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Tuesday 19 January 2016 | Published in Regional

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TOURIST VICTIMS IGNORED TREKKING RULES

PAPUA NEW GUINEA – Papua New Guinea’s Kokoda Track Authority says two tourists attacked near Sogeri lied about their plans and ignored rules and regulations. The British media last week reported that Englishman Matthew Iovane and his American girlfriend Michelle Clemens were stripped and beaten by locals. Clemens had her fingers sliced by a machete. The article included Iovane’s fears that the attackers might be cannibals and they could be eaten. The PNG Post Courier reports a former CEO of the Kokoda Track Authority, William Bartlett, said the two lied on their application, saying they had the porters and the correct numbers to walk the track. Bartlett, who now runs the Sogeri Lodge, says the couple were underprepared and were making unrealistic plans. Police from Port Moresby say they will release a report on the attack.

POLICE CELLPHONE NUMBERS GIVEN OUT

PAPUA NEW GUINEA – A senior Papua New Guinea police officer has publicised the cellphone numbers of local commanders in an effort to address police misconduct and improve community relations. The National Capital District Metropolitan Commander Ben Turi has released more than a dozen numbers, including that of the provincial head Sylvester Kalaut. The move comes after he revealed that 41 Port Moresby officers have been suspended for misconduct since October, and over 1600 complaints of police abuse were reported over a seven year period. Turi says people should start calling commanders directly to make sure complaints are dealt with. He says senior officers should be available at all times. “Policing commanders can be called anytime of the night to assist. We are here to serve our people, regardless of when and what time,” he said.

tourism held back BY ‘stumbling blocks’

AMERICAN SAMOA – A prominent American Samoa hotelier has hit out at what he says are stumbling blocks to improving the territory’s fledgling tourism industry. Thomas Drabble, who owns the Sadies by the Sea and the Sadie Thompson Inn hotels, is the second-largest hotel operator in American Samoa. Appearing before a government committee reviewing his nomination to become a board member for the American Samoa Visitors Bureau, Drabble spoke candidly about the government’s attitude to tourists. “One of the big detriments that we have is the attitude of a lot of our government departments towards the business of tourism.” However, Drabble failed to be appointed to the board after he fell short in the committee vote by one vote. A motion of reconsideration has been filed.

agents warned not to abuse powers

FIJI – Fiji’s Attorney-General has told officers at the Independent Commission Against Corruption that they should not abuse their powers. The Fiji Sun reports that Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum told the gathering of officers that the word ‘FICAC’ instills fear in some Fijians, and that officers have to be responsible with the powers vested in them. He then told the officers that they should not go outside their mandate, and should follow the target of eradicating systemic corruption from the Fiji government. FICAC has come under criticism in recent months for a perceived lack of independence by opposition parties and some NGOs. In November, the opposition leader Ro Teimumu Kepa called for FICAC’s deputy commissioner to resign, accusing the agency of conducting an error-riddled investigation into Sayed-Khaiyum.

fiji ac back at work

FIJI – Fiji police say Assistant Commissioner Henry Brown is expected to be back in the office tomorrow after being sent on leave pending an investigation into what they call a serious in-house matter. Police say the police commissioner, Brigadier-General Sitiveni Qiliho, used powers under the constitution to move against Brown, adding that the constitution is the supreme law superceding the Police Act. The Police Act makes no provisIon for sending an officer on leave but gives the commissioner the power to suspend an officer. A police spokesperson says the investigating team has completed its investigations but will await Brown’s return to work to interview him. Police say once the team has completed its work a decision on further action will be made.