No quick fix to Papua New Guinea’s law and order issues but reforms are under way, says Deputy Prime Minister


More police, prosecutors and magistrates, including some brought in temporarily from other Commonwealth countries, are key components of law and order reforms being pursued by Papua New Guinea’s government, according to Deputy Prime Minister John Rosso.

PNG’s Deputy Prime Minster John Rosso.  Credit: BAI

Acknowledging that law and order was “one of the major impediments” for business, Papua New Guinea’s Deputy Prime Minister John Rosso told an Australia-PNG business meeting in Australia last week that the government was investing heavily in its law and justice sector “to make our society free of unlawful activities that hinder socio-economic and sustainable development”.

“For the last year … government has made it its business to ensure that the circle of justice is improved,” he said, warning that there was no “quick fix” to the sector after years of under-investment – under-investment that was in evidence during the riots in Port Moresby earlier this year.

“Once you have a properly trained policeman, it’s no good putting him in the field because that properly trained policeman needs housing, he needs a police station to work in, he needs a vehicle to move around in and he needs communications.”

“The changes you will not see tomorrow, but the changes will happen within the next five years … No longer do I want to see a January 10th event that affected businesses throughout the country.”

More, better-trained police

Rosso highlighted additional funding aimed at expanding and improving PNG’s police force.

“PNG has a requirement for 26,000 policemen to ensure that we are able to meet the United Nations’ balance of police-to-population ratio,” he said, noting that the country currently only has 6000.

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“We put K200 million in extra additional funding onto the police budget last year. This year, we have done the same again.”

He emphasised, however that the additional police needed to be “smart, properly trained and resourced.”

He stated the government’s target of having 10,000 police by 2027, advising that the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary’s National School of Excellence (formerly Bomana Police College) in Port Moresby was being upgraded in order to train 1000 police cadets annually. The upgrade is being supported by the Australian government, with which PNG signed a bilateral security agreement in December 2023.

“We have started that recruitment last year … in the next month, we’ll have the first 500 police men and women graduating.”

Completing the circle

Rosso was quick to emphasise that training more police would be only part of the solution, however.

“Once you have a properly trained policeman, it’s no good putting him in the field because that properly trained policeman needs housing, he needs a police station to work in, he needs a vehicle to move around in and he needs communications.”

The Deputy Prime Minister also flagged the need to address PNG’s low conviction rates, noting that nearly 80 per cent of cases are currently “being thrown out because of [a] lack of conviction”.

“With [Australian] government support, we have now managed to train 150 prosecutors, and that program is ongoing to ensure that those the police prosecutors are able to stand up against criminal lawyers with 30 years of experience.”

He also said that funding for PNG’s Magisterial Services had been trebled to K110 million kina per year in 2023 and 2024, while the budget for PNG Correctional Services had been doubled.

While capacity is being rebuilt, Rosso said PNG would be bringing in 50 police officers and 20 judges from other Commonwealth countries to assist, assuring the business people present that “we will have more men on the streets, will have better trained and resourced men. We will have a better magistrate service fully funded, and we will have the facilities to put people behind bars.”


  1. manacraigbui97 says

    Well and good Minister Rosso for being realistic of the need to curtail law and order and it has no quick fix. Adding onto the list of reforms you mentioned I believe re-reinstating the Rural Lock up system to hold back detainees would be a major consideration. We had it in the post-independence era where it served its purpose well. In there, the prisoners or detainees were kept, and were in self-help initiatives and most were reformed through lifestyle change. They did their own Agri-farming to feed themselves and kept for minim terms as reprimanded, whilst those who were notorious and criminally charged and arrested proved a handful, so they were transferred larger goals like Baisu, Boman, Boram and other regional centers. That system allowed crime rates to be much lower that it is today. It’s not the police who process the law breakers, but the role of CS and goals have been given low attention.

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