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New PNG police powers

Wednesday 5 July 2023 | Written by RNZ | Published in Papua New Guinea, Regional


New PNG police powers
A police landcruiser patrols the streets of the Papua New Guinea capital Port Moresby. Photo: RNZ Pacific/ Koroi Hawkins

Papua New Guinea's amended Criminal Code Act will give police the power to deal with what they are calling 'domestic terrorists’, RNZ reports.

The impetus for the new legislation has been the rash of kidnappings carried out in a remote part of the Southern Highlands.

In Bosavi, gangs of youths have captured at least three groups, held them for ransom.

And 17 teenage girls were allegedly raped them.

PNG Police Commissioner, David Manning, said the kidnappings and ransom demands constitute domestic terrorism.

"The amendments establish clear legal process for the escalated use of up to (sic) lethal force, powers of search and seizure, and detention, for acts of domestic terrorism," he said.

"It is high time that we call these criminals domestic terrorists, because that is what they are, and we need harsher measures to bring them to justice one way or another."

In a statement he went on to say domestic terrorism includes the "deliberate use of violence against people and communities to murder, injure and intimidate, including kidnapping and ransoms, and the destruction of properties".

"An accurate definition of domestic terrorism also includes hate crimes, including tribal fights and sorcery-related violence."

Chairman of Transparency International in PNG, Peter Aitsi, said he doubts it will be effective.

He said police already have lethal powers.