25 Sep 2008

PNG Police Commissioner defends Force over accountability issue

3:28 pm on 25 September 2008

Papua New Guinea's Police Commissioner says his officers are being unfairly singled out for human rights abuses.

Gary Baki's comments follow the recent call by US-based Human Rights Watch for PNG police to be held accountable for their widespread use of torture, sexual assault and excessive force.

However Commissioner Baki says that in the past two years, the PNG police force has taken a number of steps, including working closely with the Ombudsman's Commission, to ensure officers who break the law are held accountable.

He says his officers have to contend with a culture of violence and abuse which falls right across PNG society.

"Papua New Guineans have what is known to be attitude problem in the community. OK, if you don't treat people in the way they have treated other members of the community - whether you are law enforcement agency, you are a councillor or a village leader - you will no standing in the community. There are some incidents that people deserve to be treated harshly so that they can respect the law. That's an accepted culture in PNG."

Gary Baki says that if police are found to be lapsing into crime or violating human rights, they will be dealt with accordingly.