A former Commissioner of Police (COMPOL), Joshua Bong, has questioned certain decisions by the current COMPOL, Robson Iavro, over alleged conflict of interests and malpractices in certain police cases.

Bong said there are significant decisions made by COMPOL Iavro, which raised eyebrows within the Vanuatu Police Force (VPF) and the general public at large.

Bong alleged some of these issues are pure conflict of interests and of malpractices by the police.

He alleged there are some cases of malpractices that are seen in police cases, and referred to the case of two young female recruits.

“The first case involved a female Police Constable who was part of the ‘Recruitment of 2/2019′ and the second case that involved another female from the recruitment of 2/2021,” he stated.

“One is related to one of the senior police officer of Police College and the other related to police commissioner himself. Both recruits were pregnant and despite their medical reports that confirmed their pregnancies, one of them was kept in the Police College, to further her police training till she graduated and delivered her child afterwards, while the other one although was medically confirmed to be 5 months old pregnant, underwent her training until the date”.

Bong claimed both female candidates did not undertake similar trainings like their other colleagues because of their state.

He said the Commissioner’s attitude reflects a conflict of interest and called on the government to remove him and launch an investigation.

The Police Act [CAP105]; Section 16 on Recruit Training states, “No probationary constable shall be invested with the powers and duties of his office. Every probation constable shall be required to complete a period of training in such from and such duration as shall be determined by the Commissioner. In accordance with the provisions of this or any other Act for the time being in force until he has successfully completed the period of the training provided for in subsection (1) and has made the declaration provided for in section 17”.

Section 17, Declaration states “Upon completion of the training provided for in section 16 (1) a probationary constable shall make and sign before a senior officer a declaration in the following from – “ I swear to obey the officers placed in command over me in all matters concerning the services  to which I am appointed and, in the performance of my duties, only to use the powers given to me for the maintenance of public order and the enforcement of the law”

Bong states within the Police Act Cap 105, Part 2 – on Services, it clearly states in Joint Rules 7 of 1980 Police Rules. 3. Qualifications for appointment;

(1)  A candidate for the appointment to the force shall –

(a)  Have reached the age of 18 years and shall not be over the age of 30 years;

(b)  Be certified by a government medical officer to be in good health, of sound constitution and fitted both physically and mentally to perform the duties on which he will be employed after appointment;

(c)   Have a minimum height of 1.70 meters (5 feet 8 inches);

(d)  Have a minimum education certificate of a senior Primary Certificate or a Certificate d’Etudes Primaire or pass a Police Entrance Examination;

(e)  Be of good moral character.

(2)  The Police Service Commission may, acting on the recommendation of the Commissioner, approve the dispensing of one or more of the conditions prescribed in sub rule (1) when they consider that a candidate has special qualifications of value to the Force.

Meanwhile, Bong said in regards to the recruitment of 2019, on February 2019, 1/2019 recruitment, that was conducted with relevant modules delivered it resulted in 60 candidates who have been recruited into the police force.

During the graduation ceremony, some of these new recruits left the premises on that particular night for social activities. Unfortunately, on the following day, seven (7) officers were terminated for breaching the code of conduct.

“These recruit officers were never given a warning or a second chance,” he said. “They were dismissed for breach of recruit conduct.

“These issues of concern do not only impact the recruitment code of conduct, but was also a waste of funds spent from the training, selection and the recruitment processes. They were unfortunately dismissed and missed their graduation, while the two female privileged officers remained.

“The Police Act [CAP105], does not give authority to any other officers in the Force, except for the Commissioner of Police, to make decisions for the discipline of recruits in training. The authority is limited as there are procedures to follow, prior to dismissal or termination of recruits for breach of the recruit code of conduct.”

Bong stressed his concerns, after his findings and said that although these issues have been brought before COMPOL Iavro for consideration, nothing about or nothing has been done to redress those issues.

In response, the Office of incumbent COMPOL Iavro has dismissed Bong’s allegations as baseless.

The Office denied that the female officer mentioned is related to the Commissioner, and clarified the new recruits were disciplined because they breached the code of conduct while they were in training.

In relation to the medical certificate and the two female recruits, the COMPOL’s Office said the medical certificate did not identify the that they were pregnant but rather, it was determined while they were already in training.

It further stressed the Police Act is silent over the pregnancy aspect, thus the two female officers cannot be disciplined for this.

Emphasis was put on the fact that the current Commissioner wants to see more female officers in the Vanuatu Police Force.