Tuesday, April 26, 2016

What #PNG needs to know about the O'Neill Regime's Secret Cybercrime laws

The lack of Public Consultations with civil society stakeholders like myself raises serious questions about the intent and purpose of proposed regulation of the internet.
The O'Neill government has been secretly drafting laws to stifle Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Expression and Freedom of Assembly under the guise of fighting cyber crime
Cybercrime is simply the use of computers and mobile devices for criminal activities via the internet.
Examples include hacking, bullying, pornography, child pornography etc...
However there are sections within the Draft Cybercrime Bill [DOWNLOAD PDF] that may gravely undermine democracy in Papua New Guinea.
Section 17 of the Bill for instance deals with "Offensive Publications". This is despite the fact that section 14 deals with pornography. The problem with this section is that something that may be Offensive to one person may not be viewed as offensive by another. For instance political satire cartnoons may offend a politician but aren't necessarily offensive to society.
Section 19 deals with Defamation. Again, why have specific mention of defamation when there are already provisions for defamation in existing laws? The penalty imposed is K50 000 fine and 15 years imprisonment, which is much higher than the penalty for being caught selling marijuana. Clearly this section is intended to shut down online discussion of national issues by creating an environment of fear.
Section 25 deals with Cyber Unrest. It warns " A person who intentionally and without lawful excuse or justification, uses an electronic system or device to incite any form of unrest or giving rise is guilty of a crime."
This section could potentially kill any community organizing online if the powers that be deem such organizing to be politically unfavourable. How do you mobilize people in such an environment?
Section 40 deals with ICT Providers. It places a burden on ICT providers to monitor the activity on their network. This undermines customers right to privacy of communications.
You may or may not be aware of recent developments in the United States where the Patriot Act was repealed by the Obama Administration to stop the US Government from spying on its own people. We've also seen in the Apple iPhone scandal where the US Courts have prevented the FBI from forcing Apple to hack the iPhone of a shooter.
Following the exposure by Edward Snowden, democratic countries around the world have been moving towards protecting their citizen's right to privacy and freedom of expression. Only Dictatorships have imposed laws similar to the Draft Cybercrime Bill of the O'Neill Government.
Yes we need to regulate cybercrime and outlaw the bad stuff but we shouldn’t undermine our democratic rights in the process.
Apparently, a workshop will be held tomorrow at Lamana Hotel to discuss the new Bill and it is very suspicious that civil society has not been invited to comment.
What we are seeing are the machinations of a dictatorship.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

How #PNG's Police Commissioner bungled his handling of the Fraud Squad

Concerned Citizens in Madang calling for Fraud Squad to be reinstated
Papua New Guinea’s Police Commissioner has suspended officers of the National Fraud Squad over allegations of insubordination.

“I have taken steps today to assume command and control of an erratic and out of control National Fraud and Anti-Corruption Directorate (NFACD) and restore the integrity of the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary.

“I have done that by suspending both Director NFACD Chief Superintendent Mathew Damaru and his Deputy Chief Inspector Timothy Gitua and immediate staff for continuous defiance of administrative direction/insubordination, for failing to command and control Fraud Squad members, and for acting outside normal and established police practices and procedures,” Baki said in his media release.
The question however is: who are Gitua and Damaru directly accountable to in the “command and control” of the Fraud Squad?

It is understood that the Fraud Squad comes under the command of the Assistant Police Commissioner (ACP) for Crimes, Victor Isouve.
Whilst it may not be clear as to whether or not ACP Isouve sanctioned the recent “high profile” arrests, a media report suggests some support from ACP Isouve.

Despite Baki’s assertion against the Officers that “[a]llegations of bribery have also been made in the Simbu investigations which is currently being investigated” however in their bid to stay their suspension Damaru and Gitua provided “hard evidence” to Justice Allen David that their trip was officially sanctioned.
The “Chain of Command” is that Damaru and Gitua report to the ACP Crimes who then reports to the Police Commissioner. The Chain of Accountability therefore should be that the Police Commissioner holds his assistant commissioner accountable if he hasn’t received reports.

The Police Commissioner has made rash decisions and his outbursts on national television highlight his lack of “command and control” of his emotions.
The Key Facts surrounding the suspension of Gitua and Damaru are these:

1.       High Profile arrests were made involving a Judge, a lawyer and a Government Minister

2.       Statements were made against Fraud Squad making further arrests

3.       Officers of the Fraud Squad were suspended

4.       A Court Order was obtained lifting their suspension and restraining the Police Commissioner from
5.    Against the Court's Order the Fraud Office has been closed by the Police Commissioner

To be fair to Baki, he is the ultimate Commandant of the Police Force and he and his colleague’s roles are define by sections 196, 197 and 198 of the Constitution as well as the Police Act of 1998.

The Office of the Police Commissioner is an independent Constitutional Office created under section 198 of the Constitution. The independence of the Police Force is further reflected in section 5 of the Police Act 1998 which states that “no person who is not a member of the Force has any power of command within the Force.”
Given the facts surrounding the suspension of Gitua and Damaru, it is reasonable to question whether the Office of the Police Commissioner remains independent.

Furthermore, the subsequent actions following a Court Order by Justice Allen David raises serious questions about whether the Police Commissioner is in contempt of court and has perverted the cause of justice.

It is a rather tragic irony that the Police Commissioner could potentially meet the fate of his immediate predecessor.


Monday, April 18, 2016

Don't believe what #PNG Govt says about Fraud Squad

Police Commissioner Gary Baki yesterday began a smear campaign against officers of the National Fraud Squad.

In his press statement he affirmed that we are all not equal before the law and that high profile cases should go past his desk.

“The established practice and procedure is that all high profile cases are briefed up through the chain of command and ultimately to the office of the Commissioner," Baki stated.

Baki was unhappy that he wasnt informed of impending "high profile" arrests (he doesnt care about arrests of kanakas).

“But as Commissioner of Police I only learnt of the arrests of Vele, Justice Sakora and Minister Pala through the media like everyone else," he added.

Why should  so called "high profile" crimminal cases receive special treatment from the Police Commisioner and not the rest of the cases.

If investigating officers believe reporting a particular case to superiors may undermine investigations: should the investigating officers advice their superior about an impending arrest?

The behaviour of the Fraud Squad isn't happening in a vaccum but as a direct response to the behaviour of the Police Commissioners past and present.

Its about context and the behaviour of the Fraud Squad has been in the context of lack of support and interference from the Police Commissioners (past and present).

The Fraud Squad have been in situations where their Police Commissioner(s) have sided in court with the "high profile" people they wanted to arrest. Naturally therefore the Fraud Squad would be weary of informing the  Commissioner of impending "high profile" arrests.