Chinese mafia groups have infiltrated and corrupted the highest levels of Papua New Guinea’s police force, crippling the struggling nation’s attempts to tackle its law-and-order crisis and posing a potential national security threat to Australia.
An Age investigation has uncovered alleged links between 16 of PNG’s most senior police and Asian criminals implicated in people-smuggling, money-laundering, prostitution, illegal gambling, fraud and theft. Australian authorities fear that PNG’s police are so compromised that the country could be used as a staging post to traffic people into Australia.
This report by The Age seems to stem from allegations made by then Senior Constable Emmanuel Bani of the PNG Police who reported to the then PNG assistant commissioner, crime, Raphael Huafolo that a sophisticated network was smuggling marijuana from Papua New Guinea into Australia via the Torres Strait island of Daru, with the help of corrupt officials. Mr Bani named four Queensland businessmen allegedly involved in the smuggling; two are said to have links to the Bandidos bikie gang. Mr Bani said he obtained the information from members of the PNG syndicate after posing as a drug trafficker.
The PNG and Australian Federal Police have subsequently labelled Mr Bani as corrupt and a drug runner meaning that his whistleblowing efforts have come to naught.
This is despite the fact that police and senior officials said guns were being smuggled into PNG, from Australia via Daru, in part-payment for some drug shipments. Gold and diamonds were also being smuggled into Australia in late-night, island-hopping speedboat runs.
Daru is a short speedboat ride away from Australian territory and is fast earning a reputation for frontier-town lawlessness.
Former PNG assistant police commissioner and southern region commander John Marru said in 2004 that:
…a sophisticated criminal gang, whose members included police and government officers, was smuggling drugs to Australia through Daru. Smugglers were using light aircraft as well as high-powered speedboats…
in his presentation to the Australia/PNG joint border advisory committee in November 2004, Mr Marru stated that local agencies
“lack the capacity and appropriate logistical and financial support … to crack down on possible trafficking and smuggling activities along the border”.
He told the meeting smuggling was likely to increase, with more “sneak runs across the border to Australia”, if surveillance was not boosted.
The Australian Federal Police and their act of bastardry against Capt. Fred Martens
In response to allegations of lawlessness and corruption in PNG and on the back of the Bali bombing Australia began to taken a more interventionist approach in dealing with PNG. In December 2003 at the 15th Australia-Papua New Guinea Ministerial Forum in Adelaide, the Australian Government announced an $800 million Enhanced Cooperation Package (ECP) for PNG.
The ECP signaled a significant policy shift in the way Australia engaged with her neighbours in the pacific. The focus shifted towards ensuring regional stability for Australia’s national interest.
To this end, the Howard government began deploying Australian Federal Police to Papua New Guinea in September 2004. This deployment followed a decision by the Papua New Guinea parliament on July 27 to pass legislation allowing the 230 Australian Federal Police and 64 public servants who were installed in key legal, financial and border security positions in PNG immunity from local law. The Australian government insisted on this before allowing the $800 million ECP through.
One of the first acts the Australian Federal Police did on arriving in PNG was to charge Captain Fred Martens with various offenses under Australia’s child sex-tourism laws. Prior to being charged Capt. Martens ran an airline in PNG, and had a contract with the PNG police to patrol the PNG/Indonesian boarder which runs through Daru.
By charging Capt. Martens, the Australian Federal Police effectively removed the only surveillance PNG had along its long and remote boarder with Indonesia. This is the same boarder in the same province that Senior Constable Emmanuel Bani claimed was a conduit for guns, drugs, gold, diamonds and people smugglers operating through and around PNG, Indonesia and Australia.
If Capt. Martens committed a crime and the Australian Federal Police acted in good faith, so what, you might ask. Well’ Capt. Martens was tried in the Supreme Court in Queensland found guilty, sentenced to five years in jail, then had his conviction quashed by the Queensland court of appeal amidst allegations that the Australian Federal Police had acted unprofessionally in their prosecution of him.
On 18th February, 2011 Capt. Fred Martens through his PNG lawyers Peter Penna and Associates filed a Writ of Summons and Associated Statement of Claim in the PNG National Court, Waigani.
On page 13 and fourteen of the Writ of Summons and Associated Statement of Claim at sub-sections 44 (b) to (e) makes the following allegations:
(b) in or about April – May 2004 0bserved Leisa James and Richard Terry, who were members of the AFP employed by the COA being Designated persons under the EC Treaty Act, also investigating into the charges referred o at paragraph 13(a) herein, find the passport application of Grace Nabaimu lodged on 13th August 2001 at the Immigration office at Waigani, uplift the application from the office and concealed same.
(c) knew that Tania Stokes (a member of the AFP employed by the COA being Designated persons under the EC Treaty Act) swore an affidavit on 27th April, 2005 stating that “…the Director of Operations for PNG Immigration Department advised that most of the records were stolen in 2004…” and that there was no passport application for Grace Nabaimu; knew the statement was made to support the Prosecution knowing that he facsimiled the passport application and other documents to Tania Stokes on 13th May, 2004 shortly after they were uplifted and four (4) months before the plaintiff was arrested.
(d) knew or ought to have known that Dr Mondia, who witnessed the passport application declaration and photographs of Grace Nabaimu on 1th August, 2011 was interviewed by Tania Stokes in 2005 and the statement was concealed and never disclosed by Tania Stokes.
(e) came to know an Affidavit sworn on 24th August 2004 wherein Tania Stokes asserted that Grace Nabaimu’s passport and visa application were attended to in March 2001 when he knew that Tania Stokes knew or ought to have known as early as 13th May 2004 that this statement was false. (My emphasis)
While all of the above mentioned allegations relate to the Second Defendant Detective Inspector Moses Ibsagi of the PNG Police, they refer to crimes committed by serving Australian Federal Police Officers against Mr Martens in PNG which he witnessed.
Why would the Australian federal Police go to such lengths to fit-up an Australian citizen?
The same Australian Federal Police who so mishandled the Martens investigation and in so doing, removed the only aerial surveillance the PNG Government had along it’s boarder with Indonesia, are the same Australian Federal Police who are responsible along with the Australian Customs service for patrolling Australia’s boarders and keeping illegal guns out of the hands of criminals here. In the lead up to the last NSW State election, then NSW opposition police spokesman Michael Gallacher said there was increasing use of weapons and illicit drugs by criminals in NSW due to “weak links” in the nation’s border controls and the AFP and Customs needed to “step up” to solve the problem.
There was a problem with the illicit guns, drugs, gold, diamonds and people smuggling along the borders with PNG, Indonesia and Australia which was centred on Daru and was investigated by Senior Constable Emmanuel Bani of the PNG Police in 2004, the same year in which the Australian Federal Police removed, via allegedly fraudulent means, the only semblance of law enforcement there was in the area to tackle these problems.
I spoke with Capt. Martens this morning and he informed that as at today’s date 19th May, 2011 neither the PNG Government nor any of the other defendants mentioned in Capt. Martens Writ of Summons and Associated Statement of Claim had filed a defence. In PNG defendants are allowed sixty days to file a defence, which would have elapsed on or about, 17 April. 2011.
What is even more concerning about the Marten’s case is that the Australian Federal Police Officers mentioned in Capt. Martens Writ of Summons and Associated Statement of Claim have immunity from PNG local law under the terms of the ECP.
The issues surrounding the granting of immunity to Australian Federal Police Officers acting extra-territorially becomes of greater concern to all Australians when we consider the possible implications of the Commonwealth Department of Public Prosecutions (CDPP) stated intention of filing a notice of contention, challenging the constitutional validity of the High Court reviewing the legality of the Australian government’s actions in the Solomon Islands during Mr. Moti’s illegal rendition to Australia.
In a nut shell, the CDPP will argue that Mr. Moti’s rendition to Australia from Honiara in December 2007 falls into the category of “non-reviewable executive action,” or executive action carried out internationally that, under the Australian constitution, cannot be assessed by the judiciary.
The logical extension of the CDPPs application if filed and upheld by the High Court of Australia would to grant immunity from local and Australian laws for crimes committed by Australian Government officials including Australian Federal Police officers for crimes they commit while acting in an official capacity for the Australian Government, overseas.
We all know from events unfolding in the Mark Standen trial and events that have already unfolded in the Martens and Courtney trials that certain elements within the Australian Federal Police and not above breaking the law for personal gain. With immunity comes a lack of transparency and accountability. If the Australian Federal Police truly are unaccountable, Australia should brace itself for an absolute explosion of illegal guns, drugs, diamonds, gold and people on the streets of our cities.
I’ll leave you with the following words from the Commonwealth Ombudsman to ponder over, when you next read about gang related shootouts in one of our cities, over illegal drugs using illegal guns:
The delay in reaching conclusions on investigations, the low establishment rate for external complaints and the manner of conducting investigations calls into question whether or not the principal aims of amending AFP complaint handling, via the enactment of Part V, are being sufficiently met.