Weekly Commentaries

This is Sunday Chronicle's weekly commentaries on various issues of interest affecting the country. All individual commentators are done by elite Papua New Guineans from diverse educational backgrounds.

Monday, July 22, 2013



Discipline the Undisciplined Force

By JACK ASSA

The increase in the indiscipline acts by disciplined forces like Defence, Police and Correction Services Officers will not go unrecorded in the history of this country. The increase in the misbehavior, undisciplined and criminal acts by the disciplined forces this year, reflects the lack of direction, control and command in the respective discipline forces. 

The misbehavior of the disciplined forces has tarnished the good name of the organization they represent. Every time, we hear CIS officers facilitating prisoners to escape, police brutalizing and robbing ordinary citizens, country’s flag bearers, the defence force going on rampage, burning and looting of shops and dormitories are an act of few undisciplined cowards that must be highly denounced. These comments, which were wide spread, received little, if any, attention this year. This is a problem that that has continued throughout these days. 

Why would our disciplined forces do that? Is it because they only get six months to one year training or is it because the recruitment of people with attitude problem? There is a fault somewhere that must be fixed for the protection of the people and image of the organization the serve and the state as a whole. 

People need the disciplined forces. It is part of the framework that makeup the state. Without the disciplined forces, lives of the people will be under threat, certain or whole the government objectives and policies will not be implemented, and the tugs and criminals will invade and illegal human trafficking and border crossing problem will rise. Hence, this country needs disciplined forced who are well trained, educated, behaved and respected people and not drug users, alcoholics, half criminals etc. These institutions apply proper thinking and quick accurate judgment as to when they should apply force. 

As far as the people are concerned, the disciplined forces are very important because they play a crucial functions and responsibilities within the community. In saying this, the police are trained to protect the people and their properties. Similarly, the DF are trained to defend the state against armed aggression; this being a contingency, preparation for its implementation will depend on an ongoing Government assessment of threats. In addition, DF are supposed to participate in multinational peace support, crisis management and humanitarian relief operations in support of the United Nations (UN) and under UN mandate, including regional security missions authorized by the UN. And the correction services officers are trained to look after prisoners, by correcting, training and shaping them to become better and productive citizens when they come out of prison after serving their terms. In saying this, the disciplined forces cannot use arm against the very citizens they swore in and took oath to protect and defend. If they do, this is a government sponsored attack on its citizens. 

In order to carry out their functions, the disciplined forces are provided with Rules of Engagement (ROE). Although ROE is common in military, it does applies to other disciplined forces. The ROE are rules or directives to the disciplined forces (including individuals) that define the circumstances, conditions, degree, and manner in which force, or actions which might be construed as provocative, may be applied. They provide authorization for and/or limits on, among other things, the use of force and the employment of certain specific capabilities. In some nations, ROE have the status of guidance to military forces, while in other nations, ROE are lawful commands. ROE do not normally dictate how a result is to be achieved but will indicate what measures may be unacceptable. 

While ROE are used in both domestic and international operations by most militaries, most countries including United States, ROE are not used for domestic operations. Instead, use of force by disciplined forces in such situations is governed by Rules for the Use of Force (RUF). There is no doubt that PNG should have RUF for the disciplined forces. However, the way things are going in this country clearly portrays that the disciplined forces have lost their minds, hence, using brutal force against the people they stand to protect and defend.

In addition, the disciplined forces must be aware of their behavior in public and remember that they represent an organization with a good reputation and image. When they are outside barracks or stations either on operational duty or training or just on time-off it will be essential that they are conscious that they represent the organisation and that they behave in a manner appropriate to the disciplined organization. 

Unacceptable behavior refers to behavior which a reasonable person, having regard to all of the circumstances, would consider offensive, humiliating or intimidating. This includes actions which are belittling, abusive or threatening to another person, adverse to morale, discipline or workplace cohesion, or otherwise not in the interest of the disciplined force.

Members of the armed forces are expected to be of the highest calibre, both physically and ethically, therefore it is hoped that each organization has put in place a number of regulations which impact on the lifestyle of the personnel. All the members of the disciplined forces are required to conform to the rules, laws and obligations as defined within their respective force discipline Act.

Our country major prisons are absolutely vulnerable. Not because the walls and fences to prevent the escape of prisoners are broken but the very people who supposed to discipline them, providing the necessary skills and shape them to become good citizens when leaving the gate justly, turn to leave gates open, facilitating wanted and dangerous criminals to walk out easily and freely. An obvious example could be the escape of convicted rapist, murderer and bank robber William Kapris twice from the state’s largest Bomana Prison. Even after the government spent millions of tax payers’ money to arrest the convict, the disciplined officers find it very easy to show the high risked prisoner, the door way to freedom.

Not only that, our men in blue uniforms brutalized 74 men, severely wounding and told to walk all the way to Gordon police station which is a violation of human rights. This incident followed by the robbery of Konedobu liquor store by few rogue disciplined forces under the influence of alcohol. They walked away with cartoons of beer and forced the owner to give them money to save some beer cartoons. Likewise, six police officers forced their way into the shop in full police uniform, entered the room of the shop manager and removed about K20,000 leaving the store to close for four days at Malalaua station in Gulf Province. In another case, we heard a young man died in the hands of the undisciplined forces in Lorengau and one young aspiring student in Lae being shot dead last month. 

Equally, we saw couple of times the military personnel went on rampage by attacking civilians, looting stores, burning state facilities and wounding innocent people. A fine example is the attack at the Medical Faculty of the University of Papua New Guinea. Soldiers in battle gear raided the General hospital and the medical facility wounding many innocent students. Many witness described the incident as frightening when the defense force personnel made war cries and fired warning shots. This was a war between the armed force and the unarmed civilians. 

What is truly disturbing is that only one or two officers are suspended and the rest walk away freely, which is a slap on the face of the victims. How can this be when truck loads of officers going on rampage and only one or two being suspended? A tendency of protecting the rest regardless of the damage they contributed and only one or two being singled out and disciplined is absolutely unacceptable. “If you cannot investigate within your section and organisation, the outside world is too big for you”. 

The commanding and investigative officers must be serious rotting out what we see as a problem in this country. Without reservation, ill and rogue officers must be condemned at highest possible terms and that is by showing them the door out. The people cannot continue to tolerate such cruel undisciplined forces. They supposed to be leading by example rather than posing threats on the lives of the ordinary people. This gives another option for civilians to arm and defend themselves from not just civilian criminals but rude and state sponsored criminal force.

The man and women in Uniform Blue, Green or Brown, you have an obligation to protect the people. Continuous misbehaving and criminal acts posed a threats on the ordinarily lives of the people who are already being traumatized and in fear. Now people have to have double eyes for not just ordinary criminals but state sponsored criminals. 

Having said that, the majority of the personnel in the disciplined forces are of high moral standing and worthy to be respected while only a handful of bad apples go around tarnishing the good name of their organization. Therefore, these rotten apples need to be seriously disciplined for the sake of the people, organization they serve and the state as a whole. God bless Papua New Guinea.

The writer is undertaking postgraduate studies and living in Indonesia. For comments and feedbacks, he can be contacted on jackassa945@gmail.com (email) / +081273238217 (Mobile Phone).

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