27 Jul 2004

PNG Minister says corruption is rife in the police force while officers earn meagre salaries

6:36 am on 27 July 2004

Papua New Guinea's Internal Security Minister, Bire Kimisopa, says corruption in the police force is rife, with officers selling ammunition on the black market to subsidise meagre salaries.

Mr Kimispoa says corruption and incompetence in middle management of the country's police force has taken a heavy toll on PNG society, and is driving its citizens to live behind razor wire and security guards.

He says the force continues to lapse into moonlighting and the indiscriminate sale of ammunition to the public at considerable cost to society.

Mr Kimisopa says PNG police are living and working in very difficult circumstances, with meagre salaries and poor accommodation adding to the problems.

Most of PNG's police officers receive about 5 thousand US dollars a year to tackle increasing violence in areas such as the capital Port Moresby and the Western Highlands

He warns of a complete breakdown of PNG society and the economy unless the government committed to full-scale reform of the police force and the rehabilitation of police officers.

Australia will send a contingent of 230 police officers to Papua New Guinea in the coming weeks under a 640-million-US-dollar program to restore law and order to the troubled nation.