Case 6.3 – UPNG Police Shooting

Case 6.3 – UPNG Police Shooting

On June 8, 2016 members of the Royal PNG Constabulary opened fire at protesting University of Papua New Guinea (UPNG) students in Port Moresby, resulting in injuries to people (Tlozek, 2016). The protesters wanted Prime Minister Peter O’Neill to step down from office and present himself for an interview in relation to alleged corruption.

Mr O’Neill subsequently announced a Commission of Inquiry into the UPNG shooting a week after the incident (Kil, 2016). The Royal PNG Constabulary and the Ombudsman Commission announced separate independent investigations. The police shootings drew widespread local and international condemnation.

But the commission of inquiry promised by the PM did not eventuate nor did the RPNGC management or the Ombudsman Commission publicise details of their findings. The policemen behind the June 8 shooting at the UPNG gate remain free and are yet to be held accountable for their actions, which resulted in scores of students and members of the public receiving gunshot wounds (Editor, 2016).

Sadly another commission of inquiry promised by Mr O’Neill which did not eventuate in the last term of government. It joins the other inquiries that he announced into the National Housing Corporation and the PNG Defence Force Manumanu land deal, which has hardly made traction despite the impact on the lives of ordinary citizens. Papua

Update as of 2018

The 2016 protest was a platform which the budding citizens of PNG in the tertiary institutions expressed their discontent with the Prime Minister – O’Neil in not honouring the rule of law. The protest however was met with much disapproval by the government; the inclusion of the RPNGC led to further aggravation when they opened fire on the students at the UPNG campus.

Despite drawing much national and international attention, little has been done to initiate a Commission of Inquiry into this matter. After promises by the Prime Minister (O’Neil) to conduct a COI, there hasn’t been any report reflecting any concern into the matter by the government nor the RPNGC.


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University of Papua New Guinea students gather to discuss their demand for the prime minister’s resignation, May 2016. Credit: UPNG4PNG