparing this particular gift giving to other donors in other ministries etc. and that it is business as usual. Transparency Solomon Islands reminds the responsible Ministry that gifts given to other Ministries that we know of are not in this form, therefore not comparable in nature. Most of those gifts are to do with logistic support, equipment etc. that really strengthen the capacity and the work of those responsible Ministries. This gift is foodstuff and solar lanterns, and one wonders if these solar lanterns are kept in police custody for use by all or are already in the houses of police officers.
Transparency Solomon Islands therefore continues to urge the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force not to continue with this practice and for the Chinese Embassy to refrain from this into the future. The Ministry of Police and National Security cannot deny the fact that gifts of this nature are still inappropriate and as pointed out by Frank Short in his comment, a simple thank you letter would have been enough.
If the Police Force is to look after the people of Solomon Islands, those who reside and do business here in the country it needs to model itself on common principles that police in the Commonwealth Countries model themselves in. The Ministry needs to help the Police on policies relating to what to do in response to an offer of a gift, discount, or hospitality from someone outside Police. At all cost it must avoid and put a stop to any perception of influence in the performance of their duties and responsibilities. People need to have confidence and trust in police supervisors and high-ranking officers, and this act is counter-productive to that image.
The Ministry of Police and National Security cannot deny that such acts are capable of bringing Police’s integrity into question which is likely to undermine public trust and confidence.
Transparency Solomon Islands urges the Ministry to look into the suggestion of the former Commissioner of Police Mr. Frank Short and work on something that is transparent and accountable with regard to gift giving. It should also inform all embassies, development partners and companies of what is not accepted in the interest of keeping our police force independent at all times as they go about their duties and not to be smeared by such acts as this, may be well meaning but counter-productive to police image, integrity, and independence.
As a former Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Police and National Security Ms. Ruth Liloqula now the Executive Officer of Transparency Solomon Islands says that such a response from the Ministry responsible is very concerning and may indicate bigger problems in the administration of the ministry. For they fail to see how counterproductive this is with regard to police image, integrity, reputation and credibility all important ingredients of an independent police force she added.