PNG Post-Courier

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (Nov. 9) – It is nearly one week since the Australian Special Broadcasting Service (SBS) "Dateline" report airing serious allegations of police brutality against landowners in the logging areas of the Western Province.

It also highlighted allegations of police receiving bribes for the actions taken against the landowners. Policeman Emmanuel Bani appeared on the program and admitted he and members of his Southern region task force had used force against the landowners.

He said the task force was flown into the camps by the loggers. On the program. he stated: " We handled those suspects good and proper. We bashed them up, we hit them with huge irons and when we mobilised in there we made sure that these people who complain against rights of their benefit were manhandled, you know. I became violent because of their actions, because of their instructions.’’

He also went on to reveal that Rimbunan Hijau managers paid them for the work they were doing. The company has denied the allegations. But the Government and the police hierarchy have been totally silent on this issue.

The Government has said nothing of substance so far on the allegations.

The Prime Minister has instead chosen to attack the SBS journalist who was taken to the logging site by Rimbunan Hijau managers to see what the company was doing at the sites.

The issues raised in the program are of an extremely serious nature and the Government and police have an obligation to the public to explain what actions, if any, are being taken about the allegations. The Prime Minister did not provide any detailed explanation when questioned by Opposition MP Nick Kuman in Parliament over the report last week. We call on Sir Michael Somare, his Minister for Internal Security and the Commissioner of Police to come out with an explanation.

Allegations of corruption in the logging industry have been around for a long time and so far no Papua New Guinea Government has demonstrated any real commitment to dealing with them.

November 9, 2004

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