28 Aug 2004

First Australian police to begin PNG mission

7:38 am on 28 August 2004

The first police officers in an Australian intervention mission are set to arrive in Papua New Guinea on Sunday.

Australia's Justice Ministry says the 18 officers will be the first batch of a police mission as part of the so-called Enhanced Co-Operation programme.

The police will undergo eight days of training at Bomana Police College in Port Moresby.

Eight members of this group will then take up duties on Bougainville on the seventh of September.

Up to 210 Australian Federal Police will be deployed up to mid-March.

The officers will be armed except on Bougainville which is designated free from firearms.

The deployment was stalled for at least six months after concerns about which jurisdiction Australian officers would be in if they were charged with an offence.

The Australian Justice Minister Chris Ellison says Australia has already proved its credentials through the work of the federal police and Defence in East Timor and in Solomon Islands.