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Commissioner calls attention to possible political interference

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, April 18, 2012) – Papua New Guinea (PNG) Police Commissioner Tom Kulunga’s assurance for an internal investigation to be conducted into the assault of nine members of the National Capital District (NCD) Highway Patrol has not gone down well with NCD based policemen and women.

And their reason was because only one of their demands has been addressed which is for an investigation while others which they consider fundamental to the issue were sidetracked by the Commissioner.

Key among their demands are an explanation for the assault of the Highway Patrol members; the deportation of the entire squad back to their province and for the squads to be under the Command of NCD Central Commander if they were here to assist them in policing duties.

Yesterday more than 300 members from all sections and units within the NCD Command held a meeting at the Gordon Police Barracks in the morning and demanded that Mt. Hagen based Mobile squad members who were involved in the alleged assault be arrested and charged and the rest of the troops be deported back to their command.

"If they were deployed here to track down rogue policemen then their duty is over because the Armed Robbery Response Unit (ARRU) which was disbanded is no longer in operation and their members have been deployed to all stations in which Police Station Commanders (PSC) have confirmed that they are now under their commands," said an officer.

They gave their demands to their Divisional Commander Francis Tokura, and their Metropolitan Commander Peter Guinness to present to Commissioner Kulunga and requested an answer to be ready by 4:30pm for their demands to be adequately addressed.

At 4pm yesterday Mr. Kulunga held a press conference and said: "Police personnel in NCD raised concerns this morning after members of the highlands based mobile squad allegedly assaulted some policemen attached to the highway patrol based at Gordon.

"The unfolding events of the past 48 hours is highly regrettable, the police force and the six million plus citizens of Papua New Guinea cannot be held at ransom over these issues.

"As professionals we can not allow the actions of a few to drive us away from our constitutional duties and responsibilities.

"Let me assure members of the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary (RPNGC) based in the NCD that internal investigations will be conducted into the unfortunate incident of yesterday and appropriate actions taken where necessary.

"I appeal to members of NCD police to resume duties in the meantime.

"At this juncture let me voice my deepest concerns about the direct involvement of politicians in dividing the RPNGC for their own ends. It is no secret that certain politicians are providing funding and hire vehicles for certain elements of the RPNGC who are operating outside of my command and control.

"While investigations are yet to be conducted into yesterday’s incident, I believe that the involvement of politicians is partly to blame for what has happened.

"We are at a critical period of our country and we do not require a divided and fragmented police service."

Mr. Kulunga is also instituting investigations to identify those police officers who are not on duty and are collaborating with politicians to create instability and uncertainty within the police command.

"While that is taking place I am appealing to all members of NCD police to fully understand the issues at hand and allow for normal investigations to be carried out," he said.

The members were not happy with the feedback and are planning another meeting this morning.

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