4 May 2011

Investigation calls for end of PNG police/Esso deal

3:21 pm on 4 May 2011

An independent investigation has recommended that a memorandum of understanding between Papua New Guinea police and Esso Highlands Ltd for security for the LNG project be terminated.

The independent committee was set up to investigate the suspension of former police commissioner Gari Baki, who was alleged to have misled the prime minister into approving a more than four million US dollar allocation for police operations

The newspaper, the National, reports that the committee, in its final report, stated that the MoU had impinged on the independence of the Royal PNG Constabulary.

The investigators found that the MoU was not vetted by the attorney-general and state solicitor's office.

The report says funding of police personnel's per diem, accommodation, food and body armour by an organisation other than the constabulary appeared contrary to the constitution and seriously compromised the independence of the police force.

The Esso Highlands project manager Peter Graham told the committee that the company had similar arrangements with two other countries, Nigeria and Angola, with PNG being the third.

However, the committee noted in its report that those two countries were in varying degrees of civil war, expressing grave concern that PNG had been lumped together in the same category.