PNG police force facing unprecedented threat, says MP

11:06 am on 3 May 2016

The independence of Papua New Guinea's police force is facing an unprecedented threat, according to a government MP.

PNG Police Commissioner, Gary Baki.

PNG Police Commissioner, Gary Baki. Photo: EMTV

The criticism from Bire Kimisopa, a former police minister, comes as the police commissioner Gary Baki has sidelined fraud squad detectives who have been probing a major corruption case which implicates the prime minister Peter O'Neill.

Mr Kimisopa said attempts by Mr Baki to suspend the fraud squad officers, which was subsequently stayed by the court, and then to block the officers from their office are part of a troubling trend of obstructing investigations into high-profile fraud.

"No commissioner can interfere with a policeman who is actually doing his lawful responsibilities," said Mr Kimisopa. "What this commissioner is attempting to do is attempting to silence his own people from within.

"That's never been done before since independence in this country," he said.

Bire Kimisopa said Gary Baki's claims that the fraud squad officers were "erratic" and "out of control" were unfounded.

Lawyers representing the head of the fraud squad, Matthew Damaru, have indicated that contempt proceedings had been filed against Mr Baki, and more were likely.

However, Mr Baki has launched an internal inquiry into the fraud squad's activities, claiming they have breached police procedure on numerous counts.

The commissioner also has the full backing of his current minister, Robert Atiyafa, who said PNG cannot allow an agency like the fraud squad to be influenced by anyone other than the police commissioner.

"I want to see the office of the commissioner for police not being politicised," said Mr Atiyafa.

"I'd rather see that the office of the commissioner of police has integrity and that every officer down the line reports to him. And that's the bottom line."

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