Last Updated: Thursday, 30 October 2014, 14:31 GMT

Amnesty International Report 2006 - Papua New Guinea

Publisher Amnesty International
Publication Date 23 May 2006
Cite as Amnesty International, Amnesty International Report 2006 - Papua New Guinea, 23 May 2006, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/447ff7b52.html [accessed 31 October 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Law and order problems continued to impact on the enjoyment of fundamental rights and access to basic services. Police proved unable or unwilling to prevent or effectively investigate most incidents of violence in the home and general community. Public confidence in the police was further undermined by numerous allegations of police abuses, including torture. Women and children were particularly vulnerable to violence.

Background

Celebrations in September to mark 30 years of independence were tempered by concerns over the development challenges facing the country. Access to basic services remained poor, literacy rates were low, and corruption was endemic. The HIV/AIDS epidemic posed a major threat to growth and stability.

Women continued to be grossly underrepresented in national and provincial parliaments, the police force, judiciary, village courts and other decision-making bodies.

The mandate of the UN Observer Mission in Bougainville expired in June. This followed the installation of a newly elected autonomous government led by former separatist leader Joseph Kabui. Under the UN-brokered peace deal, a referendum on independence for Bougainville will be held within 15 years.

Law and order problems

Although police reported a decrease in the crime rate relative to 2004, the number of reported crimes, including rapes and murders, remained high. Port Moresby and the Western Highlands were worst affected. The resultant fear, especially among women, restricted freedom of movement and limited access to basic services.

Police were generally ineffective in addressing crime and often cited resource constraints for their failure to investigate complaints properly. Escapes from police custody and prisons were common. In January and February alone, 131 prisoners escaped in three separate mass breakouts.

Conflict over land and resources often fuelled violence. Tribal fighting was reported in at least six provinces and resulted in deaths, destruction of property and displacement.

In response to growing concern over the use of illegal firearms, many originating from police, military and corrective services armouries, the government conducted a public awareness campaign and held a summit in June. A report recommending a series of legislative and policy reforms was presented to government in November.

Australian police deployed under a 2004 bilateral agreement were withdrawn in May when the Supreme Court ruled that laws granting them immunity from prosecution were unconstitutional. Plans were agreed for a smaller contingent to return with a more limited mandate.

Violations by the police

In response to reports that police continued to use excessive force during arrests, and engaged in torture, including rape, against suspects, both the Internal Security Minister and Police Commissioner conceded that police brutality occurred. The Minister promised reform, while the Commissioner cited figures demonstrating that officers were disciplined when complaints could be substantiated. Nonetheless, there was little public confidence in existing accountability mechanisms, which lacked independence and transparency and had failed to deter police violence.

  • In November at least one person was killed and at least 18 students were injured when police opened fire on students at a school near Porgera. Police were reportedly at the school to arrest the headmaster when students began to throw stones. A criminal investigation into the shootings was initiated.
  • No police officers were known to have faced criminal proceedings for their role in the rape and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of women and girls arrested during a raid on Three Mile Guest House in Port Moresby in March 2004.

Violence against women

Information gathered from women's organizations, hospitals and police indicated that domestic violence and rape were widespread. Counselling and health care facilities for victims of violence, particularly outside major towns, were generally non-existent. The widespread violence exacerbated women's vulnerability to HIV/AIDS.

Weaknesses in the formal justice sector and male-dominated "traditional" justice mechanisms severely limited women's access to redress. Only a small percentage of cases of violence against women progressed through the formal justice system. Most incidents, including gang-rapes, were not reported or investigated and many were resolved privately with the payment of compensation to the victim's family.

AI country visits

An AI delegate visited Papua New Guinea in October.

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