PAPUA New Guinea’s Supreme Court ruled in October that the police commissioner has the authority to issue directions to police officers on their handling of criminal investigations.

The move was welcomed by attorney general Ano Pala and described in a government statement as a “significant and positive” step forward in the administration of the police force.

“So often the work and conduct of the police has been undermined and these rulings…by the higher courts have shed clarity on the commissioner’s powers,” the statement said.

The police commissioner will be able to issue directions for arrest and search warrants, laying charges and the presentation of information.

He will now be able to direct his officers to withdraw an arrest warrant or do so by way of judicial review in a national court.

“It is now up to the police commissioner to exercise his powers. That decision he alone makes,” the government statement said.

The court also ruled that the police commissioner has the standing to challenge any warrant of arrest in a superior court.