BOUGAINVILLE TO HAVE OWN POLICE

admin's picture

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (June 4, 2001 – Post -Courier)---Bougainville will have its own police force.

The head of police, likely to be known as Chief of Police, will report directly to the autonomous Bougainville Government -- an arrangement similar to that of the heads of Australia State Police who report to the State Government rather than to the Federal Police.

The Chief of Police will be appointed with some input provided by the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary.

Bougainville police will continue to wear the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary crest highlighting that it exists under Papua New Guinea.

And police personnel from PNG will be able to conduct investigations on Bougainville of issues pertaining to PNG, as the need arises.

That was the consensus reached last week on police arrangements, which followed some intense discussions.

The intensity arose from the initial National Government position presented by the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary that they wanted Bougainville to become a fifth divisional command headed by a divisional commander with the rank of Assistant Commissioner.

PNG already has four divisional commands headed by Assistant Commissioners, which are the Southern, Islands, Highlands and Border and Coastal commands.

Bougainville leaders, with the 1989 riot squad police raids fresh in their minds and the fact that police formed part of the Security Forces deployment on Bougainville, refused this outright. Attempts by the National Government for this to be seen as a transitional arrangement was also refused.

In fact, insiders indicate that it was the highlighting of the Australian model that finally helped the talks to reach a compromise.

The compromise on police arrangements and the earlier defense ones were significant enough for the National Government to invite the press to cover the solutions amicably reached in the Gateway Hotel.

One official told the Post-Courier that the rest of the issues that need to be finalized are not likely to be as contentious as police and defense arrangements.

The three main leaders -- PNG’s Delegation Leader and Bougainville Affairs Minister Moi Avei and Co-Leaders of the Bougainville Delegation Joseph Kabui and Governor John Momis -- all commended the text on police.

Commenting on the arrangements, Minister Avei said police was "the most difficult one" because that’s the arm of State that relates on an every day basis with citizens -- whether in Bougainville or in other parts of PNG.

"The challenge for all sides has been to develop an appropriate police force that can relate meaningfully to the people of Bougainville in the attempt to bring about restoration of civil authority," he said, adding that many ordinary Bougainvilleans really don’t care about some of the text developed in the talks.

"It is therefore imperative for all of us to change what is in the minds of the silent majority of Bougainvilleans for whom fear drives their behavior. But we must never forget the fact that the police force is not there to tell us or to put us away when we do wrong. They are there as our friends. The policemen we have are the policemen we deserve to get. They reflect how we behave in our villages.

"If we behave like rascals and criminals then we deserve the police to behave in the way they do. And if we behave as Melanesians -- proud of our custom, proud of our wantok system -- then we will develop police culture that is both appropriate and relevant.

"And I believe that in the text on police -- after these long and protracted negotiations -- what is appearing in shape is an appropriate police structure that can relate to the special situation in Bougainville. It is also very compatible to the Royal PNG Constabulary," he said, adding there will be interrelation between the two forces that is complementary but at the same time both would be mindful of their separate jurisdictions.

"These are two homegrown texts which we have developed. They cannot be said to be the Bougainvilleans’ text on police nor can the one on defense be said to be a National Government text. We have been developing this autonomy as a combined package belonging to both of us."

Minister Avei used the occasion to emphasize that PNG had the wisdom, fortitude and courage to come up with homegrown solutions that suit the conditions of PNG in this particular time of its development.

In a statement issued later, Minister Avei said: "With these principles agreed, the way is now clear to wrap up discussions on autonomy early next week, and submit the entire autonomy package to Cabinet later this month.

For additional reports from The Post-Courier, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT REPORT News/Information Links:  Newspapers/The Post-Courier (Papua New Guinea).

Provided by Vikki John VIKKI@law.uts.edu.au" target="_blank">(VIKKI@law.uts.edu.au

Rate this article: 
No votes yet

Add new comment