Thursday 06th June 2023

Police Commissioner David Manning has renewed calls for the introduction of a vagrancy act following the recent spate of violence in the National Capital District and other parts of the country.

The call from Mr Manning comes after a total of 56 persons were arrested by NCD police for their alleged involvement in Monday’s riot at Koki, in the National Capital District. The 56 suspects were arrested on Tuesday and detained at the Badili Police Station cells.

Mr Manning said there is an alarming increase in violent crimes and especially ethnic-based violence within the National Capital District.

“This is very concerning, and whilst the causes for the increase in these violent crimes are varied and many, I am sure everyone wants to put an immediate end to this.

“Given the situation, the best option now is to bring in the vagrancy act. This can temporarily address the violence that is spiraling out of control especially within our urban areas until more permanent solutions are identified and activated.

“We have a constant stream of people coming into the city who have no money, no jobs and nowhere to stay. They come here to look for a better life or to escape violence back in their own villages. However, it is not different here in the city.

The tough economic times are forcing people into all kinds of activities, both legal and illegal as well.

“For the immediate term we must stop the movement of people into the cities. The vagrancy act will allow that and give the government time and space to find permanent solutions to our socio-economic challenges,” Mr Manning said.

The Commissioner said that the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary will explore the option to introduce a vagrancy act further in consultation with the Minister for Internal Affairs, Hon. Peter Tsiamalili Junior.

Mr Manning said whilst he acknowledges that such an act could be seen as draconian and may deny the constitutional rights of individuals, it is necessary for the greater or common good.

“Traditional PNG was more geared towards communal harmony. Individual responsibilities were dictated for the communal well-being.

“We have adopted foreign ways in which entire communities are held at ransom for the benefit of individuals. With what is happening around the country, perhaps it’s time to look inward to come up with a way to balance collective communal well-being with individual constitutional rights,” Mr Manning said.

Mr Manning said this is suggested as a temporary measure only and going forward, drastic measures must be taken to improve the socio-economic outlook for the country in both the rural and urban settings.

“What we are experiencing now is because a large number of our people do not have access to shelter, food, water, clothes, and medicine or health care.

“ We must improve our education and health sectors, build our infrastructures and create more employment and business opportunities for our people. Only then can we expect to drastically reduce our law and order issues,” Mr Manning concluded.

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