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Investigations are underway and two officers suspended after a video circulated on social media depicting police brutality in Papua New Guinea.
The harrowing footage filmed on a mobile phone shows two officers armed with semi-automatic guns standing over a teenager who appears to be naked.
Local police told SBS News they believe the boy is aged between 15 and 16 years old.
A Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary spokesperson said the boy was hospitalised but is now "OK", dismissing social media reports that he did not survive.
The officers are seen taking it in turns whipping the young man with sticks and kicking him in the face in front of at least two dozen witnesses.
The video continues with one of the officers stepping on the victim’s head while pointing his weapon at him before continuing to whip and drag him along rocks.
According to the Post Courier in Papua New Guinea, the young man was asking for a bag while he was being beaten.
Papua New Guinea’s Police Commissioner Gari Baki says police brutality is an issue he has raised before and has vowed to "come down hard" on the officers involved.
“I have ordered a full investigation into the incident, the two officers seen are from an operational team sent into the province to support the police on the ground,” he told the newspaper.
“My stand on police brutality continues to be disregarded by a few officers and I will not hesitate to come down hard on officers who are not protecting and serving the people.”
Bystanders can be heard in the background asking why the assault was carried out. The video ends with the young man crying and pleading for mercy.
Commissioner Baki said the video was filmed a week and a half ago but only added and shared on social media this week.
In an interview with SBS News, Elaine Pearson, Australian Director at Human Rights Watch says horrific incidents of police brutality occur in PNG every day.
“This video is absolutely horrific but sadly it’s not surprising,” Elaine Pearson, Australian Director at Human Rights Watch said.
“We know that police brutality is a regular everyday occurrence in Papua New Guinea, I think what’s exceptional about this video is that it was captured on video.
“We know that police commit abuses, beatings, in some cases torture and rape against children and people they pick up as criminal suspects. Sometimes those beatings happen in public in broad daylight, as this one did.
“I think there is a real concern that people are very afraid in PNG of the police. The police are not seen as people who protect them, but people to be fearful of. I think we see that very much in the fact this video was taken down by the person who posted it shortly afterwards, with a big apology.
“What we really need to see is not the police investigating themselves but we need to see an independent investigation into the police, preferably led by the ombudsman office.”
“What we see repeatedly in PNG is a failure to hold police to account and that is why they can get away with cases like this.
“We would like to see an independent and credible investigation into this case of abuse, that should be preferably led by the ombudsman office in PNG.”
“We have documented a pattern of these incidents over the years happening all over PNG.
“I hope there is a full and independent investigation into this incident but also other incidents. We know police have announced an investigation, that’s what they always do when there is a media outcry about a specific case. However, the police are rarely disciplined or held to criminal liability for these cases.”
A spokesman for Papua New Guinea police told SBS News the boy in the video was hopitalised but is now “OK” and has since been released into the care of his parents.
The original video has since been removed by the person who posted it who later apologised on social media.
“I praise the hard work and effort of the police department and the positive actions and attitudes towards keeping our town, community and families safe,” the post read.
Pacific Islands News Association
Who & What is PINA?
International News Safety Institute (INSI)
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