By MALUM NALU
CHIEF Secretary Isaac Lupari yesterday announced the establishment of a National Security Joint Task Force to quell increasing internal security threats.
The establishment of the task force followed National Security Advisory Council meetings on Tuesday and yesterday amid threats by members of public and private sector unions, student leaders, landowner leaders, non-government organisations and politicians to disrupt essential services.
“The threats have been to public properties, public safety, as well as disruption to essential services like water supply, power supply, electricity and key infrastructure in the country which are very vital to our economy,” Lupari said yesterday, flanked by Police Commissioner Gari Baki, PNG Defence Force Commander Gilbert Toropo and other members of the NSAC.
“We’ve seen individuals inciting public violence and even inciting public disorder and civil unrest in the country.
“These practices have been very frequent in the country and it’s becoming entrenched in our society.
“These practices are outside the law, in which people have taken the law into their own hands.
“The law provides for people to express themselves freely, the Constitution is very clear in that respect, but those freedoms that we have are qualified rights and freedoms.
“As long as we express those freedoms within the rule of law, then it is good for the country: promoting good governance, culturing a better Papua New Guinea for the next generation.
“But if people are expressing these freedoms outside of the ambit of the law, then it becomes a law and order issue.”
Lupari said services to the people and businesses were being affected because of such behavior.
“If we are continually sending these kinds of message to the public, the general community, the region, it will impact on the way we do business and our economy,” he said.
Lupari said things had come to a head “and we’ve decided that we must put a stop to this practice”.
“If we do not do this, the implications and consequences are far-reaching for us: the lives of our people, our standing in the international community,” he said.
Lupari said the NSAC had looked at the Internal Security Act, Essential Services Act, Criminal Act, Prime Minister and NEC Act, Police Act and others which provided “sufficient legal framework” to deal with threats to the community.
“The committee has now resolved a National Joint Security Task Force under police,” he said.
“This task force will be dealing with all sorts of threats to our national security.
“The task force will be commanded by the police commissioner under his command and control structure.
“It will be supported by the PNG Defence Force, Correctional Service, Attorney-General, National Intelligence Organisation and the Prime Minister’s Department through the National Security Advisory Secretariat.
“The task of this task force will be to investigate any threats to our national security.
“We will be advising the National Executive Council next week of the decisions that we have made and we will make sure it is sufficiently resourced,
“We want to warn people out there that you will be caught and you will be dealt with by the laws of this country.”
By MALUM NALU