20 Oct 2010

Papua New Guinea police end close protection roles for most politicians and VIPs

4:36 pm on 20 October 2010

The Papua New Guinea police commissioner has ordered the immediate recall of all police personnel serving as close protection officers or bodyguards to elected leaders and to VIPs in the private sector.

The order is intended to bring officers back into their core policing functions.

Gari Baki says it complements earlier instructions to stop police personnel working as private security guards and aims to further increase police visibility in the community.

The order doesn't apply to officers assigned to guard the current and former governors -general, the prime minister and his deputy, the opposition leader, and the chief justice.

Mr Baki says the police service is constitutionally mandated to protect and serve all PNG citizens and not a few elected leaders and elites.

The moves also reflect the force's personnel shortages, with just 1900 active frontline officers for a population of more than six million.

The internal security minister, Sani Rambi, who was the first to lose his bodyguard, has endorsed the commissioner's actions, saying he doesn't need close personal protection.