24 May 2005

NZ tries to secure safe return of its officers to PNG's Bougainville province

7:20 am on 24 May 2005

New Zealand officials will meet the head of the police for the Papua New Guinea province of Bougainville today to establish if it's safe for the New Zealand police contingent to go back there.

Five community police officers in the province flew to Port Moresby a week ago after rumours that a Meekamui leader wanted to kill a foreign policeman.

Their retreat came just two days after the Australian police contingent withdrew from the province because of a legal deadlock over their deployment.

The New Zealand High Commissioner in Port Morseby, Laurie Markes, says he and the head of the NZ police team, Inspector Bazz Bailey, will reassess the security situation on the province, along with Assistant Commissioner Bemu.

"When you're talking about threats specifically against the lives of people, one has to be absolutely sure that the situation is safe before you put people back."

Mr Markes says he'll make a recommendation to the New Zealand Police Commissioner Rob Robinson after the meeting.