PNG to upgrade Tribal Fights Act with life in jail for ‘domestic terrorists’

PNG Prime Minister James Marape
PNG Prime Minister James Marape . . . “We know who the ring leaders of the tribal fights are." Image: PNG Post-Courier

PNG Post-Courier

Papua New Guineans engaged in tribal fights will face life imprisonment once Parliament has its way with the amendment of the Tribal Fights Act in October.

And the PNG government is looking at amending laws to also give police additional powers and immunity under special operations to protect the lives of policemen and women.

The “restlessness” in Enga over the last couple of days has been labelled as “domestic terrorism”, which the security forces will be addressing under the special police unit and force that has been instructed to be set up.

Prime Minister James Marape enroute to Wabag, Enga Province and then onto Port Vila, Vanuatu, fpor the Melanesian Spearhead Group leaders’ summit yesterday said the October Parliament Session would deal with amending the Tribal Fights Act to stop these “horrific fights” throughout the country.

Under he PNG Constitution there is an Inter-group Fighting Act 1977 with a purpose to discourage fighting between groups of Papua New Guineans by providing for:

  • The creation of offences in relation to such fighting;
  • The imposition of severe penalties for such offences;
  • The collective punishment of the leaders of groups involved in fighting; and
  • The imprisonment of group leaders for non-payment of penalties imposed on them as a result of their group’s participation in such fighting.

Severe penalties
The Tribal Fights Act, now under a policy directive to be enacted, will be severe and is expected to deal specifically with life imprisonment among other punishments.

“Next October when we go to Parliament, we will be amending the Tribal Fights Act,” Marape said.

“Those who start tribal fights will be receiving life imprisonment, not just for Enga but right across the country.

“We don’t want people to get engaged in tribal fights, those who cause tribal fights we will give them life imprisonment and that is the policy direction my government has given with the necessary legal change happening and being drafted as we speak.

“For now, police have been instructed to look into stepping up their operations.”

Police Commissioner David Manning had put in place an operational order and re-structure to enable the military and police to cooperate — “we try to get a specific command, a high-ranking police officer,” Marape said.

“I will be stepping into Wabag today and will address our people out there . . . and will be appealing to the people out there.

It was not the entire Enga Province involved, it was about four tribal fights based on police intelligence.

“We know who the ring leaders of the tribal fights are,” Marape said.

“In respect to restlessness in our country we are labelling this restlessness as domestic terrorism and so a special police unit being organised will go in full power to specific hotspot areas.”

Republished with permission.

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