IN a democratic nation as such as Papua New Guinea, the function of the police as a law enforcing agency is vital to ensure that the rule of law prevails.
To enable the police to effectively discharge their mandated functions they are authorised by law to possession and use firearms and to use reasonable force where necessary to maintain peace and order in the community.
But the exercise of their powers must be in accordance with the law.
That is the whole reason why the police are made to swear allegiance to the Constitution when they first join the force.
It is of utmost importance that the police must remain free from outside influence. The independence of the police from outside control is preserved and protected by the Constitution.
The Constitution is clear and the courts have made is more clearer in case law precedents that the Police Commissioner is independent even from the Minister for Police, let alone the National Executive Council and the Prime Minister.
There is an obvious reason for protecting and preserving the independence of the police, which is necessary to ensure that the government does not control the police.
The moment the independence of the police is lost is the moment the civil rights of the people become paper promises.
Sadly in PNG, the independence of the police has seemingly vanished.
The police hierarchy and machinery appear to be serving the Government, particularly the Office of the Prime Minister above and over the law.
We have skidded down the most undesired path in policing in this country.
Legally we remain a democratic nation but practically we have already become a police state.
What is paper compared to action? Does not action speak louder than words?
Take a look at what the Government and police are saying in the newspapers following the shooting.
The police say they will probe the funding of the UPNG students.
Don’t they realise that his is not just a student issue? Who are they trying to fool?
This is a serious issue of firearms being used to suppress the constitutional right of freedom of expression.
People are being threatened for exercising their constitutional rights.
Correct me if I’m wrong but I understand that the police rules of engagement are that they are permitted to use firearms to protect themselves if they are being fired at.
The students have been raising some legitimate issues. Their demand for the Prime Minister to step down is genuine because he is considered unfit to hold the highest office in government because of the serious allegations against him.
Are the students not trying to protect the future of the sons and daughters of the police and the military as well?
I humbly call on every law abiding police officer to ruleto stand up for what you believe is right.
This is our country. Only we can make it better. The angels will not do it for us. We have damaged it and we must be responsible for fixing it.
Former UPNG SRC President-2012