Update on NEC -Designated Investigation into January 10 Civil Unrest

Tuesday 16 January, 2024

The National Executive Council-appointed team, led by Chief Secretary Ivan Pomaleu and Secretary for Justice and Attorney General,  Dr. Eric Kwa commenced a high-level investigation into the January 10th civil unrest in Port Moresby.

The investigation aimed at seeking answers and aiming to prevent future tragedies of sort began on January 11th and expects to complete within two weeks.

The investigation will delve into factors contributing to the unrest, including a critical examination of the significant payroll errors that triggered initial protests by public servants.

“Getting to the bottom of these pay issues,” emphasized Mr. Pomaleu, “is crucial to ensure such hardship never occurs again.”

The inquiry will focus on determining the root cause of discrepancies, tracing pay calculations, and analyzing approval processes for fund transfers.

Command and control failures within security forces on January 10th will also be a key focus.

“Our investigation is looking at the conduct of security forces personnel from the initial gathering in Unagi Oval on the morning of January 10, through the events of the day until calm was restored.”

“This includes how it came to be that police personnel were not at their designated posts around the city that morning, and factors relating to RPNGC and PNGDF personnel moving to protest at Parliament House, and Sir Manasupe Haus. 

“These are important issues for our disciplined forces where maintaining command and control is fundamental in sustaining organizational structures and governing the actions of personnel.”

Collaboration with the Acting Police Commissioner, PNGDF, and Correctional Services will be crucial in this process.

He added, engagement with the business community, heavily impacted by the looting and property destruction, is another priority.

 “Their firsthand experiences are invaluable, adding , “Business managers and employees were at the receiving end of the civil unrest, and their perspective on how this transpired and the responses of security forces is very important.”

“They saw with their own eyes how the looting and property damage began and escalated to the destruction that was left behind.

“The January 10th unrest left a deep scar on Papua New Guinea. Loss of life, millions of Kina in damages, and reputational harm all underscore the gravity of the incident.”

Chief Secretary Pomaleu expressed his commitment to delivering a thorough investigation, with findings presented to the National Executive Council.

The ultimate goal: implement necessary procedural changes to prevent such devastating events from recurring.

[Featured Picture: Loop PNG