The National, Thursday 30th May 2013
We will give credit where it is due.
And a big one goes to Police Commissioner Tom Kulunga for his quick action and tough stance against rogue policemen and women in the Royal PNG Constabulary.
Yesterday, he ordered the suspension and arrest of a policeman allegedly involved in the wounding of a large group of civilians near the Jackson Airport last Sunday.
We believe two others are at large and we are certain the commissioner will get them yet.
We are much encouraged that the commissioner does not act on his own.
Senior police officers who witnessed the brutal and unwarranted assault on the civilians raised their concern.
The Gordon police station commander, Insp John Tarur, expressed his indignation and concern and immediately released the wounded men to hospital instead of holding them in his cells for carrying offensive weapons in public.
Another officer took pictures of the wounded and alerted the commissioner and media to this heavy-handed and illegal wounding by policemen.
The majority of the police force, we are certain, are of this mould – loyal, committed, sworn to uphold the law and protect the citizens of this country.
They carry out this mission with dedication and often under most trying of circumstances.
Their training, equipment and terms of employment are not the best and we feel for them.
To these people we only have praise.
Only a few bad apples spoil the good name of the RPNGC and those bad apples must be singled out and thrown out.
The people of Papua New Guinea, it must be said at this juncture, can be most obstinate and often test the patience of even the most patient officer.
Most often they deserve the beating that is visited upon them.
Take for instance a plea by the police for tribal animosities to settle down.
In front of police, grown men tearfully shake hands, burn a few weapons and promise never to fight.
Hours later they are at it again.
These people deserve the “scourge earth” policy that police often apply, particularly in the Highlands region.
Still, there can be no reason whatsoever – except perhaps insanity – for a group of policemen to stop a group of people, order them at gun point to lie face down on the ground and progressively slash their heels with bush knives.
We are told between 50 and 70 men suffered such a fate.
It just is not normal and could not have been perpetrated by normal policemen.
The police commissioner said more policemen were also believed to be involved in the assault and wounding.
Kulunga added that they would be dealt with both administratively and criminally.
“The alleged actions of the policemen are totally unbelievable,” he said.
“We have no place for such evil and brutal policemen or women.
“We are police officers and we have sworn an oath to protect and serve, not abuse and insult, maim or kill.”
We are further gladdened that Kulunga called a special meeting yesterday with senior police officers including Deputy Commissioner Operations Simon Kauba and Deputy Commissioner Administration Awan Sete where he demanded immediate police action over outstanding issues such as the fatal shooting of a young girl allegedly by police in Port Moresby, the downtown Port Moresby “fan belt” beating of a female shown on national television and the baseball bat police assault of a street vendor.
Under his watch, we have seen more policemen and women being disciplined, demoted and dismissed from the force. This is praiseworthy.
He has said nobody is above the law and this especially applies to those who are charged with enforcing the law.
This gives us hope that the fight against crime is on the right footing.
Kulunga deserves all the support he can get in this fight and that means that the public ought to report any illegal action by police officers.
The people of Papua New Guinea finally have a friend who will listen to their pleas of unwarranted police brutality.