Investigations are underway into the contributing factors and the breakdown in security measures leading to significant civil unrest in Port Moresby on 10th January 2024.
A five-member investigative team began its work on 11th January at the direction of the National Executive Council, under the leadership of the Chief Secretary to Government, Ivan Pomaleu, and Secretary for Department of Justice & Attorney-General, Dr Eric Kwa.
“Interviews with relevant parties are underway through the current week with the investigation anticipated to take place over fourteen days,” Mr Pomaleu noted.
“It is important this investigation be undertaken immediately after the events, as recollections of points of interest are fresh in minds if the individuals involved.
“The scope of the investigation is wide involving a range of elements that will be considered individually, and also how these interrelate leading to the civil unrest.
“This includes in one part consideration of the alteration in the amounts provided to public servants in the first pay-run of 2024 that preceded the civil unrest.
“This includes getting to the root cause of the pay discrepancies in terms of where pay calculations were made and how the configuration for pay was approved in order for the transfer of funds to take place.
“We must get to the bottom of these pay issues so that it never happens again and causes hardship for the families of our workers.
“These are matters that are principally being taken up with the Departments of Finance, Treasury and Personnel Management.”
The Chief Secretary said another crucial part of the investigation is consideration of command, control, and response issues in security forces throughout the 10th of January.
“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 organisational structures and governing the actions of personnel.”
“Central to this part of the investigation is the RPNGC, and the work that the Acting Commissioner of Police will do, with additional input from the PNGDF and Correctional Services.”
Ambassador Pomaleu said the investigative team will further engage with the business community, considering how they were adversely affected.
“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 it 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 civil unrest of January 10 was a dark day for our country, that caused the loss of life, the theft and destruction of hundreds of millions of Kina in goods and property, and damaged the reputation of our Nation.
“My team and I are being thorough and will deliver our findings to the National Executive Council, so that reviews in procedures can take place and we can do our best to prevent a recurrence of this type of unrest and criminal activity.”