30 May 2013

PNG police face arrest after Achilles cutting incident

5:46 pm on 30 May 2013

Papua New Guinea's top policeman, Tom Kulunga, says it is totally unbelievable that officers allegedly slashed the achilles tendons of a group of people last Saturday in Port Moresby.

Signs are the group had not committed an offence and were returning to their settlement after police had earlier stopped them from confronting people at another camp.

The police media relations officer, Superintendent Dominic Kakas, says the group was then allegedly attacked by another squad of police armed with bush knives.

Mr Kakas told Don Wiseman that Commissioner Kulunga is adamant there is no place for such brutality in the force and any officers involved face suspension and arrest.

DOMINIC KAKAS: All policemen allegedly involved in that assault and the wounding of those persons will be suspended and arrested and charged. They'll be dealt with criminally, as well as administratively.

DON WISEMAN: There's been a lot of dubious actions, there's been a lot of misbehaviour, a lot of criminality by PNG police over the years. But this particular incident is, well, as the commissioner says, totally unbelievable.

DK: It is, yes. And the commissioner is quite concerned abbot that. Especially when just last month we launched the police modernisation programme, which is all about the constabulary getting back to basics and doing things the way they should be done.

DW: Clearly there are a lot of people who are not going to allow any sort of modernisation, they'll have to go.

DK: Yes. Obviously, we really need to weed out the bad elements within the constabulary. And the commissioner is determined about this. He said, 'Whatever it takes, we will weed out all the rotten apples within the constabulary'.

DW: Now, the other horror event involving PNG police this week has been this shooting of a student in Lae. Police supposedly were shooting warning shots and they killed one student and and badly injured another. What was going on?

DK: Well, investigations are still going on. At this point in time we can't really confirm the incident in Lae.

DW:We have a student shot dead.

DK: Yes, one was shot dead, one was wounded. Now we are still investigating, and obviously...

DW:Do you mean that police may not be responsible?

DK: Well, we may or may not be. That remains to be seen. But, as I said, the commissioner has also instructed the commander for the Momase to get to the bottom of this. And if policemen are involved they will be dealt with accordingly. Really, there's a concern that the commissioner has raised that there's really no need for warning shots to be fired from high-powered weapons.

DW: Well, clearly they don't know how to fire warning shots.

DK: That's the thing. There's been a number of incidents where so-called warning shots were fired and stray bullets hit someone. And the commissioner is concerned about this. He's raised this with the senior police hierarchy in a bid to try to find some way out of the situation here.

DW:The Papua New Guinea police is about to renew closer links with Australia. Are you going to speak with Australia about how to use guns properly, when to use them, to avoid using them in a panic and so on?

DK: Yes, yes. That's basically what we'll be doing. The commissioner has actually mentioned that, if need be, police personnel will be going through retraining programmes on the proper use of firearms and when to discharge firearms and so on. So that will be a priority, yes.