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Sacked PNG Police Commissioner Baki to Seek Restraining Order Against Govt

PNG Acting Police Commissioner Gary Baki this afternoon said he will be applying to court for a restraining order against the National Executive Council on its decision on July 5th 2019, to appoint an acting Police Commissioner and two acting Deputy Police Commissioners replacing him, Acting Deputy Police Commissioner Administration Raphael Huafolo and Acting Deputy Police Commissioner Jim Andrews.

Mr Baki stated the reason as the due and established processes for appointments were not followed by Police Minister Bryan Kramer in the appointments of the Chief of Bougainville Police Service, Deputy Commissioner Francis Tokura as acting Commissioner of Police, Commander Northern, Assistant Commissioner Peter Guinness as Acting Deputy Commissioner Operations and Assistant Commissioner Joanne Clarkson as Acting Deputy Commissioner Administration.

He said he had issued a Police Gazette on Friday July 5th, consistent with the Police Force Act (Chapter 65), announcing the vacancies in the two positions and called for applications from the serving Assistant Commissioners of Police with the deadline for applications on the 31st July.

All applicants would then be screened by the Police Commissioner who then submits a shortlist of candidates to the National Executive Council through the Police Minister for its consideration and decision.

Commissioner Baki said instead, the Police Minister and NEC decided to do selective appointments on the same day the Police Gazette was issued, thus bypassing this process and creating a vacuum in the leadership of the Constabulary.

He said his action was to ensure;

1. There is for good governance, accountability, transparency, fairness, and due diligence in terms of the processes of appointment;

2. There is continuity and stability within the Police Force;
3. There is a smooth and natural transition period;

4. The Bougainville Peace Agreement is not compromised and the Bougainville Referendum is not negatively impacted in any way; and

5. Police officers and their careers are protected.

Whilst the appointment of the Police Commissioner is the prerogative of the National Executive Council, Commissioner Baki said it is duty bound to uphold the values of good governance, accountability, transparency, fairness, and due diligence.

Baki added the appointment of Mr Tokura goes against the spirit of that Bougainville Peace Agreement in that consultations were not held between the Government of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville and the Commissioner of the Royal PNG Constabulary prior to the appointment.

Commissioner Baki said within the last 13 years they have had 13 police commissioners – six permanent appointments and seven acting appointments and these constant changes always have a negative impact on the Constabulary.

He added that this action is not intended in any way to discredit the three officers who have been appointed in acting capacities as they are experienced and qualified police officers, but the action is taken to protect them as well as the other senior officers of the Constabulary.

The Police Minister stated in his letter that Mr Baki had gone over the compulsory retirement age of 60, hence he ceases as the Acting Commissioner of Police.

Mr Baki said the Supreme Court decision the Minister was referring to was in regards to the public service that are catered for under the Public Services (Management) Act, however members of the Police Force from Assistant Commissioners down to the Constable are subject to the Police Act 1998 which states their retirement age at 60, but in cases where necessary the Police Commissioner can allow them to serve until 65.

In that case, the Police Commissioner and the two Deputy Commissioners are subject to the terms of their employment contracts.

Baki said his appointment term expired on 7 May 2019 and both Mr Huafolo and Mr Andrews' terms expired on the 4th of July this year as well but he was reappointed in an acting capacity until 8 August.

Commissioner Baki said it is only then logical and practical for the three of them to oversee the RPNGC whilst the Government initiates the appointment process and appoints a new Police Commissioner and Deputy Commissioners so that before August 8th they will carry out a proper hand-over and vacate these three offices.

He concluded by stating that this is not an attempt by him or the two deputies to remain in office as they have served their term and want to retire but deserve to be treated with respect and dignity by the Government, adding all career police officers must be treated with respect and due consideration and not tossed around.

Image: Acting Police Commissioner Gari Baki addressing the media with Acting Deputy Police Commissioner Jim Andrews (left) and Acting Deputy Police Commissioner Administration Raphael Huafolo (right).

FM100/PNG Today

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