1 Sep 2003

PNG police impose Act in Port Moresby to try and curb ethnic clashes

3:33 pm on 1 September 2003

olice in Papua New Guinea are imposing the Inter-Tribal Fighting Act for the first time in Port Moresby, following recent ethnic clashes which killed at least nine people.

The National Capital District and Central Commander, Geoffrey Vaki, says the Act means leaders of ethnic groups will be held responsible for violent acts by their people.

He says jail terms under the Act range from 1 to 3 years and fines of up to nearly 6-thousand US dollars.

Mr Vaki says once an area is declared a fighting zone under the Act, no one is allowed to carry items that could be used as weapons and police will be able to issue search warrants faster than in the past.

He says it will help police, who are battling staff shortages.

"We got 2-hundred-and fifty thousand in NCD Central. That's quite a big population and the police force is one thousand three hundred, seven hundred regular and the rest is made up of reserves and part time police. So you can say that the ratio is pathetic at the least, it's one thousand point two people per police officer."

Geoffrey Vaki says the Act was originally written in 1980 after fighting in the Highlands.