Tuesday, 13 March 2007

end of February 2007

February 2007

27th armed robbery Ela Motors. Security guards tied-up. Parts and equipment stolen

28th theft
Masurina. Dingy stolen. One suspect apprehended. One escaped.

Motor vehicles in Alotau

A number of traffic hazards are occurring because traffic policing has ceased.

There is simply no visible policing at all on the streets of Alotau.

We are hesitant to even mention this, because the response is usually heavy-handed, and inappropriate: road-blocks. In this blog, there are cases of allegations of police beating motorists.

But there is now a bad situation that is causing concern.

The problem is not just bad policing. There is also bad street lighting, poor supervision of transport/taxi licensing, and poor liquor licensing control.

Much could be done by companies self-regulating. Company management need to be strict with their drivers. Alotau is a small town. Dob-in bad drivers in to their bosses.

In the past few years Milne Bay has prospered and there are a lot more vehicles on the road. At times there are mini-traffic jams.

The main concerns are

* speeding by taxis, delivery vehicles from the main stores, and heavy trucks moving oil palm.

* heavy trucks transporting containers with the container not fastened down. This is very dangerous as if the container slid off the vehicle there could be a major accident.

* drunks. these offences occur mainly at night, with drunks driving around. Sedan cars have been seen in the ditches. The drunks pull them out before the police get to them.

* one person killed near or on the pedestrian crossing at Sanderson Bay at night by a motor vehicle. This pedestrian crossing has no street light. Sanderson Bay has a "night-life" and street lighting is necessary.

Causes of crime in Milne Bay: an Essay

Milne Bay needs a redistribution of wealth, goods and services to young people, both male and female, and a renovation of its justice system, if the issue of crime is to be addressed in any meaningful manner.

What should be done?

  • reduce the national debt, and the need to pay-off state loans; move the money saved to youth and women

  • reduce the size of the public sector wage bill, and move the money saved to youth and women.

  • target the percentile of the population who are prone to crime, so they are brought within the mainstream of society and the economy. Ensure this group have a future: jobs, land, business opportunity, housing, entertainment and sport.
  • restructure the economy away from big-foreign investment, towards people-orientated agriculture, small and medium scale enterprises.

  • renovate the justice sector by

* re-organising local government to focus on community security

* abolishing the RPNG Constabulary and starting the police again, decentralised, with provincial command & control, and political accountability within the province.

*The emphasis should be on community security, by the community.

* putting a superior court of record in Alotau, with a system of either juries or assessors, capable of circuiting to all districts, integrated with a village or community court system managed by and accountable to the superior court of record.

*justice sector building program, court-houses,

* emphasis on non-custodial justice, with jail reserved for the dangerous and intractable
*build-up non-custodial responses to violence and deception.

* emphasis on non-judicial dispute resolution

* abolish the distinction between civil and criminal, and get a new set of procedures to deal with all issues.

* break-up the lawyers monopoly and court-costs systems,

Why should this be so?

Read on:

1. No political leadership on crime at provincial level

The justice system is about to collapse and current political leadership on crime is divided between those who simply do not have the intellectual capacity to think through complex economic, social and political issues, and those that do have this capacity.

Politically, thinking about crime, is very much a matter of "old style", and "new style" leadership.

The preponderance of current political leadership is too old fashioned, reflecting colonial, knee-jerk thinking. The central values of that thinking are "retribution", "tinkering" with existing institutions, and the colonial punitive-raid, where police raid villages, and beat communities.

Although at the national level, at election-time, there is now some indication of partial reform from the Minister for Justice Biri Kimilsopa, and Dame Carol Kidu in Social Services, these attitudes are not reflected by the Prime Minister and the bunch of power-brokers that surround him. We are only just seeing the roll-out of a national policy on juvenile crime, in time for the elections. Nor do we see a change operating at provincial level. At provincial level there is no debate. Only a vacuum and silence.

2. The root causes of crime in Milne Bay

The mistake in colonial criminological thinking is to see crime as a separate issue to be dealt with by the so-called "criminal justice system", when crime is, in very general terms, more like a rational response by aliened youth to an unjust economic and social system.

Most crime is committed by males within the age range of 15 to 35. The victims of crime, and this largely male percentile, are suffering. The suffering is not "the disease", it is a mere "symptom" of the disease. Most criminals get off scot-free because the system does not detect them, or if they are caught, many escape the system by jumping bail or absconding. So a sub-culture of crime grows both in and outside the jails. As most people in Papua New Guinea are poor, the links between the criminal sub-culture, and the traditional groups, are strong. In any case the government is weak. Its arm does not reach very far, so it is largely ignored. The government is outside the problem, and simply cannot get inside it. So we can see that the root causes of crime are much deeper than the governments current approach.

Objectively (what goes on outside the human mind), the root causes of crime lie in the economy and society. Objectively, a male aged 25, is more likely to commit an offence, than a female aged 45. It is the male population percentile between the aged of 15 and 35 that commits offences. But not all of this percentile is vulnerable. As the so-called "modern-economy" simply has no chance of offering employment to all young people, youth is largely doomed to drifting between rural-production, the informal sector, doing nothing, and crime.

Those in school or employment tend not to commit crime. The profile of an offender is largely male (although increasing female too), 15 to 35, unemployed, out of school, brokeneducation opportunity, home-less, land-less, powerless, no future,.

Subjectively (what goes on inside the human mind) not all poor youths chose to do criminal acts, so the individual has a a choice.

For the past two hundred years, largely due to the poor science of Jeremy Bentham and those who followed, our criminal justice systems have accepted the argument that we are all responsible for our individual acts. This individualistic value was also at the core of the enforceable contract. Contracts were the cornerstone of capitalism. So Bentham was popular with the neo-classical economists and penal-code and prison architects. This unscientific premises are at odds with Melanesian values of collective responsibility. The responsibility for transgressions of the individual should be shared by kinsman.

Scientifically, we are pretty-well "hard-wired". Given an adverse social-setting, human reaction is predictable. It is possible for individuals to take control of their destiny, and be good, but it is by no means easy. Peer-pressure on the young, and poverty make the choice to be crime-free, very hard, if not impossible. Those who are poor and starving have little regard for property-rights. The hungry place a low priority on legality, although the myth is strong in novels, movies and theatre, that righteousness will overcome temptation. In reality, self-preservation tends to assert itself.

3. Alienated Youth

Youth are isolated from the mainstream economy. They are alienated. More than that they are cheated, because much of the social surplus that could go to ease their pain on a per capita basis, gets redirected elsewhere into the pockets of older people. At national level, about 18% of the budget goes to debt repayment. At provincial level K32 million is spent on salaries of public employees (most of these are over 25 years old), out a budget of K38 million.

Although much of the national and provincial budget is targeted into the education, these economic benefits do not go to youth. The education budget is taken up by salaries and leave fares paid to employed teachers. So the most vulnerable percentile is ignored as a socio-political target of budgeting and political consciousness.

Alienated youth have no opportunities at all. They are people without a future. Within the customary system they find it harder to cope with older people. The antagonisms between age-groups have sharpened. Customary land is in short-supply. Arranged marriages are far more difficult. Village-life is dull and boring. Town land is so expensive that urban youth have no chance of owning a house of their own. Jobs are hard. When they are available, they are poorly paid, and often oppressive. Educate youth is not stupid; it will not work for peanuts, and tyrants. They move from job to job or drop-out. There is no opportunity at all for youth business because the competition from older and more experienced generations fighting for survival is so intense. In these circumstances, the way of the gun can appear quite rational, as it suggests there is simply no other way to get along within the current system of values.

3. Human rights abuses of youth.

Policing methods of the "colonial-raid" and and "the biff" have alienated much of the population. Few people support the police. Victims may go to the police, but this is a last resort. The police have "lost" it. Youth are amongst the worst sufferers of police human rights abuse. The beating of youth is all too common. Police openly beat youths in public. The newspapers carry the photographs. The Ombudsman Commission cites the police as being the top state institution for violating human rights. It is possible to view an inchoate rebellion of youth against state authority. Criminals in Milne Bay are organised, if at all, in only loose gangs, with no ideology as such, and only the most basic organisation. As we have seen in elsewhere, with similar demographics, that can change rapidly: Sri Lanka 1971, Kampuchea, Palestine, Bougainville. Young men get sucked into the "great-game" of war.

4 the dysfunctional system of justice

the justice sector is tottering in Milne Bay:

* there is no Judge in the province, so review of lower court actions is expensive and slow.

* there is no house for a judge

* courthouses are too small, and in bad repair.

* the legal and court procedures used are too slow, out of date, and a license for lawyers to mint money.

* there are no juries or assessors, so the system is elitist and undemocratic.

* the laws themselves are out of date, and unsuited to the circumstances of the province, we have a Queensland Criminal Code and New South Wales civil procedure.

* far too many people are sent to jail, and there is not enough non-custodial treatment.

* judicial review of administrative action is virtually impossible in Milne Bay, and in any case very expensive.

* there is no Ombudsman Commission, no ICCC complaints mechanism

* the division between criminal wrongs and civil wrongs is inappropriate.

* the lawyers monopoly is too expensive, they lock us into a medieval system, quite unsuitable for Milne Bay.

* there is no justice sector-planning, or coordination in the province