“I have just watched the video footage of the confrontation between the UPNG students and police and the police shooting of unarmed students. I am truly saddened by the sight of our young unarmed students being shot at and chased like ‘animals.’ As this video footage now goes viral globally, the incident marks a sad and dark page in our short democratic history.
I have also read an excellent summary by Bryan Kramer of how the confrontation took place and escalated into the “undisciplined and unlawful shooting” of students, by the police led by Superintendent Ben Turi.
I agree with Bryan’s proposal that the SRC on behalf of the whole student body and each of the individual students who have been shot and injured by the police should commence Human Rights Violation and Enforcement proceeding in the National Court.
I also agree with Bryan that the Commission of Inquiry is not really going to ultimately hold any individual accountable for their role in this ‘gross violation of the student’s human rights’ to peacefully protest and voice ‘dissent.’
The proceedings should name Superintendent Ben Turi, the Police Commissioner Gari Baki and the State as Respondents for being complicit in the violation of the students’ human rights.
The students and indeed every citizen of this democratic free constitutional democracy have the human rights freedom to protest and show dissent in a peaceful way. The police do not have the right nor the power to arbitrarily deny or prevent the exercise of these rights guaranteed under our constitution. The government does not have the power to stop the free and peaceful exercise of the rights to freedom of expression in dissent or to assemble and march to exercise this freedom.
So, what the police did in stopping the students from going to Parliament to witness the parliamentary sittings was unlawful and in violation of the human constitutional rights.
Even if at best some students may have hurled stones at police, DID THAT WARRANT AND JUSTIFY THE LEVEL OF RESPONSE TO FIRE LIVE BULLETS INTO AN UNARMED BODY OF STUDENTS?
THERE DID NOT SEEM TO BE ANY JUSTIFICATION WHATSOEVER, IN LAW, FOR THE POLICE TO OPEN FIRE INTO AN UNARMED BODY OF STUDENTS. THOSE WERE ‘PRIMA FACIE’ CRIMINAL ACTS.
THE INDIVIDUAL OFFICERS WHO WERE RESPONSIBLE FOR FIRING THOSE LIVE BULLETS INTO THE STUDENTS SHOULD BE CHARGED WITH ATTEMPTED MURDER. THE OFFICER IN CHARGE OF THAT OPERATION BEN TURI AND THE POLICE COMMISSIONER SHOULD BOTH BE CHARGE AS ACCOMPLICES AS AIDERS AND ABETTORS IN THE PERPETRATION OF THIS CRIMINAL ACTION.
Now having said this, I do not imagine for one moment any leadership in the police force is going to do this. Already, the puppet police commission and the PM Peter O’Neill are announcing Commissions of Inquiry and some toothless internal inquiry by the police.
IF WE ARE TRULY SERIOUS ABOUT ACCOUNTABILITY AND GOOD GOVERNANCE AND UPHOLDING THE RULE OF LAW, STRONG LEADERSHIP SHOULD HAVE IMMEDIATELY ‘SUSPENDED’ THE COMMANDING OFFICER IN CHARGE OF THIS OPERATION, WHICH IN THIS CASE IS SUPERINTENDENT BEN TURI AS I UNDERSTAND. HE SHOULD BE IMMEDIATELY SUSPENDED FOR LOSING CONTROL AND OR ORDERING HIS MEN TO OPEN FIRE ON UNARMED STUDENTS.
As Bryan Kramer suggested and I agree with him, that a National Court exercising Human Rights Enforcement jurisdiction and powers will have more authority and judicial constitutional powers to enforce human rights violations than a Commission of Inquiry.
These are actions of an authoritarian regime, using the police and armed forces to suppress constitutional human rights of dissent and peaceful assembly and freedom of speech.
We in civil society must not allow this to happen. If this continues, we can kiss our democratic freedoms good-bye.
I continue to have much confidence in the independence and resilience of our judiciary, who know the breath of the constitutional powers vested in them, to enforce the constitutional rights of our people.”