• After 44 years of Independence, the law and order situation in PNG still remains one of the most important development issues. The dilemma being faced is one of Rising Crime and Social Disorder on one hand, and the Ineffective Crime Prevention Capability on the other. Members of the Police Force today are caught in between, and while there are some whom genuinely put in tremendous efforts to address the Law and Order issues on the job, others (ill-disciplined and rogue members) are a big part of the problem.
  • With Police Misconduct Conduct being one of the most prevalent issues affecting law and order in PNG, and the Police being seen as a threat to the community. This then brought about the Police Administrative Review of 2004 which made 62 recommendations, with recommendation 29 being to establish a Police Ombudsman.
  • The Ombudsman Commission (OC) went into a Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) with the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary (RPNGC) in 2004, with the aim of achieving the collaborative vision and objectives of both the OCPNG and the RPNGC in working together in the public interest to restore Accountability, Integrity and Discipline back into the Police Force.
  • The Program was called the Police Oversight Program (POP). Over the year since, the POP has been resulted in a high number of ill-disciplined Police officers being penalized for a number offences (Police misconduct/wrong conduct) they committed under the Criminal Code Act and Police Force Act with them either being; referred for prosecution, convicted, dismissed and disciplined.
  • The then Police Commissioner and Chief Ombudsman both agreed to come up with the idea of the OC Police Oversight Program in 2006, as transitory action to the ongoing problem, until full legislative amendments were made to the Police Act to establish a Police Ombudsman.
  • Our challenge today is that there are increasingly not enough funds from the OC and RPNGC’s recurrent budget to support such important investigation(s).
  • Through the years, the ongoing support from Australian Government’s Aid Program – Justice Services and Stability for Development (JSS4D) has been providing continuous funding assistance to support the Police Oversight Program. This has been vital in continuing the work of the POP, particularly during the last couple of years of the tight financial strains facing the GoPNG’s recurrent budgets to both the OC and RPNGC. We hereby would like to take this opportunity to sincerely thank JSS4D for the continuous support in funding this Program.
  • The POP has indeed been a boost to our Inter Agency Links and encourages wider sectoral approach to addressing prevalent issue of Police Wrong Conduct throughout the country. The implementation of the Program has assisted in achieving the GoPNG Law & Justice Sector’s Goal 1 and 4;
  1. Goal One (1.1) – Rebuild a Professional Police Service that meets all legitimate community expectations; and
  2. Goal Four (4.2) – Ensure Accountability for Corruption and the Abuse and Misuse of Powers.
  • Both the OC and Police Internal Investigations Division (IAD) through the course of our work share knowledge, expertise, money, time, effort and learn best practises from each other.
  • The OC being specialized in Administrative and Leadership investigations have little experience on Criminal Investigations, hence our officers’ whom participate pick up a thing or two from our counterparts at the Police IAD whom specialize in that field.
  • Our officers’ have also benefited in participating in Police Investigations Training programs. Through our work we have come to understand other legislation like the Criminal Code, Police Force Act, Judges Rules, and basic Human Rights (Constitutional Rights of a Person) amongst others.
  • The following are some of the highlights of the Ombudsman Police Oversight Program;
  1. Disposed a large number of high profile cases within a minimal time;
  2. Greater Accountability – OC’s presence serves to keep a Check-and-Balance on each the integrity of the Investigations of the IAD. In the past the IAD were perceived by the public as not being independent of the RPNGC and that their investigations being compromised when conducting investigating their fellow members;
  • But through our combined efforts this has seen large number of Police personnel throughout the country being arrested and charged, some dismissed, while some prosecuted and are now serving their sentences in prison. Minor offences has resulted in some being administratively charged by way of suspensions, fines, demotions, and restrictions to carrying firearms and vehicles.
  • Over the years, we have taken note that as a result of the fine work of the POP, a high number of our counterparts at the Police IAD have been promoted in recognition of their outstanding work. This has been evident on a number of occasions where the Police Commissioner when issuing the Notices on Promotions; a high number of members and officers whom gained promotions were from the Police Internal Affairs Directorate.
  • The OC’s involvement with Police IAD is only to provide funding support and to provide oversight to ensure the IAD does their job professionally without fear or favour.
  • Being entirely Criminal Investigations, our counterparts at Police IAD always take the lead in the POP and are involved in all investigation processes and deeds. While OC Officers are there only to be part of the team  to provide Oversight and importantly – serve as a deterrent to any possible instances of  interference and intimidation by members and their Senior Police Hierarchy who may want to interrupt our Investigations.
  • High Profile Investigations into Police Wrong Conduct in most cases involves Serious Criminal behaviour by implicated members (Unlawful Shooting, Murder, Rape and Sexual Assaults, Grievous Bodily Harm, Arson, Loss/Sale of Firearms and Ammunition, Escape from Lawful Custody and Stealing). The OC’s oversight presence is to ensure that the particular offender (accused Police officer) is dealt with both Administratively (Police Force Act and RPNGC Commissioners Operational/Administrative Orders) and Criminally (Criminal Code Act).
  • our High Profile cases’ initial investigations normally takes up to two (2) weeks at the most due to the considerable time it takes to collect evidence, interview witnesses and write up reports. This subsequently results in the arrests and charges of offender(s) which is normally done within that initial investigation period.
  • The next stage is the Preparation and Serving of Courts files, which by Law, the investigator/arresting officer has to serve the court document within a Reasonable Time, which by Practice in PNG, has to be served within three (3) months. The case files must be served at the Magisterial Courts for Committal Hearings.
  • The National Court Trials in PNG, normally takes up to two (2) to three (3) years to conclude a verdict. As the saying goes here, “we are at the mercy of the Judges’ Schedule”. Meaning that Judges normally are placed into the Court schedules depending on their case loads and availability into a Province, before the issue of Court Notices appear for the National Court Proceedings.
  • Experiences; Based on our participation in the initial investigation process, the Police members on the ground, most times, are cooperative. Particularly the Divisional Heads like the Divisional Commanders, Provincial Police Commanders and Assistant Police Commissioners, whom co-operate well with us all throughout the entire investigation process, which has really assisted us in completing the case on time. However, there have been instances where it has been difficult to gain the members’ co-operation; where they have put up resistance, temper with evidence and information, issue threats to State witnesses to not come forward and give evidence at the Courts and our investigators. A common practise has been where the accused Police member intentionally backtracks on every trail of evidence so as to not leave behind any trace, in their attempts at making it very difficult for our POP team in conducting an effective and efficient investigation. In such scenarios, it requires extra time, effort, money and the skill and experience of the IIU investigator to conduct a thorough investigation.
  • The success rate of our investigations so far has been very high, close to above 90% success rate. Because in almost all the investigation trips we have taken, we managed to complete nearly all the cases by having the offenders arrested and charged.