Commissioner of Police David Manning has called upon the leaders of the Goilala and Hela people to take ownership of and end the ethnic clash in the nation’s capital.
Mr Manning said the recent ethnic clash has caused so much fear and anxiety within the community in the National Capital District over the last three days.
“Whilst Police is out on the streets of Port Moresby to prevent further blood-shed and keep the peace, real and lasting peace and normalcy can be restored with the assistance of the leadership of both groups at the family, clan, tribal, ward, district, provincial and national levels.
“These ethnic clashes have been going on for some time now between various ethnic groups within the NCD and also in other parts of the country. We need to seriously look into these clashes and identify the underlying causes. Whilst drugs and alcohol may be contributing factors, there could be other reasons as well.
“Law and order is not an exclusive police responsibility but is everyone’s business. So leaders at all levels of society must step up and take responsibility,” Mr Manning said.
Mr Manning, who is also the Controller of the PNG COVID-19 National Pandemic Response said the COVID-19 pandemic has claimed the lives of 115 people and infected over 10,000. He said health facilities around the country are overwhelmed with addressing COVID-19 and ongoing health concerns and the last thing they need are additional patients injured from these ethnic clashes.
“These ongoing ethnic clashes are symptoms of serious underlying problems within our country and we all need to address them instead of expecting them to go away. Police are currently playing a fireman’s role and we are under resourced and do not have the numbers to keep up this role. Society at large needs to step up and accept that they have a shared responsibility to law and order as well,” Mr Manning said.
In the meantime Mr Manning said as a short-term solution an option currently being discussed with the government is a state of emergency for NCD.
For the long-term Mr Manning suggested revisiting other proposals such as the reintroduction of the Vagrancy Act, but this time as a provision under a proposed Internal Protection and Security Act.
“What is happening around the country should serve as a warning to all of us that things are not right and we need to start planning now and put in place better laws, systems and structures for a better future,” Mr Manning said.