Monday 29 June 2020
Commissioner of Police and Controller David Manning, issued directives for separate investigations into the police handling of 19-year-old Ms. Jennelyn Kennedy’s case in the two years leading up to her death.
Mr Manning says it appears from initial reports that Jennelyn was allegedly living in an abusive relationship with her partner, Bhosip Kaiwi for over two years.
“What did the authorities, especially police do to protect Jennelyn? Why weren’t interventions made at various stages of this abusive relationship? Where were family members when Jennelyn was tortured during the last five days of her life?
“These are questions that need to be asked and answers found. Weaknesses within our systems, be it with the police, legal, welfare or courts need to be identified now and changed or removed to ensure that our womenfolk are better protected from such violence,” Mr Manning said.
Mr Manning was today provided a brief by the Port Moresby Family & Sexual Violence Unit (FSVU) which detailed what transpired in the three months prior to Jennelyn’s death:
As per the FSVU brief, below is the sequence of events that occurred:
- Jennelyn first approached their office in town on April 20 this year. Members of the FSVU tried to put her in a safe house but she decided to go to her friend’s house at Touaguba Hill. She was transported there by members of the FSVU;
- May 2 she was rescued by members of the FSVU from her friend’s house at Touaguba Hill and brought to Femili PNG. (Femili PNG is a local NGO based in Lae and Port Moresby that runs Case Management Centres to assist survivors of family and sexual violence to access the services they need. Its target population is women, men or children who are survivors of intimate partner violence, sexual violence and/or child abuse.);
- May 12 2020, an Interim Protection Order was secured and served on Bhosip at the FSVU office in Boroko by the case officer;
- May 13 Jennelyn decides to leave the Safe House;
- May 15 she was reported to have presented a letter to the case officer to withdraw the case. The case officer told Jennelyn that this was not possible and that the case would proceed;
- On 18 May Jennelyn and a woman identified as “her sister” took the letter to the Director of the FSVU seeking to have the case withdrawn. Again, her request was declined. She was warned of the consequences should the complaint be withdrawn. She was advised that her case would go ahead and her partner will be arrested and charged;
- May 26 the case officer called Bhosip but he did not answer the telephone. Instead he had his lawyer call the case officer. The case officer told the lawyer to bring his client into the station for him to be interviewed. The lawyer asks the case officer if he had seen the letter from Jennelyn withdrawing the complaint. The case officer said he was not aware of the letter and asked the lawyer instead to bring his client in. The lawyer said he would but did not do so until today.
Mr Manning said, “I am concerned if we as a police service had done enough for Jennelyn.
“I am concerned if our laws are adequate to deal with such cases. Why did Jennelyn decide to come out of the Safe House? Why did we take months to even attempt to arrest Bhosip? There is also the question of long term support for the victims. Are our systems adequate to not only protect our women but sustain their livelihoods in the long run? Victims of family and sexual violence more often come out with no-one to support them financially hence most end up going back into the abusive relationships.
“After the findings of this inquiry I will be calling for a forum with all stakeholders to look at ways to strengthen the law if need be, ensure the police are more responsive and accountable when dealing with such cases, and to push for the state to provide long term support system for victims of family and sexual violence,” Mr Manning said..
He added that many victims of family and sexual violence withdraw their complaints because the abuser is the main provider.
“Going forward, should a woman report her husband for abuse the state must step in and financially support the woman. Until and unless we have such a support system in place women such as Jennelyn will continue to suffer in silence,” Mr Manning said.
Media contact: Chief Superintendent Dominic D. Kakas, BEM, DPS
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