Former rebel commander giving ex-criminals a second chance with jobs in Solomon Islands

A former rebel commander in the Solomon Islands is hiring ex-criminals in a bid to keep them from causing trouble.

The regional intervention force is being withdrawn after 14 years. Source: 1 NEWS

Jimmy Lusibaea once known as Jimmy Rasta in the Malaitan Eagle force, is now a member of parliament and leading businessman.

He was arrested by the Regional Assistance Mission (RAMSI) in 2003 and acquitted over the deaths of two constables but served prison time for robbery.

He told 1 NEWS that when he was imprisoned he was told he would stay there and rot, but says that was not according to God's plan.

He says he now hires 100 workers in construction and security – most of them former rebels and criminals.

"We have been in to prison together, when I came out I created this company and they work for me knowing full well that none of the companies here in Solomons would employ us," he said.

He said most of his workers now have families who they want to support and if he didn’t employ them they would potentially cause trouble.

One of the biggest challenges the Solomon Islands faces is the largely unemployed youth population, 67 per cent of the population are between the ages of 15-25.

Locals fear this week's withdrawal of RAMSI, which has been in the Solomon Islands for 14 years keeping the peace, will lead to more trouble.