PNG PM taken to task over transnational crime

6:16 pm on 25 April 2018

A Papua New Guinea MP has taken prime minister Peter O'Neill to task about transnational crime.

Speaking at last week's Commonwealth summit in London, Mr O'Neill called for international efforts to combat transnational crime, which he said was threatening the sovereignty of countries like PNG.

But MP and Governor of Oro province Garry Juffa said if Mr O'Neill was serious about the problem, PNG would not be one of only nine countries not to have signed the UN Convention against Transnational Organised Crime.

Gary Juffa, PNG

Gary Juffa, PNG Photo: Supplied

MPs hell-bent on making quick money have long made it easy for transnational criminals to get access to, and exploit, PNG, Mr Juffa said.

"And unless we change this, we're going to still be ripped off. Our forest resources, our marine resources, every other natural resource you could think about is at great risk. And who is at the gateway, who is holding the door to our country? That's right... members of parliament and public servants."

The prime minister's comments to Commonwealth leaders last week acknowledged that transnational crime was a problem that emerging economies such as PNG often lacked capacity to fully counter.

"There are also foreign companies that come to exploit, to take advantage of evolving and sometimes weak financial regulator regimes, and immigration and labour laws," Mr O'Neill said.

"It's important that our governments commit to addressing transnational crime and provide a safe and secure environment for all who live in the Commonwealth."

PNG had enacted several laws to deal with the proceeds of crimes, to prosecute the corrupt, as well as new legislation to deal with cyber crimes, forced labour, modern slavery and human trafficking, Mr O'Neill said.

Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau and Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull with Peter O'Neill.

Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau and Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull with Peter O'Neill. Photo: supplied

But PNG's agencies mandated to fight transnational crimes were under-resourced or disempowered, said Mr Juffa, who recommended a number of steps PNG should urgently take to combat organised crime.

These included passing legislation such as the Rackateer Influenced and Corrupt Organisations Act in the US, and establishing a National Investigation Bureau-type body tasked solely to investigate and combat transnational crime.

Meanwhile, more transnational criminals were getting into PNG with new schemes to make money off PNG's resources, including those who had been found transgressing in the past, he said.

According to Mr Juffa, the recent re-entry into PNG by a criminal who was deported in 2012, Kevin He Kai, was an example of how transnational crime was allowed to thrive in PNG.

The Chinese man who was linked to theft of containers from PNG's wharfs in the early 2000s, allegedly misled customs officials to recently re-enter on multiple visas.

"They're letting anyone and everyone come into this country, and do whatever they want, to the detriment of our future interests," Mr Juffa said.

"We're going to leave nothing for our future generations. Your children and their children will not only have a country that has no resources, but a country that's going to be so burdened and overlaid with debt, that they're never going to be abelt ot pay that off in their lifetime."