By Theckla Gunga – EM TV News, Port Moresby
The continuous brutality and abuse by officers of the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary (RPNGC) has resulted in the arrest of six members – five male and one female.
Prime Minister, Peter O’Neill, issued a directive at the start of the New Year for Police Commissioner, Gari Baki, to deal with officers who have committed crimes under oath.
The stern warning from the top hierarchy is now a challenge for the Police Commissioner who has declared 2016 as a Year of Discipline.
All six were arrested and charged for their involvement in different criminal offences. From the six, three are probationary constables and have less than three years of experience in the force.
Last Tuesday, two probationary constables attached to the NCD Beat Patrol unit were released on K1,000 bail for a sexual assault charge.
They are 23-year old Pedro Baiba, and 22-year old Gilfrod Avenamo.
The next day, a suspended police officer, who has been on the run for months, was captured by NCD police and formally charged for illegal possession of a police issued fire arm.
On Friday, Constable Baiba was charged for armed robbery while another police officer, Guba Manu was charged by the national court for sexual penetration of a minor.
All these misconducts and abuse of power by disciplined officers have prompted Baki to push commanders to address ill-disciplined officers working under their command.
Baki admitted that RPNGC is facing serious challenges because of the breakdown of supervision at all levels in the constabulary.
He said commanders would be held accountable to ensure that RPNGC’s disciplinary process is strictly enforced nationwide.
The Police Force Act outlines at least 50 minor and serious disciplinary offences and the administration process involved.
From these disciplinary offences, the six police officers were charged for five different offences.
Police brutality remains the most committed offence by police officers. It was described by the Commissioner as an abnormal behaviour by a police officer and is against the foundational duties and responsibilities of a RPNGC member.
Statistics from the internal affairs directorate registered over 1,600 cases of police abuse between 2004 and 2007.
From this figure, 300 were criminal cases implicating RPNGC members and 125 classified as administrative disciplinary offence.
Police records show that over 274 officers were dismissed from the force between these seven years.
Following these allegations, Baki has appealed to the public to report any police brutality cases to the commissioner’s office or at any police station.
His appeal is a response to Prime Minister O’Neill’s intention to weed out officers found to be practicing unethical behaviour, and the use of unnecessary violence by police officers.