This is the stance taken by the Catholic Bishops Conference regarding the amended APEC Safety and Security Act 2018.
The Catholic Bishops Conference says over the years, there have been a number of special operations and in all of those operations, there have been concerns about the infringement of basic human rights, as set out in the Constitution of Papua New Guinea.
“Section 38 of the Constitution acknowledges that there can be restrictions to basic rights and freedoms,” says CBC.
“However, it is necessary to specify the right or freedom that is restricted and show that such a restriction is in the public interest; and that such a restriction is reasonably justifiable in a democratic society, having regard for human dignity.
“When one looks at past experience it appears that the actions of the disciplined forces have been the cause of many court cases and expressions of concern of human rights groups such as Amnesty International. For example, there were many concerns raised about the defence forces during the Bougainville Crisis.
“The action of some in the disciplined forces in normal operations also gives rise for concern. There have been a number of court decisions concerning this – cases that have involved burning of villages and assaulting and killing of innocent people.
“Any law to try and give disciplined and security forces immunity could be indirectly justifying such actions and possibly the killing of innocent people.
“This can in no way be justified in a democratic society. Whether they are national or foreign forces, the lives and welfare of innocent people must be guaranteed and security forces should be accountable. That is why the intention to introduce legislation for immunity and no restrictions for security forces gives rise to serious concern.”