By Alfred Sasako
THE Government was yesterday given an ultimatum to respond to claims by regular police officers and others who served on the Solomon Islands-Bougainville border as well as during the ethnic tension.
The 14-day deadline starts today – March 9, 2018.
The Combined Group, which includes unarmed regular police, special constables, marine officers, correctional service officers, Customs, Immigration and medical personnel, decided the 14-day deadline after their meeting in Honiara yesterday.
They number between 2,000 and 3,000 people, according to their president, Henry Bartholomew Kahui.
“There’s been no definite answer coming from the government the dialogue with the government began several years ago.
“Last year for example, we met with the Special Secretary to the Prime Minister (SSPM) who assured us in writing that the government was working on a comprehensive policy to address the matter.
“That meeting took place last September. Seven months later we are still waiting,” Mr Kahui said.
In his letter dated September 12, 2017, SSPM John Muria Jnr, told the members of the Combined Group that past government had been dealing with the issue on a piece meal basis.
“As such the Government is now working on a comprehensive policy to address all outstanding issues/claims including from the Border Issues and Ethnic Tension period. This will also include making financial costing for the claims,” Mr Muria Jnr said.
“The Policy will guide the Government on how to address these issues as a whole and not on a case by case basis which includes legal clarification from the Attorney General on whether claims have legal justifications,” the letter said.
But, Kahui said what his group wanted to know is where the so-called comprehensive policy is at.
He said the 14-day ultimatum is the first of a series of activities the Combined Group plan to pursue until there is a definite answer from the government.
“Our executive members will meet on 26 March to discuss the response which we anticipate from the government. All our members will meet the next day to discuss what other actions to take if there’s an unsatisfactory answer from the government,” he said.
“What we are seeking from the government in terms of our claims is not new. The Government has already set precedence in paying members of the Field Force two years ago.
“They at least had weapons to protect themselves. The members of our group never had any weapons but we put the interest of the nation before our own safety. In fairness, I think we deserve to be paid,” Kahui said.