PNG: Court "Loopholes" Hinder Police Probes

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

Injunctions and "stalling" stem from legal precedent

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, January 11, 2016) – Loopholes in the court system is one reason why justice is not served to those who practice police brutality cases, says Police Commissioner Gari Baki.

"I regret to admit that some investigations (into police brutality cases) are stalled because members (of the Police Constabulary) implicated in these allegations have sought injunctions by using a Supreme Court ruling to delay or disrupt the investigations," he said.

Mr Baki said that this was made possible by a landmark case known as the Rabata versus The Office of the Police Commissioner court case.

"It was ruled that only commissioned officers with the rank of lnspector upwards were bestowed with powers to adjudicate these cases and as such all adjudications undertaken by junior ranking members of the constabulary were considered to be unwarranted, or void.

"Between 2007 and 2013 this loophole had affected our investigations and we encounter a major backlog of cases," he said.

However, the constabulary has come up with a solution, Mr Baki said, adding that this impediment was remedied with the creation of several new commissioned officers positions under the new organisational restructure.

"We may be faced with rampant allegations of police abuses, but we also have a disciplinary system that is designed to tackle these issues in a more efficient way. We are doing our part but we need also the public to help us identify rotten apples within the organisations and deal with them.

"Many of the recent cases are being investigated. Police personnel are being arrested and charged both administratively."

Mr Baki used the arrest in the condom saga as an example. He added it has been three months since the reshuffle of police hierarchies and so far 45 misbehaving NCD police personnel have already been charged with a wide range of criminal offenses.

"This year is a year of discipline and transformation for the constabulary into a trusted and caring community oriented police service."

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