Officer Suspended Amidst PNG Police Brutality

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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

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Commissioner says ‘no place for evil, brutal police’

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, May 30, 2013) – In Papua New Guinea, one policeman was suspended and arrested yesterday over the alleged wounding of 74 men in Port Moresby last Sunday.

Police Commissioner Tom Kulunga said that more policemen believed to be involved in the assault and wounding of a large number of men, all from Morobe, would be dealt with both administratively and criminally.

In a rare exercise of powers, a judge has summoned National Capital District (NCD) metropolitan commander Superintendent Andy Bawa and Gordon police station commander Senior Inspector John Tarur to appear in court to explain the incident.

Justice David Cannings said that he was very concerned at what was reported on page 4 of The National on Tuesday.

He said he had commenced court proceedings without a complainant as was the normal process because he was concerned with the allegations made against the police force and that the court was very interested in the matter.

Justice Cannings ordered Bawa and Tarur to prepare affidavits to respond to the serious claims of police brutality.

Cannings also directed the Public Solicitor office to provide legal advise and assist the victims who were assaulted by police last Sunday.

Bawa and Tarur are to appear before court on June 5.

"The alleged actions of the policemen are totally unbelievable," Police Commissioner Kulunga said when he was briefed by NCD-Central commander Assistant Commissioner Jim Andrews about the incident.

"We have no place for such evil and brutal policemen or women. We are police officers and we have sworn an oath to protect and serve, not abuse and insult, maim or kill."

Kulunga called a special meeting yesterday with senior police officers, including Deputy Commissioner Operations Simon Kauba and Deputy Commissioner Administration Awan Sete, where he demanded immediate police action over the case.

He also raised outstanding issues such as the fatal shooting of a young girl allegedly by police, the downtown Port Moresby "fan belt" beating of a female shown on national television and the baseball bat police assault of a street vendor.

During the meeting, Kulunga was given a full briefing of the most recent incident which started last Saturday at 8-Mile outside Port Moresby.

A fight there between two groups from Momase left a Morobean man dead.

In a retaliatory attack, Morobe youths set fire to a number of houses.

It was while the Morobe group was returning from 8-Mile that two police cars drew up alongside and some 70 men were told to lie face down on the ground at gunpoint whereupon three policemen are said to have progressively slashed them across their heels, severing their Achilles tendons.

Kulunga issued instructions for those involved in the assault and wounding case to be immediately suspended and tried both administratively and criminally.

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