By Meriba Tulo – EMTV News, Port Moresby
The task of enforcing the rule of law in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville continues to be a challenge. Especially following a decade-long civil war, and at a time now when the Island Region is preparing for a referendum on its political future, the Bougainville Police Service is taking a “Community Policing” approach to ensure citizens on the island can move around freely.
EMTV was in Arawa recently to observe a meeting of the Joint Weapons Disposal Secretariat, among those present was Commissioner of the Bougainville Service, Francis Tokura – A career police officer, Commissioner Tokura has returned home to head the BPS.
His role is challenging, especially for a region that is still reeling from the effects of a decade-long civil unrest. And with weapons still in the hands of different factions, the Bougainville Police Service’s role in enforcing the rule of law is even more challenging as they are not allowed to carry weapons.
Given this demanding environment, Police have taken a “Community Policing” approach. A large part of “Community Policing” is utilising the more than 300 auxiliary police officers within communities throughout the Autonomous Region. However, as in other parts of Papua New Guinea, police manpower remains an issue – with the police to population ratio on Bougainville way lower than accepted United Nations Standards.
For now, Bougainville Police Service officers are not required to carry weapons. This has made their roles in law enforcement somewhat difficult. But there have been discussions with relevant authorities to see how the Police Service can be adequately equipped to carry out their roles in a challenging environment.