By Elliot Dawea
The Australian government has apologised for the unfortunate action taken by the Australian immigration officers against Prime Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo to undergo an explosive body search over the weekend.
Australian High Commissioner to Solomon Islands Matt Anderson expressed his government’s regret to Prime Minister Lilo following the incident which was conducted at the Brisbane airport when PM and his delegation arrived from Indonesia Saturday Morning to attend the Black Birding anniversary celebration at Bundaberg.
Mr Anderson on Monday in response expressed regret for any embarrassment or inconvenience this incident may have caused to Prime Minister Lilo and his delegation during the aviation security screening at Brisbane Airport on Saturday morning.
He said Solomon Islands Prime Minister Lilo should have been exempted from the random explosive trace detection test.
|Photo: Kadamana/Solomon Star|
“We are working with relevant Australian Government agencies to understand what happened, and ensure that breaches of dignity do not occur again.
“The Australian Government takes very seriously its obligations and responsibilities under international and domestic law to protect foreign dignitaries from harassment or impairment of their dignity.
“Australia attaches great importance to its relationship with Solomon Islands and is strongly committed to close government, business and people-to people links,” the high commissioner said.
Speaking to the local media at a press conference upon his arrival from Australia yesterday PM Lilo told local reporters that he was stunned at the Brisbane airport when a female immigration officer searched him.
He said it was ridiculous to undergo further checks after he went through the normal checking procedure.
“When the lady approached me I confronted her and say what guarantees you to search me because I have gone through the normal checking process.
“My protocol officers have to react and tell the immigration officers in Brisbane that they are approaching the Prime Minister and such search is ridiculous.”
However, Prime Minister Lilo admitted the search was based on reports an Australian intel officer based in Honiara relayed to Canberra.
According to information this paper has gathered yesterday, recently some Kolombangara people have used the media to complain about the PM who is also their MP.
They complained that PM Lilo has not been truthful as their leader. In pidgin they said "PM man fo bom ia."
Unfortunately the Australian intel officer in the country does not really understand the different pijin slangs. So when he heard about the Kolombangara people's complaint, the officer reported it to ASIO (Aust Security Intelligence Organisation).
The news of the incident came out yesterday it has sparked much discussion and debate in the Forum Solomon Islands International (FSII) Facebook page, a page that is being accessed world-wide by some 4,400 members.
Benjamin Afuga FSII Chief Executive Officer (CEO) yesterday also wrote a letter to the Australian High Commissioner requesting the office to consult with Canberra to carry out a full investigation into this issue in order to establish the truth and the reasons for the search and kindly requests the AHC to make a report.