15 Dec 2003

The Head of the Pacific Islands Secretariat says Australian police in PNG should not be armed

8:09 am on 15 December 2003

The head of the Pacific Islands Secretariat says he welcomes the plan to send 230 Australian police to Papua New Guinea, but the police should not be armed.

Noel Levi, the Forum Secretary-General, says he welcomes the generosity shown by Australia in the nearly one point eight billion US dollars plan, but is recommending caution over the way it is conducted.

Mr Levi, who is from Papua New Guinea, says PNG's sovereignty must be respected and there must be sensitivity and understanding over its cultural values.

"When you are armed, the people you are going to discipline will also want to arm themselves to protect themselves, so I hope that the two countries will further refine the egnagement of Australian police to properly ensure that Australian police are not armed."

Mr Levi says the PNG plan is a bilateral agreement and therefore quite different to the Australian-led regional assistance mission to Solomon Islands.