The first 30 Australian Federal Police (AFP) officers to be deployed to Papua New Guinea (PNG) under a new agreement have arrived in Port Moresby.
The AFP officers will provide frontline advisory support to the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary in a bid to strengthen effective and visible policing in Port Moresby and later in PNG’s second largest city, Lae.
Another group of AFP officers will arrive before the end of the year to bring the total number engaged in PNG to 50.
“The goal of our enhanced mission is, in partnership with the RPNGC, to continue to develop the capacity of the RPNGC to provide sustainable and quality policing to the people of PNG,” AFP Commissioner Tony Negus said in a statement.
“I would like to particularly thank Commissioner Kulunga, whose support to the PNG-APP has been fundamental to its recent success. Without his strong leadership and vision for the future of policing in Papua New Guinea, all of this would not have been possible.”
PNG Police commissioner Tom Kulunga told local officers the newcomers would be giving advice and training only.
“The AFP officers are not here to take your jobs, nor will they undertake executive policing functions or arrest or charge any person for an offence against PNG laws,” Mr Kulunga said.
“Together and in partnership and cooperation we can make our world a safer, secure and better place.”
Australia has had police in PNG in the past but they were kicked out by the PNG Supreme Court in 2006 after it was found their role was unconstitutional.
Prime Minister Peter O’Neill and former Australian counterpart Kevin Rudd announced the deployment in September, the Australian government pledging to fund up to 150 police officers.
The deployment, led by Commander Alan Scott, complements Australia’s $35 million support this year for broader law and justice system improvements that are increasing access to justice in PNG.