Police whistleblower details PNG abuses
An Australian police whistleblower says he has seen killings and other crimes in PNG but the Australian Government is turning a blind eye.
An Australian police whistleblower says he has seen killings and other crimes in Papua New Guinea but the Australian Government is turning a blind eye.
Federal officer Brad Turner is on leave in Brisbane with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, after serving in PNG from late 2013 for a year.
It hasn't stopped him from speaking out about what he claims he saw corrupt PNG police doing, backed with Australian taxpayer funds.
Mr Turner told Karen Brown he observed the destructions of a squatter settlement called Butibum in Lae in Morobe Province.
BRAD TURNER: The local government had said that a lot of settlements were quote unquote illegal now. And whilst there are some illegal settlements in PNG a lot of highlanders coming down looking for work, you know, there's no social security, so they set up shanty type towns. This wasn't one of those, this was actually quite a well established community. And they purchased the land off the government some 30 years earlier. Unfortunately the corrupt government and power of the time had deemed those deeds of sale illegal and had decried that their settlement was illegal and they were going to evict these people. So it was a good community, there weren't any real problems. They were good citizens, most of them held jobs and then literally the next day when I came down to see it, I was standing on the bridge and I could see bulldozers pushing houses in the piles and directly into the river, and people scurrying trying to save what building materials and belongings they could.
KAREN BROWN: Who was doing that?
BT: The Morobe provincial government, their department of works were doing that, the actual destruction. And they were using heavy machinery that was being donated through aid packages over the years. They had a very, very large collection of heavy machinery that had been donated through aid packages over the years. They had a very, very large collection of heavy machinery that was donated through aid goods. Particularly in Morobe, the road network was horrendous.
KB: You say some of the villagers in Butibum were killed because they wouldn't get out of the way.
BT: I was told that, yes.
KB: You didn't see it.
KB: You have made official complaints to the Australian Federal Police. What have you said to your employer about what you have seen?
BT: I have given them all the evidence I took because at the time we had no IT infrastructure. When I realised that the reporting was being sanitised, I then took an evidential copy of it because I feared that the reality of what was occurring up there was going to be sanitised.
KB: They basically didn't take it on board?
BT: They took it on board but they seemed very aware of the political implications. It was more about reputation management and keeping PNG government happy by not painting them in a bad light then actually addressing the major issues that they had, to protect our interests up there, namely Manus Island.
KB: The Australian government wouldn't want to upset PNG because it wants to maintain the Manus Island detention centre?
BT: Yeah, that was paramountly obvious to us.
KB: The AFP, your employer, has said it has reviewed reports from you and hasn't found any matters requiring further action.
BT: That's just them covering their backside essentially. Every time I raised it at each level I was just shut down so I continued to raise it. At the end of the day I became a police officer because I wanted to make a difference and do the right thing. And to see our government acting in such an overtly political matter and the police doing the same that was just against my core values as a person and as a police officer.
KB: Now Gary Baki, who is the PNG police commissioner he says your claims about the Butibum eviction for example as well as other things are rubbish and a pack of lies. He is also questioning your mental health. What is your response to what he says?
BT: I think commissioner Baki is actually a very good officer, I think he has inherited a very violent police force and I think of all people he is the one who is most likely to make a positive effective change up there in relation to how some of his officers are acting. But at the end of the day I know as with the AFP it is reputation management and if Mr Baki claims that my claims are lies then I would ask him to explain the photographs of the executed prisoners. I would ask him to explain the photographs of the horribly overcrowded cells. I would ask him to explain the photographs and reporting of his officers being involved in the clearing of settlements and destruction of peoples homes that I hold. Because he can't because that is the truth and I have got the evidence to back it up. He is just merely trying to save face and he is trying to protect his organisation that he knows has problems that he is trying to address. But unfortunately he is doing so in a political environment and PNG is a very proud country there are some fantastic officers up there and it is the one thing that was neglected in the lot of reporting that I did make a point of saying but it didn't seem to make it to the air is that there are some great officers out there trying very very hard to do a very very difficult job in a difficult environment. But they are being let down by small groups within the RPNGC who are essentially criminal gangs.
Transparency PNG says often PNG police moonlight and it is on such occasions that, in the past, they have been involved in extreme violence, including extra-judicial killings.
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