Tribal fights prompt calls for action in PNG's Enga
The police commander in Papua New Guinea's Enga province has asked the government to declare a tribal fighting zone after a spate of killings.
The police commander in Papua New Guinea's Enga province has asked the government to declare a tribal fighting zone after a spate of deaths.
Superintendent George Kakas says 15 people from various tribes have been killed near the Porgera mine in the past two weeks.
He told Jamie Tahana that if a tribal fighting zone is declared it will give the police the power to search, confiscate and arrest without the need for warrant.
GEORGE KAKAS: People are fearful of walking around because these killings were random attacks, they are not related to any tribal fight. The first killing wasn't a tribal fight matter, so that's why it's put fear into the general public in Porgera.
JAMIE TAHANA: So if they're not related to any tribal fights, what would declaring it a tribal fighting zone do?
GK: Because so many tribes are now involved. The killing that took place last week on Thursday was a pay-back killing in relation to an earlier murder incident which occurred in 2012, two people were killed and burned in a house and two weeks ago the two tribes gathered to pay compensation. Unfortunately one of the clan that was paying compensation decided to take the law into its own hands and some of the tribesmen in that particular clan lured the victims with alcohol and they shot him and hacked him with bushknives and machetes. These tribesmen then retaliated and killed anyone randomly in that part of the area in Porgera. So people who were first killed, seven of them, they were all from different tribes and different localities so we've got many tribes now involved. I know that there will be an escalation with all these tribes taking up arms, that's why I've asked the Law and Order Committee to declare a tribal fighting zone in the area so that we can address the problem quickly. It's not directly related to the mine, but what I can say is that there's a lot of cash flowing around in relation to illegal gold mining. With the cash, they have access to alcohol, they have access to buying guns so you have all these things flowing around.
JT: So the illegal mining is funding this tribal warfare, basically?
GK: Well I could say it could be part of it, because you know there's a lot of cash coming out of that you know. So I could say yes because it's not spent wisely -- it's spent of buying alcohol, guns and drugs -- which is all fuelling the problem.
JT: Isn't a state of emergency already in force in this area?
GK: Currently there is a callout by the national government to curb illegal mining. So the primary role of the callout is to curb the illegal mining in the valley, but there are also other law and order problems such as illegal smuggling of alcohol, drug abuse and all that.
JT: OK so a tribal fighting declaration would be different. So what would such a declaration allow you as a police force to do?
GK: It will commit more powers for us to arrest without a search warrant, powers to arrest people for loitering, people carrying offensive weapons like bushknives. It will give me a wide range of powers to go into any area without restriction and arrest people for mere suspicion that they are about to commit an offence.
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