By Miriam Zarriga in Port Moresby
It is illegal for any Papua New Guinean police officer to demand spot fines from people not wearing face masks in public, says Police Minister Bryan Kramer.
“There is no fine that I am aware of. However there are orders. There shouldn’t be any spot fines.”
He said he would discuss the matter with Police Commissioner David Manning.
Kramer said some officers had been “abusing” the public health safety orders regarding the covid-19 coronavirus pandemic such as on the wearing of face masks in public transport and in public places.
“There is a concern about these orders on the pandemic which certain officers have abused,” he said.
“I would encourage [people told by police to pay a fine] to file a complaint when they feel something is wrong. If officers are asked to be paid, or there is a need for clarification, just write a letter to my office and the Commissioner of Police David Manning.”
Kramer told The National that anyone ordered to pay a spot fine or threatened of arrest for not wearing a mask in a private vehicle should report the matter to the nearest police station and write a formal complaint to his office.
He said offending police officers would be dealt with.
Rebuilding ‘internal investigations’
“We are rebuilding and strengthening the Internal Investigations Unit (for this purpose),” he said.
“We want to start aggressively dealing with this issue of police officers charging those who do not adhere to the laws.
“Applying common sense is something everyone should be adhering to, and wearing face masks.”
Meanwhile, police pulled off the road about 50 buses last Friday for breaching public health safety rules such as the requirement that passengers wear face masks.
National Capital District Metropolitan Superintendent Perou N’dranou said the bus drivers and checkers had been ignoring the covid-19 protocols such as the maximum of 15 passengers.
“On Friday, buses were removed from the roads after they were given ample time to adhere to the new measures set by controller David Manning,” he said.
Warning against complacency
RNZ Pacific reports Pandemic Response Controller David Manning has warned against complacency after reporting no new cases of covid-19 in the past day.
PNG’s total number of confirmed cases remains at 459, with five related deaths reported so far, although less than 16,000 tests have been conducted to date.
Manning said that just because PNG had not reported any new cases today it did not mean that the virus was not spreading.
The Pacific Media Centre republishes articles from The National newspaper with permission.