PNG Police Told To Remain Politically Neutral

Security measures in capital beefed up

 By Jacklyn Sirias

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, July 22, 2016) – Police in the National Capital District have been warned not to take sides with political parties when parliament resumes today.

NCD and Central Commander Sylvester Kalaut (pictured) issued the warning yesterday as police beefed up security measures for today’s vote of no confidence in Prime Minister Peter O’Neill.

“I’d like to warn the members of the constabulary not to take sides with any politicians or any political parties when the vote of no confidence is exercised on the floor of parliament,” Kalaut said.

“We respect the members of the constabulary as individuals who have right to associate themselves with others.

“But by wearing the blue uniform, there is restriction on us from engaging or affiliating ourselves with political parties or with political interests.”

Kalaut said police personnel who disobeyed orders would be dealt with. Kalaut said the first and foremost role of the police was to keep peace and good order in the city during the parliament proceeding. 

“From command, we are committed and we must be neutral to ensure that peace and harmony is maintained in the community.

“We should ensure that the vote of no confidence is carried out peacefully and without any interference,” Kalaut said.

“There will be no disruptions to the parliamentary proceedings or disruptions to other services in the city. Police will be there to deal with anybody who violates the law or who tries to disrupt services.”

Kalaut appealed to non-governmental organisations, other interested parties and the general public to respect the rule of law and allow proceedings peacefully as police would be out in full force.

“Our leaders are mandated to represent our interests on the floor of parliament, of which they will exercise their judgement. 

“We are not politicians, so we should let them (leaders) instead to do what they are supposed to do as per their own concerns. 

“For it is a parliamentary process, it is guided by the constitution and the rules of the national parliament as to how it will be conducted.

“The process has been ordered by the court so let the process take its course.” He added that business operations in the city would be normal during the day.

NCD Met Supt Benjamin Turi said police would not tolerate people congregating in public places to take sides in the current political issue. He urged people to watch the sitting, which should be telecast on EMTV and NBC TV.

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Comments Police should stay out of politics - PFF PACIFIC FREEDOM FORUM·SUNDAY, 17 JULY 2016170 reads “ We must ... resist undue influence sought by Indonesia over our rights to protect and promote freedoms of speech for all Pacific people ” PFF Rarotonga, Cook Islands Sun, 17 Jul, 2016 . . . Police in Fiji and the Solomon Islands should stop interfering with peaceful protests, including the right to raise West Papua flags, says PFF, the Pacific Freedom Forum. "Seizing flags once again shows some of our police have no respect for freedom of speech," says PFF Chair Titi Gabi. "Such freedoms are guaranteed under the constitutions of both countries." Fiji media reported this week that police seized a West Papua flag from the private property of the Suva-based Pacific Conference of Churches. Police acted after a complaint to the Fiji ministry of Defence, from the embassey of Indonesia. Late last week, a similar complaint was made to Solomon Islands police by an Indonesian consular officer, over a banner hung at the international airport. "We support campaigners in the Solomon Islands describing this action as shameful," says Gabi. PFF is calling on the governments of Fiji and Solomon Islands to instruct police not to interfere with citizen rights to peaceful protest. This banner was hung outside the international airport in the Solomon Islands this week, drawing a complaint from an Indonesian consular official, who demanded it be taken down. PFF Co-Chair Monica Miller says that police must stay outside of politics, and protect citizen rights, not harm them. "Pacific countries have rightfully rejected political bullying from Australia and New Zealand in the past," says Miller. "We must also resist undue influence sought by Indonesia over our rights to protect and promote freedoms of speech for all Pacific people." In Fiji, the flag was rehoist after a peaceful protest. In the Solomon Islands, officers from the Criminal Investigation Department moved to remove a West Papua banner, hung in a hut outside the main terminal. Indonesia also pressured the Fiji Museum to shut down an art display by the Youngsolwara activist group, supporting self-determination for West Papua. Police interference in Fiji and Solomon Islands protests occurred at the same time as hundreds of arrests took place in Indonesia, as protesters gathered to await a decision from the Melanesian Spearhead Group on full membership for West Papua. Thousands marched in capitals across the Pacific in support of the MSG membership bid, including in Suva, Honiara, and Port Moresby. ABOUT PFF The Pacific Freedom Forum is a regional and global online network of Pacific media colleagues, with the specific intent of raising awareness and advocacy of the right of Pacific people to enjoy freedom of expression and be served by a free and independent media. We believe in the critical and basic link between these freedoms, and the vision of democratic and participatory governance pledged by our leaders in their endorsement of the Pacific Plan and other commitments to good governance. In support of the above, our key focus is monitoring threats to media freedom and bringing issues of concern to the attention of the wider regional and international community. . . .

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