19 Jan 2016

PNG police to crack down on brutality in 2016

From , 6:04 am on 19 January 2016
Papua New Guinea police officers watch on during a protest rally in 2013.

Papua New Guinea police officers watch on during a protest rally. Photo: AFP

The Papua New Guinea police chief has declared 2016 will be the year ill-discipline and police brutality are stamped out.

Gary Baki's comments come as he revealed over 1600 complaints of police abuse were received between 2007 and 2014.

Koro Vaka'uta reports.

Gary Baki says he's determined to address misconduct problems that have plagued the force. He says figures showing more than 300 criminal cases among the complaints are deeply concerning.

"It just goes to show we are not on top of that kind of behaviour that are happening within the organisation and we are not knowing fully well what our men and women are doing outside of the organisation until it's being reported.  The record is too high.  We need to clamp down on it and make sure it does not follow that same kind of pattern."

Mr Baki says improving disciplinary processes could be central to addressing the number of complaints.

He says he is also concerned that less than half the 600 recommended dismissals were carried out.

The commissioner says senior officers need to be more careful when dealing with such cases.

"The people who've initiated the disciplinary process at the bottom have not complied with the disciplinary requirements, mostly witness statements, that allows the file to be presented for adjudication is missing or is not attached.  That's why the adjudicators find it quite difficult for them to look at the file and decide whether that person is guilty or not guilty.  It's the process that came from out in the provinces or in the regions."

Workshops are now being run on how to go through the complaint and disciplinary procedures properly.

The National Capital District Police Metropolitan Superintendent, Ben Turi, is trying to lead from the front in dealing with the issue.

Mr Turi says 41 officers in his region, which includes Port Moresby, have been suspended for misconduct since October and face a total of 89 charges.

He has taken the step of publicising cell numbers of local commanders.

The dozen or so numbers, include that of the provincial police chief.

Mr Turi says people should start calling commanders directly to make sure complaints are dealt with.

"A number of police station commanders are happy with what I have done.  Maybe a few don't want to be bothered but they have no choice because I have been called.  Call them.  People have been calling my at one o'clock, two o'clock, three o'clock in the morning for assistance.  Policing commanders can be called anytime of the night to assist.  We are here to serve our people, regardless of when and what time."

Mr Turi's move is a step in the right direction, according to Acting Deputy Police Commissioner Jim Andrews.

He says the police have the best standards and processes in place but the problem is implementation and enforcement.

Mr Andrews has applauded Ben Turi and says other regional commanders can learn from him.

"That is very good.  The divisional commanders in the other four regions should see that would be able to see that and step up their indiscipline operations and deal with their own men.  I'm really thankful to the Metropolitan Commander and his divisional commander in NCD central for going forward and dealing with this situation.  It is very positive and that is what the commissioner and his management want to see."

Mr Andrews says a new disciplinary committee will hopefully lead to a more collective approach towards addressing the problem.