Papua New Guinea looks for solutions to worsening gun crime

8:03 am on 22 April 2024
Homemade guns confiscated by or surrendered to police in Alotau.

Homemade guns confiscated by or surrendered to police in Alotau, Milne Bay Province, PNG Photo: Waikaidi

Papua New Guinea (PNG) is considering looking at overseas solutions, perhaps from even as far as Africa, to find solutions to its gun crime problem.

The country has been wracked with violent gun crime for many years with signs in recent times that the problem is worsening.

It was discussed at a recent conference involving PNG police and military, the European Union and the United nations.

RNZ Pacific's PNG correspondent Scott Waide described the conference's discussion from a workshop, as an attempt to find "best practices".

"They've decided on setting up something of a council that will be the overarching body looking at gun violence, gun control, and drawing from best practices all over the world."

"It's a council that is looked specifically at gun violence, the importation of guns.

Waide said the other important thing that has come about from the confernece is the removal of the role of guns registrar from the commissioner, and put under this committee if it comes to that.

These ideas were proposed by a report on gun control which had been compiled for the government in 2005 by retired Major General Jerry Singirok.

General Singirok was present at the workshop, where an agreement was reached to review the report and incorporate its recommendations in some way, in a future document, which would be taken to the National Executive Council.

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PNG guns Mendi Photo: RNZ Pacific/ Melvin Levongo

Waide said successive governments had ignored the Singirok report but the current Marape-Rosso government has taken several initiatives.

"One of those things is changes in legislation and specifying the harshest penalties for illegal weapons, possession of illegal weapons, and that's life imprisonment for anyone found in possession of illegal weapons."

Personal security employees generally carry guns in Papua New Guinea.

Personal security employees generally carry guns in Papua New Guinea. Photo: RNZI / Johnny Blades

Waide said the real problem with gun control was enforcement.

He said Deputy Prime Minister John Rosso told the workshop that while the government has changed the law "there has to be this willingness to go out and actually arrest people who are in possession of weapons".

"Now, it's not difficult to identify them. It's all over social media. It's just there's been no will."

Waide also spoke about the PNG intelligence sector which he said had been neglected by past governments.

The current government is attempting to improve the sector's capacity to identify gun offenders and pass on that information so arrests can be made.

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