Screenshot of Papua New Guinean police officers violently beating three men on a street in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea shared on social media on November 4, 2019. 

© 2019 YouTube
(Sydney) – Papua New Guinean authorities should promptly investigate the vicious beating by police officers of three men in Port Moresby that was captured on video and shared on social media on November 4, 2019, Human Rights Watch said today. The investigation should not merely identify the officers responsible but be capable of securing their successful prosecution and punishment.

“This video shows a shocking case of abuse on the streets in Port Moresby,” said Elaine Pearson of Human Rights Watch. “Sadly, these are not isolated cases. The only difference is this case was caught on camera. The Papua New Guinea police have a long track record of violence with impunity.”

The graphic 18-minute video shows armed police officers repeatedly kicking the men in the head and beating them with the butts of their guns while the men lie motionless on the ground. Two of the men sit up at the end of the video, but Human Rights Watch has not been able to confirm the men’s location or current condition.

The Central Police Acting Assistant Commissioner, Anthony Wagambie Jr., condemned the violence he saw in the video and said that “no one should be subjected to such beatings by police. It is against the law. If someone has committed an offense, the role of police is to arrest, charge, and detain and allow the court to deal with the accused.”

Acting Police Commissioner David Manning also responded to the video, saying that what it showed was a case of excessive use of force and that “whatever their alleged crimes, police had no right to assault the three persons like that.” Police Minister Bryan Kramer said that the officers have been identified, suspended, and charged.

Police brutality is a regular occurrence in Papua New Guinea. This incident should be independently investigated, and the police officers involved should be prosecuted and punished appropriately for their actions, Human Rights Watch said.

In August 2018, two police officers were captured on video beating a 15-year-old naked boy in Kimbe, West New Britain, while he pleaded with them to stop. The video garnered significant attention, and it was reported that the police officers had been arrested and charged. Human Rights Watch has been unable to verify whether the two police officers were ever prosecuted and held to account for their actions. Kramer confirmed that this case, and many others involving police brutality, will be reopened. An earlier video, which was released in March 2014, showed police officers setting three dogs on a man outside Port Moresby.

“Instead of merely responding as each video of police brutality emerges, the Papua New Guinea government needs to put an end to police violence immediately,” Pearson said.