Sat, Aug 11, 2018 - Page 6 News List

Rights groups urge probe after PNG police beat teen

‘YEAR OF DISCIPLINE’:The director of police internal affairs said that management had failed to implement a human rights initiative, demonstrating their own issues

The Guardian

Human rights groups have called for an immediate investigation into the brutal beating of a young boy by Papua New Guinean police that was caught on film.

A video of the assault was filmed and this week shared widely on social media, showing armed officers hitting the naked 15-year-old boy with sticks, kicking him in the head and groin, and dragging him along rocks.

Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary (RPNGC) Commissioner Gari Baki said he had ordered a full investigation.

“Police brutality continues to be disregarded by a few officers,” he said.

Elaine Pearson, Australian director at Human Rights Watch, said that was just the first step.

“Authorities should ensure that it is independent and transparent, and that police found responsible are prosecuted,” she said. “This is not just a few bad apples. Police abuse in Papua New Guinea is sadly widespread, and it will only end when abusive officers are held to account for their crimes.”

On Thursday, Papua New Guinean police said that the officers had been suspended.

They were from the Port Moresby-based airborne tactical unit, and were in Kimbe, West New Britain Province, to assist with recent upsurges in crime, police said.

Provincial commander John Midi said he was not aware of the incident until he saw it on social media, adding that the boy had allegedly attempted to rob a young woman prior to the police assault.

The matter has been referred to an internal affairs unit, he said.

The director of police internal affairs, Robert Ali, said police management had failed to implement the commissioner’s declared “year of discipline” since last year, covering human rights and police functions, which demonstrated their own issues with personnel and discipline.

Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop said she would speak to her Papua New Guinean counterpart about the incident, which showed the need for Australia’s continuing presence in the country and assistance of the nation’s police force and government.

Papua New Guinean Minister of Police Jelta Wong said he had tasked Baki with taking “appropriate action against the perpetrators.”

“Whether they were in full uniform or not, they abused the privilege and honor of wearing a RPNGC uniform and the government’s one-strike policy still stands,” Wong said.

Papua New Guinean police officers have been accused of, or found to engage in, acts of brutality in the past, including a 2014 incident also caught on film in which officers used police dogs on an unarmed man.

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