19 Sep 2008

Human Rights Watch raises renewed concerns over abuse by PNG police

3:44 pm on 19 September 2008

The Washington-based Human Rights Watch has renewed calls for Papua New Guinea police officers to be held accountable for continued use of torture and sexual assault.

Human Rights Watch has written to the PNG Government highlighting its concerns over police abuse of their powers.

Its reports, based on extensive research in PNG, say sexual violence, intimidation and excessive force are common practice by police.

This is despite PNG having recently ratified international conventions which prohibit the use of torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment.

Human Rights Watch spokeswoman Zama Coursen-Neff admits that recent initiatives to promote accountability in the force are promising signs.

"The current Police Commissioner is beginning to speak openly about human rights and talk about the need to clean up the police force. And the Ombudsman Commission is actually now involved in some of the more serious cases, however this has simply not translated into an expectation among police that if they beat up children, if they rape girls, if they steal things from street vendors, then they're going to be prosecuted."