AFP personnel in the Solomon Islands
Officers of the Australian Federal Police (AFP) make up the largest contingent of the Australian forces in Solomon Islands, deployed under the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI) in July 2003. They also make up the largest national contingent in RAMSI’s multi-national Participating Police Force (PPF).
The initial police contingent in July 2003 consisted of 74 AFP, APS and New Zealand Police officers. By December 2003, there were 150 AFP officers deployed to Solomon Islands, with the number increasing and fluctuating to 208 (July 2004), 294 (July 2005), 172 (July 2006), 227 (March 2007) and 276 (November 2008).
The AFP’s deployment is now managed by the International Deployment Group (IDG), which includes riot police and specialist police under the Operational Response Group (ORG).
Through the PPF, AFP personnel have been involved in a range of tasks, including establishment of law and order, rural patrolling, arrest of militia leaders and politicians, and training of the Solomon Islands Police Force (SIPF).
Since 2003, an AFP officer has always served as commander of the PPF, and Deputy Commissioner of the SIPF.
A detailed analysis of the AFP deployment in Solomon Islands was conducted by the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) and published in June 2007.
Policing the region, Interview with AFP Commissioner Mick Keelty, Australia Network TV, 3 June 2007
“Mick Keelty: In almost every case, like for example the Solomon Islands, for the first couple of years of operation in the Solomon Islands, everybody was singing the praises of what had been achieved. The disarming of the Royal Solomon Islands Police was seen by the community, and by the police force and by observers in the international community, as a very positive step.
“In the riots that occurred in the Solomon Islands in April last year, and the fact that we had several of our members… repatriated to Australia for emergency treatment in hospitals demonstrates quite clearly the sort of restraint that was exercised by people who were in place over there. And the response to that is an inquiry into the action of police during the riots. When I went there, within 24 hours of those riots, and I saw how the police stood themselves between a line of demonstrators – quite violent demonstrators – and what now appears to be the case, politically if you like motivated demonstrations, standing in line between them and their Parliament House. Protecting the government of the Solomon Islands, physically protecting the government of the Solomon Islands. They put their life on the line to do it, and one of our officers lost his life, was murdered in the line of duty in the Solomon Islands. And I simply don’t understand why anyone would criticise, or even think to criticise, the work of the AFP in the Solomon Islands.”
Australian Federal Police Overseas Operations, Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) Audit report No.53, 2006-07 Performance Audit
“The AFP deployed rapidly to Solomon Islands following Australian Government agreement to a request for assistance from the Solomon Islands Government. AFP personnel were quickly able to make a significant and positive contribution to law and order and public safety following the ongoing civil unrest that had beset Solomon Islands since the late 1990s. The first two phases of the mission, restoring and then consolidating law and order were implemented quite successfully. The deployment to Solomon Islands was only the second large scale deployment of police internationally for the AFP (following Timor Leste), and as advised by the AFP, the largest civilian police-led intervention of its type in the world. It also became the first AFP international deployment where the AFP was required to maintain logistical support for the mission….
“The AFP has developed, revised and refined its pre-deployment training over time in light of its evolving experiences. However, the ANAO considers that the AFP’s pre-deployment training was not well synchronised with the phases of the mission. As a result, there was a significant time lag in updating the training of deployed personnel to accommodate the emerging skill needs associated with the capacity building phase of the mission….
“The planning and delivery of the AFP’s role in restoring and then consolidating law and order in Solomon Islands was well managed and the outcomes have been highly regarded internationally….
“The subsequent third phase of the mission, to assist in the capacity building and development of the Solomon Islands Police Force (SIPF), was commenced without a clear, staged strategy for implementation. In this context, personnel initially tasked with capacity development activities did not receive targeted training in preparation for this phase. As a result, personnel deployed as advisors did not all have the necessary skills, attributes and understanding of the task and the cultural implications of policing in Solomon Islands. Over time, the AFP has provided more targeted pre-deployment and in-mission preparation and training for AFP personnel involved in capacity building activities….
“Overall, the capacity building and development phase has been progressing steadily. In the early stages of capacity development, the AFP’s focus was on building police skills, knowledge and capacities. More recently, the AFP has broadened this focus to include skills such as literacy within the SIPF, which are fundamental in building a number of police skills and capacities.
“Given present uncertainty about the tenure of the RAMSI deployment, there is scope for the AFP to include measurable short, medium and long term outcomes for its capacity building initiatives.”
Income tax ruling for AFP SES employees under RAMSI, Australian Tax Office Class Ruling CR 2006/19
“Income tax: assessable income: Australian Federal Police SES employees deployed to the Solomon Islands as members of the Participating Police Force under the Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands.
“The salary, performance bonus and allowances referred to in paragraphs 19, 20 and 22 of this Ruling, derived by AFP employees described in paragraphs 3 to 6 of this Ruling deployed to the Solomon Islands are exempt from tax under section 23AG of the ITAA 1936 where:
- the employee has been engaged, or is taken to have been engaged, in service in the Solomon Islands for a continuous period of not less than 91 days; and
- the salary, performance bonus and allowances are derived from that foreign service, including payments for recreation leave that has wholly accrued from the period of service in the Solomon Islands.”