Home > Corruption, Human rights, Land, Papua New Guinea > UK Human Rights Body warns of police intimidation at Paga Hill

UK Human Rights Body warns of police intimidation at Paga Hill

The International State Crime Initiative

The International State Crime Initiative (ISCI), a research centre based out of King’s College London, has raised concerns over the police’s treatment of Paga Hill community leader, Joe Moses, which they worry is part of a broader campaign to intimidate Paga Hill residents.

According to the head of ISCI’s Papua New Guinea section, Dr Kristian Lasslett:

“Joe Moses still has an appeal before the court, he is the last barrier between the Paga Hill Development Company (PHDC) and the land at Paga Hill. Joe knows the developer’s background, he has read the Public Accounts Committee and Auditor General reports slamming the land transaction and the CEO of PHDC, Gudmundur Fridriksson. He is a proud Papua New Guinean who does not want to see his community and the land at Paga Hill surrendered to a developer of ill repute”.

Dr Lasslett’s comments come after police issued a media release last week alleging that Joe Moses is wanted for resisting arrest, inciting a fight, discharging a firearm, and escaping police custody (see Appendix B below). According to Dr Lasslett:

“I was shocked to read on the 3rd of June that police were launching a manhunt for Joe Moses. It is hard to believe that a humble university administrator like Joe, could escape from police custody. I have spoken to Joe, he denies all charges, and is in hiding fearing for his life. I am worried this is straight out police intimidation designed to terrorise the community at Paga Hill. It shouldn’t be forgotten in this respect that the Paga Hill Estate is a joint venture between PHDC and the national government’s private real estate arm”.

ISCI has obtained photos from the arrest, they show heavily armed police questioning Joe Moses (see Appendix A below). Dr Lasslett notes:

“All this comes just a month after the Paga Hill Development Company donated K20,000 to the RPNGC. It is vital that the police in Papua New Guinea are not only independent of private influence, but are seen to be independent of private influence. Accepting a donation in such close proximity to a series of major police operations at Paga Hill is at the very least poor practice on the RPNGC’s part” (see Appendix C below).

Criticism has also been levelled at the Paga Hill Development Company’s CEO, Gudmundur Fridriksson. According to the International State Crime Initiative Gudmundur Fridriksson has a worrying commercial history, and is a poor choice for a so called project of national significance. Dr Lasslett notes:

“Fridriksson has a long and chequered commercial history in PNG. Fridriksson arrived during the mid-1990s, and quickly made a name for himself through the Destination PNG affair where he was awarded K2.5 million by the PNG government to produce a book celebrating 20 years of PNG’s independence – entitled Destination PNG – the deal was subsequently slammed by celebrated ABC correspondent Sean Dorney who noted the K2.5 million book was littered with ‘appalling mistakes’”.

According to the International State Crime Initiative, following the Destination PNG saga, Gudmumdur Fridriksson set up a consultancy firm, CCS Anvil, which came under scrutiny by the Auditor General’s Office and the Public Accounts Committee. Dr Lasslett explains:

“In the most serious investigation involving CCS Anvil, the Auditor General’s Office and the Public Accounts Committee claim that when acting as an agent for PNG’s Public Curator’s Office, the firm pocketed money from deceased estates, K1,966,677 to be precise, which it was meant to deposit in Estate Trust Accounts”.

“Additionally, they also allege that CCS Anvil’s PNG principal was certifying government payments to his own firm, for as much as K500,000, and that the company benefited to the tune of K4,872,375 in ‘unlawful’ payments from the Public Curator’s Office”.

The International State Crime Initiative claim they are documenting the Paga Hill case and will bring it, along with a number of other recent instances of forced evictions in the nation’s capital, to the attention of the UN Special Rapporteur on Housing.

Contact:

Dr Kristian Lasslett
International State Crime Initiative
kak.lasslett@ulster.ac.uk 

Appendix A – Photos from the Arrest of Joe Moses 29 May 2014

Image: Heavily armed police arrive at Paga Hill to arrest Joe Moses on 29 May 2014

Image: Heavily armed police arrive at Paga Hill to arrest Joe Moses on 29 May 2014

Image: A frightened Joe Moses denies charges to police.

Image: A frightened Joe Moses denies charges to police.

Image: Anthropologist and Paga Hill leader Joe Moses (front, with cap) with Paga Hill residents in 2012 at the National Court.

Image: Anthropologist and Paga Hill leader Joe Moses (front, with cap) with Paga Hill residents in 2012 at the National Court.

 

Appendix B – 3 June 2014 RPNGC Press Release on Joe Moses 

ROYAL PAPUA NEW GUINEA CONSTABULARY

POLICE MEDIA UNIT

MEDIA RELEASE

Tuesday June 03, 2014

NCD Police on hunt for Joe Moses for unlawful discharge of firearm

Police in the National Capital District are looking for a male adult, Joe Moses, a resident of the Paga Hill settlement, in relation to a firearms complaint.

Complaints have been laid with police that Moses had on the night of May 28 discharged two shots from an unidentified firearm at a group of people on Paga Hill. Moses was brought in for questioning on May 29 but was reported to have escaped from police custody.

“We want to see the firearm and we want to know whether he has a licence or a permit to carry. However, Joe Moses ran away from us and is in hiding. We have made a number of visits to his residence on Paga Hill but cannot locate him,” case officer and Commander of the NCD Beat Unit Senior Constable Gene Punai said.

Senior Constable Punai said once Moses is located Police will also lay a number of other charges upon him including resisting arrest, escaping from lawful custody and inciting a fight.

Moses is believed to be from the West New Britain Province. His known place of residence is the Paga Hill settlement and the University of Papua New Guinea. Anyone with information on his whereabouts are encouraged to contact Senior Constable Punai on telephone 72448229.

 

Appendix C – Paga Hill Development Company Donates K20,000 to the RPNGC

ROYAL PAPUA NEW GUINEA CONSTABULARY

POLICE MEDIA UNIT

MEDIA RELEASE:

Thursday April 24, 2014

Policewomen thank Paga Hill Development Company for timely donation of K20,000

Acting Assistant Commissioner Reforms Joanne Clarkson today thanked the Paga Hill Development Company for its timely donation of K20,000 which enable the Constabulary to send policewomen to participate in the Australasian Police & Emergency Services Games in Melbourne, Australia.

The team of 22 which includes one policeman are currently in Melbourne, Australia where they will be participating in two sporting events, netball and basketball. The games began on April 18 and ends on April 24. Over 3,000 competitors from Australia, New Zealand, Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea will be competing in 50 sports.

“We are most grateful to Paga Hill Development Company Limited for its timely assistance which enabled us to send our policewomen to participate in this regional event.

“Although this is a regional event the Constabulary was not able to fund our participation so it was left to the policewomen to raise funds ourselves. So thanks to Paga Hill Development Company and others we are able to fly the RPNGC flag at this regional event,” Chief Superintendent Clarkson.

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  1. July 5, 2014 at 10:07 am

    A bit of clarification here: Appendix A -Photos; The one in orange shirt (back shown) is a police officer (Constable Gene Punai) under the influence of alcohol. He tried to hit Joe Moses with the piece of wood he was holding. Joe Moses cannot be seen in that image because he is still inside his makeshift shelter perimeters fearing the aggressive officer plus his other two junior officers (with guns) and a couple of tribesman(with bushknives). These tribesman are PHDC security guards/cleaners/tree choppers/road workers etc..

    The officers plus the tribesman were there to arrest Joe Moses on what grounds?
    – ‘discharged two shots from an unidentified firearm at a group of people on Paga Hill’

    This never occured and it will never occur. Joe doesn’t even own a gun. The makeshift shelter he lives in is not even secure enough for a gun to be kept. Can the Police media unit use some common sense here or at least come down to Paga hill and do some investigations first before the media release.

    You will never find any concrete evidence to disprove Joe’s innocence. This is a prefabricated story initiated by the intoxicated senior Constable. Why were PHDC employees/guards etc in the bus with him.

    Complainants? PHDC tribesman or genuine Paga hill residences. Still don’t know who is/were the complainants-yet to see arrest warrant.

    PHDC, please leave Joe Moses alone.

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