Senior police officer breached rights: Court

The Waigani Human Rights Court has found a senior police officer in breach of human rights following a raid in Tabubil 20 years ago.

Human rights judge, Justice David Cannings, found former Tabubil Police Station Commander, Kami Yanjuan, to have breached some serious human rights laws when he and his men raided the house of a Bruno Yara.  

The plaintiff, Yara, with his wife had alleged that the first defendant, Yanjuan, and other members of the Police Force were involved in five incidents in which their human rights were breached.

They listed forced entry and search of plaintiff’s home without a warrant and destruction of property, unlawful arrest and detention and assault of the plaintiff and his two sons.

Police had raided the plaintiff’s private residence at 2:30 in the morning on Friday 24th of July 1998, while the plaintiff was asleep, after suspecting that the plaintiff’s sons were involved in a major bank robbery in Tabubil the previous day.

The defendants in the matter, including the State, had denied all these claims, and told the Court that the search and entry of the plaintiff’s home was justified as police were in immediate pursuit of members of the plaintiff’s family who were implicated in the bank robbery.

Court however, found that police had raided the plaintiff’s house 13 hours after the robbery following a tip off and were not in immediate pursuit as claimed.

Justice Cannings said police had sufficient time to obtain a search warrant.

Based on section 44 of the Constitution, “freedom arbitrary search and entry”, and section 5 (5) of the Search Act, he upheld two of the plaintiff’s claims, that police had unlawfully entered the plaintiff’s house without a proper warrant and that the plaintiff and his sons were unlawfully arrested and detained.

Lawyer representing Yara said they will now file for damages from the State in a separate hearing.

Charmaine Poriambep