Case Vetting By PNG Fraud Squad ‘Suspicious,’ Lawyer Says

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

Procedural breaches alleged after anti-corruption office reopened

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, May 13, 2016) – A lawyer representing Papua New Guinea's police fraud squad says conditions around vetting "high profile" investigations is suspicious.

PNG's police commissioner Gary Baki has allowed the fraud squad back into its office after he had the office closed for three weeks following a series of high-profile arrests by the squad last month.

Accusing fraud squad head Mathew Damaru and his colleagues of alleged procedural breaches, Mr Baki was asked by the national court to allow the squad to get back to work.

The squad has been directed to present all high-profile cases to a vetting committee before arrests can be made.

Mr Damaru's lawyer McRonald Nale said the vetting committee condition was unconstitutional.

"Now you're actually discriminating against citizens. The law should apply to everyone but now you say you have a vetting committee for high-profile (cases), so how do you define the word high-profile? The public prosecutor's an independent office, the police men are independent, so why do you have to pretend to vet? It's unconstitutional to have a thing like that. A policeman should be trained properly to be able to make that assessment, whether it is to arrest a person or not," said Nale.

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