MELBOURNE, Australia (AA) – An international rights group called for an “impartial, thorough and transparent investigation” Wednesday amid reports that four people were killed after police in Papua New Guinea (PNG) fired at protesting students.
The deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch described the police’s reported shooting of students in Port Moresby as “a truly terrible incident for which all security officials responsible for using lethal force unnecessarily need to be brought to justice”.
“Prime Minister Peter O’Neill should immediately launch an impartial, thorough and transparent investigation, and all officials found criminally culpable for orders and actions resulting in injuries and deaths should be held to account, no matter what their rank,” Phil Robertson said in a statement.
Australian news broadcaster ABC reported that PNG’s parliament was told that four people were killed during the incident, which witnesses said broke out after police blocked protesting students from marching to the legislature.
At least 13 students were reportedly receiving treatment for injuries, and the fatalities have yet to be confirmed.
Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop has called for calm and said she plans to contact her counterpart in the neighboring country.
"We call on all sides for calm to de-escalate the tensions and certainly call on all sides to respect the peaceful and lawful right to protest,” the Australian Associated Press quoted her telling reporters in Brisbane.
“We will be monitoring the situation closely," she added.
The protests have been ongoing for five weeks, with students voicing opposition over how the prime minister has been addressing the management of the economy and allegations of graft.