BBC Monitoring Asia Pacific
February 21, 2011
Text of report by Papua New Guinea newspaper The National website on 21 February
[Article by Isaac Nicholas: 'Weapons smuggling a concern']
Western law enforcement authorities have raised concerns about arms smuggling into the province from Australia and Indonesia, saying it is a threat to national security.
Provincial Police Commander Peter Philip said his men had confiscated arms ranging from high-powered semi-automatic weapons to small arms and shotguns.
He also raised concerns that Operation Sunset Merona refugees had been flown into East Arwin refugee camp without consultations with provincial authorities, adding that the flight of more than 50 refugees by the PNGDF Casa aircraft into Kiunga was causing further strain on the limited resources in the province.
Philip said the frequency of illegal gun smuggling was higher than what was happening up at the West Sepik border.
Ningerum Prison acting Commander Wini Nemo also raised similar concerns that the extra people on the ground would also put pressure on the jail holding capacity of 30 inmates, adding that the jail was already over-crowded.
Similar sentiments were conveyed to Correctional Services Minister Tony Aimo during a visit to the North Fly township of Kiunga last week.
Provincial Magistrate Patrick Monouluk said arms smuggling was a concern for authorities which lacked the capacity to police the vast border province.
Last week, Monouluk sentenced a man to 18 months imprisonment for smuggling arms and ammunition. Simon Somo Harquart from Mapos Village, Buang, in Morobe, was arrested by police when he attempted to move three firearms from Saibai Island in the Torres Strait into Daru. Acting on a tip-off, police confiscated a .22 squibman rifle, 303 rifle, self-loading rifle and more than 150 rounds of ammunition. Monouluk found him guilty and after sentencing, Harquart was transferred to Bomana Jail outside Port Moresby.
Aimo admitted that arms smuggling and free movement of people across the border of Indonesia and Australia was a major security concern and he would raise the issue through reporting to the National Executive Council to extend the operations from West Sepik to Western.
“We are sitting on a time bomb. There is exchange of guns and drugs along this Western border which Waigani does not know about,” Aimo said.
“It is very fragile and a threat to our national security.”
Source: The National website, Port Moresby, in English 21 Feb 11