Over 80 police in Papua New Guinea dismissed for misconduct | Pacific Beat

Over 80 police in Papua New Guinea dismissed for misconduct

Over 80 police in Papua New Guinea dismissed for misconduct

Updated 28 February 2013, 18:32 AEST

The Papua New Guinea police force has revealed that 87 officers were dismissed for misconduct between 2010 and 2012, and about half of the 87 were dismissed for police brutality.

Some of the worst cases involved the rape of prisoners in custody.

But the PNG police force says it has a zero tolerance approach to police brutality, and some officers have been given lengthy jail sentences for such behaviour.

Cathy Harper spoke with a spokesman for the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary, Superintendent Dominique Kakas.

Presenter: Cathy Harper

Speaker: Superintendent Dominique Kakas, a spokesman for the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary

KAKAS: The 87 were not just dismissed for police brutality, some were for stealing, some were for other serious discipline offences, some were actually for rape and so on.

HARPER: Did those rapes occur on duty or off duty?

KAKAS: A number of them were on duty.

HARPER: So what were the circumstances of the on duty rapes?

KAKAS: Usually they would bring in suspects and whilst they were in police custody the incident might have occurred.

HARPER: And you say some of these officers were successfully prosecuted by the victim and have been sentenced to lengthy jail sentences.

KAKAS: Yes.

HARPER: Does this kind of thing go on without prosecutions happening at all or being successful?

KAKAS: Whatever is reported we take a tough stand on that. We've been encouraging members of the public that they have been victims of police brutality to come forward and report the matter. The police top management is serious about addressing this issue. As I said we've got a zero tolerance stance on police brutality. And in most cases we will give the maximum penalty, which is dismissal of the members concerned. At the same time we also would make sure that they're also tried criminally as well.

HARPER: Is police brutality a big problem in your force?

KAKAS: It is a problem, it is of concern for both members of the public and the management of the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary.

HARPER: Is police brutality widespread in the force?

KAKAS: I wouldn't say widespread but as I said it is of concern and really it shouldn't be an issue. We should not have police brutality. If you want to beat up somebody you beat them with pen and paper, make sure you make the charges stick and they're sent to prison. We do not, as I said, we've got a zero tolerance level on roughing up members of the public.

HARPER: I understand that there are some concerns in Papua New Guinea that police officers find it very difficult to prosecute cases through the courts and it takes too long, so that sometimes they take the law into their own hands so to speak and deal with the issue themselves. Do you think that happens?

KAKAS: No really there should be no reason for that. Members of the police force have sworn an oath to protect members of the public regardless of what they think. And the management of the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary has pretty much got a zero tolerance level on police brutality, and we really see that there is really no grounds for any member of the police force to assault a member of the public.

HARPER: Is it difficult to get prosecutions through the courts? I mean does it take a very long time?

KAKAS: No it really doesn't take a long time. Basically it's upon the members of the police force to actually do their work and do it properly and professionally, we shouldn't have any problems with that.

HARPER: Are you under any pressure from the government because I understand there were some compensation claims that the government had to pay out on for people who had been subject to bashings by the police?

KAKAS: Yes we have been as you said under the spotlight by the government and national parliament, particularly they've raised the issues about police brutality. And that has been a concern with the government yes.

HARPER: How much compensation has the government had to pay victims of police brutality?

KAKAS: A lot of the cases are still ongoing but we believe there's about two billion kina claims against the state. Now of that we believe about 500 million is against the police for various offences, including police brutality and so on.

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