Porgera raid against Ministers advise

The Police raid in Porgera, Enga Province, which led to the death of a Police Officer in went against advice from Police Minister Bryan Kramer.

Kramer said he was informed of the impending raid during his last visit to Porgera and strongly advised against it given the lack of protective gear and training.

He said when he learnt of the death of the police officer he was upset.

Minister Kramer was responding to questions by NCD Governor, Powes Parkop, on the proliferation of guns in tribal communities in rural PNG.

Governor Parkop asked if the Police were investigating the trafficking of high-powered firearms, which are being used to kill police officers, the most recent the death of Timot Kavanamur at Porgera.

Kramer said the raid which led to the death of Constable Kavanamur was advised against when he visited Porgera.

“Prior to the killing I visited Porgera after two officers were attacked in their vehicle at the gate to the Porgera Mine, to assess the situation and to ensure police deployed, some 215, were sufficiently equipped and concerned as well about their safety.

“During a meeting with the company and also those officers that were in group command, we discussed what the situation was and also briefed myself, and then during that discussion there was talk about them carrying out raids in pursuit of those criminals.

“I gave advise opposing that course of action concerned they were not equipped and trained to engage in settlement communities, (and) also concerned about the safety of the public and also concerned about their safety.

"Unfortunately, the advice that I gave which they are not obligated to follow, was not considered and they carried out a raid which resulted in the death of an officer, that could have been avoided.

"And the advice I gave was lets focus on securing the mine, from illegal miners that were coming in. And the discussion with the company was to procure protective equipment like bullet proof vests, and bullet proof helmets, and so they agreed to put those orders. So, when I found out on Sunday morning that an Officer was killed and that they ran operation, I was quite upset,” said Kramer.

Kramer said since then the Police Commissioner has ordered 50 bullet proof vests that sustain high powered weapons and made enquires for an armored vehicle.

Regarding the increasing number of firearms held by tribal communities or gangs, Kramer says he has intelligence of where they are coming from.

“Intelligence coming through is that some of these firearms and ammunition are being supplied by members of our Defence Force, and also some being supplied across borders. But again, these are just brief intelligence, I have yet to see any specific evidence. So, police are now working on that.”

The Police Minister said given the lack of capacity he is focusing on the safety of officers.

“These other areas of discussions we’ve been having this year in year out about illegal firearms so it is certainly a priority under my Ministry, and the Marape-Steven Government, and once we establish command and control and improve the administrative and operational procedures of our police force, I expect these issues to be dealt with prudently.”

Cedric Patjole