Weapons Amnesty Program In PNG's Hela Province Should Extend To Rest Of Highlands

Amnesty period ends; police to 'forcefully confiscate illegal firearms' going forward

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, March 2, 2017) – The National Government’s amnesty for surrender of firearms in the Hela Province should cover the rest of the Highlands provinces.

Women and community leaders in the highlands raised the concern as the amnesty period for voluntary surrender of firearms in the Hela Province ended yesterday.

As of today, police will use the law to forcefully confiscate illegal firearms still in the hands of wrong people.

Two councillors in Jiwaka Province and two women and youth leaders in Chimbu Province said the large amount of illegal firearms (more than 200) surrendered in Tari-Pori and Komo districts indicated there are more firearms in the rest of the highlands provinces.

They said the government should take the Hela operation as a pilot project and conduct a similar operation for the rest of the highlands provinces. Non-governmental organisation group Simbu Human Rights Defenders said similar operations should be conducted in the whole region to prevent bloodshed and destruction during the election period.

Director Monica Paulus commended the Hela Operation saying it was common knowledge that many people owned factory-made high powered firearms in the communities and a larger scale operation was needed.

Anglimp district in Jiwaka Province’s Kindeng ward one councillor Simeon Komb said all high powered illegal firearms publicly displayed and used in tribal fights were still in the hands of villagers.

"I can’t recall the government conducting an earlier operation to confiscate the deadly guns from the warring tribes in the highlands provinces. If Tari-Pori alone could bring in 150 firearms, most of which are homemade, how many guns do the rest of the districts in the highlands possess? It is really scary," Cr Komb said.

Cr Anis Bakarap of Kindeng ward Two said the disciplinary forces and government should be realistic in conducting the operations.

"At least we should make an attempt for an amnesty for voluntary surrender in all our districts.

The operation in Hela alone indicates the priority of our national leaders not the safety of our people but the money derived from the LNG projects," Cr Bakarap said.

They said if the government was incapable of conducting similar operations covering the whole region, strict laws or intelligent systems should be imposed to confiscate firearms throughout the region and country.

PNG Post-Courier
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