Pacific Scoop

Manus police chief defends refugee curfew

Article – RNZ

The police chief in Papua New Guinea’s Manus province has justified implementing a curfew for refugees staying in Lorengau.The police chief in Papua New Guinea’s Manus province has justified implementing a curfew for refugees staying in Lorengau.

The 6pm to 6am curfew was imposed last week after a local woman died in a car crash on Manus Island.

According to Manus police commander, David Yapu, the car was being driven by a Pakistani refugee who has been charged with dangerous driving causing death.

He is also charged driving without a drivers licence and for driving under the influence of alcohol.

Mr Yapu says that given feelings in the Manus community after the woman’s death, there’s a need to ensure the refugees safety.

“So that is the reason… that we said, no, there must be some control mechanism so we can monitor them. They should not be out at the wrong place, wrong time, and that’s for their safety, They could be involved in critical situations,” said David Yapu.

Some refugees have questioned whether the curfew is legal given the PNG Supreme Court ruling of 2016 that their detention was unconstitutional.

Mr Yapu said it was something which they are raising with a lawyer, but explained that the refugees should respect the Manus community and local rules.

“At least, there must be some control. And if we do not control, we can be expecting more problems from them, and the community would be frustrated,” he said.

The police commander said persistent social problems on Manus had stemmed from alcohol and drug use by refugees and their associates.

According to him, the problems were linked to that fact that refugees had more money now after receiving significant payments from the Australian government in compensation for illegal detention on Manus.

“They have a lot of money. They’re buying vehicles, they’re buying bicycles, and some of them are running trade stores, small businesses, because of the money that they have now,” Mr Yapu said.

Meanwhile, the police commander confirmed that the Manus provincial governor, Charlie Benjamin, stormed into the West Haus accommodation facility in Lorengau on Sunday accompanied by local men.

Mr Benjamin was understood to have warned the refugees about adhering to the curfew.

“Well, he’s the governor of the province, we have to respect whatever he says,” Mr Yapu said, adding that it had to be within the confines of the law.

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