Focus on curbing criminality in Bougainville's Buin
The police in Bougainville are calling on chiefs in the Buin region to step up to counter the lawlessness there.
The police in Bougainville are calling on the chiefs in the Buin region to step up to counter the lawlessness there.
Criminality has long been a marked problem in south Bougainville and a forum on Monday, called by the autonomous Papua New Guinea region's police minister, Willie Masiu, brought the chiefs together to look for solutions.
Bougainville is set to hold a referendum on independence from Papua New Guinea before 2020 and the police commander, Deputy Commissioner Francis Tokura, told Don Wiseman that ahead of this law and order has to be established.
FRANCIS TOKURA: If we are to achieve everything [inaudible] to make an environment conducive for people to feel free to express their constitutional rights on the referendum - on what they would like Bougainville to be. One of the issues that has come about as a result of this conference is that the leadership already know themselves what the problem is and I think the only problem they have is that they're not getting together to come up with and discuss solutions on how they can address these civil issues. I call it civil because it's basic issues that they can, as chiefs, address instead of letting it come into the hands of police.
DON WISEMAN: You want the chiefs to be dealing with it at village level?
FT: Yes. Yes. But then if it is more serious, then of course they can come to the police station and get assistance from police.
DW: A lot of the problem is there's a lot of crime there, isn't there, and there's a lot of just general lawlessness. Can you just explain what the negative impact would be on the referendum process?
FT: One of the issues is that the national government sees that the environment is not conducive to conduct a referendum it might withdraw or defer the referendum from what it is today. One of the issues is the issue of policing must be conducive. Economically, Bougainville must be sound before the referendum can go ahead. Those are what I was referring to.
DW: And you brought together the chiefs. Was there a good turnout?
FT: Yes. Yes. We have four constituencies in Buin and all the chiefs turned out and they all had similar ideologies on how they can address - I think the only thing is there's probably some leadership issues that we need to address, I told them they need to go back and sit down as chiefs and come up with ideas on how they can resolve some of these issues. And they need to be more responsive to policing on Bougainville, especially in Buin. Because with our police, investors may not want to come in, they might see it as being some risk in there, aid dollars may not want to come in, other agencies may not want to come in if there's lawlessness, if there's little police presence in Buin.
DW: Now you've had, I think for a few months now, a squad of New Zealand police down in South Bougainville. Are they still there?
FT: Yes, they are still here and they are doing a fine job here. I haven't actually had a chance to sit down and talk to them face-to-face officially, we just had an informal discussion yesterday. They are doing what they can, especially a lot of awareness on internal law and order issues themselves.
DW: And they are working with the people who are in the villages themselves, so this work you're talking about with the chiefs would involve the people working with them, wouldn't it?
FT: Yes, I've heard that they are doing quite well working along with the chiefs and I think it just needs more of our own personnel to be more involved as well to take ownership of what the New Zealand police are doing.
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