Fact Check: AFP response to media reporting on our role in PNG

The Australian Federal Police would like to respond to a media report published on 23 November 2015 regarding the AFP’s role in Papua New Guinea.

The AFP is aware of the allegations raised by the AFP member which are extremely concerning. The AFP, at all times, takes any issue raised by its members deployed in foreign missions seriously.

The AFP has not received any official reports from its deployed members in PNG that the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary (RPNGC) has been involved in murders, however, the AFP is aware of claims of this nature in social and general media. The AFP is also aware of claims by members of the public and media outlets relating to instances of alleged misconduct by the RPNGC.

The AFP received a large amount of material from the member in both July 2015 and September 2015 relating to a number of matters during his deployment in PNG during 2013 and 2014. The AFP has reviewed this material and has not identified any matters requiring further action by the AFP.

The operating environment in PNG is difficult and the nature of the AFP work is extremely challenging. However, the AFP considers ongoing positive engagement with police at the frontline and an open dialogue with the RPNGC executive, as the most effective way to encourage and advance progress on human rights and accountability in the PNG police service.

It is important to emphasise that the AFP does not have the jurisdiction to conduct any investigations in Papua New Guinea. Although our members are in uniform, PNG-Australian Police Partnership (APP) officers undertake advisory roles only and do not exercise police powers themselves.

The focus of the APP in PNG is on coaching, mentoring and influencing the delivery of policing services across the RPNGC in accordance with the rule of law. Independent assessments of the rule of law in PNG only highlight the ongoing necessity of the AFP supporting police development.

Should deployed AFP members become aware of allegations relating human rights abuse or criminal conduct of any kind, there are well-established protocols and guidelines in place for such conduct to be reported to senior AFP management.

The AFP does not tolerate, participate in, encourage or condone the use of torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment of any individual or group for any purpose.

The AFP in PNG raises concerns about the conduct of the police in PNG with the senior executive of the RPNGC on an as required basis.

As part of ongoing and regular discussions with RPNGC senior executive, the AFP suggests strategies for change and improvement to support the development of an accountable and professional police service.

Ultimately, the AFP is confident that its presence in PNG over the past two years has had a positive impact within the RPNGC.

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