Last Updated: Friday, 27 May 2016, 08:49 GMT

Trafficking in Persons Report 2008 - Papua New Guinea

Publisher United States Department of State
Author Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons
Publication Date 4 June 2008
Cite as United States Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report 2008 - Papua New Guinea, 4 June 2008, available at: [accessed 27 May 2016]
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.


Papua New Guinea is a country of destination for women and children from Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, and the People's Republic of China (P.R.C.), trafficked for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation to brothels in the capital and at isolated logging and mining camps. Some foreign women travel to Papua New Guinea willingly on tourist or business visas and may be aware they will engage in prostitution. Upon arrival, they are dispersed to various nightclubs, bars, or employee dormitories, and some may end up in a situation of involuntary servitude. Some of the logging camps bring Asian women into Papua New Guinea by indicating in their visa applications that they will work as cooks or secretaries. It is unclear whether these women are aware they will be induced into sexual servitude. Internal trafficking of women and children for the purposes of sexual exploitation and involuntary domestic servitude occurs. Women are occasionally sold as brides. Children are held in indentured servitude either as a means of paying a family debt or because the natural parents cannot afford to support the child. Some children may be given to another family of greater wealth to serve as a housekeeper or nanny – a practice that can lead to trafficking in persons. Children in prostitution are common in the bars and nightclubs in the larger cities. There are no official statistics kept on trafficking of persons, mainly because of the tendency of the communities to remain silent about the problem.

The Government of Papua New Guinea does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so. While the government is becoming aware of trafficking as a challenge distinct from sexual violence or human smuggling, its current legal framework does not contain elements of crimes that characterize trafficking. Due to the lack of a legal definition of trafficking in persons, as well as resource constraints, no one has been arrested, prosecuted, or convicted for trafficking in persons, and there have not been any anti-trafficking operations conducted by any law enforcement agency. The government lacks victim protection services or a systematic procedure to identify victims of trafficking from among vulnerable populations, such as foreign women arrested for prostitution or children in prostitution.

Recommendations for Papua New Guinea: Work with international experts and donors as necessary to formulate anti-trafficking legislation that prohibits all forms of trafficking; collaborate with civil society, religious, and tribal leaders to raise awareness about trafficking, including the need to address demand; coordinate with the international community as appropriate to develop and institute a formal procedure to identify victims of trafficking among vulnerable groups such as foreign women arrested for prostitution; ensure that victims of trafficking are not arrested, deported, or otherwise punished for acts committed as a result of being trafficked; and train law enforcement officers on victim identification and protection.


The Government of Papua New Guinea did not report any progress in prosecuting or punishing trafficking offenses over the last year. Although Papua New Guinean law does not prohibit all forms of trafficking, its criminal code prohibits the trafficking of children for commercial sexual exploitation, slavery, and abduction. There are no specific penalties for crimes of trafficking adults for commercial sexual exploitation. While the penal code statute on slavery mentions trafficking, it does not specifically define its elements for the purpose of prosecution. There are no prescribed penalties for trafficking for sexual exploitation. The criminal code does not contain laws specifically addressing labor recruiters who engage in recruitment of laborers using knowingly fraudulent or deceptive offers to lure workers for the purpose of involuntary servitude. The government has not prosecuted anyone over the past year for trafficking. Prostitution is illegal in Papua New Guinea, but the laws are either selectively or rarely enforced, even with children who are victims of sex trafficking. Most internal trafficking-related crimes occur in rural areas and are referred to village courts which administer customary, rather than criminal law, resolving more cases through restitution paid to the victim. Rural complainants usually do not know about the law and the courts and are unable to access appropriate legal institutions, including the police. Wealthy business people, politicians, and members of the police are complicit in profiting from the operation of establishments profiting from prostitution. Police rarely raid them and when they do, the owners are frequently tipped off beforehand; those arrested are rarely prosecuted. Trafficking-related corruption seems to be most serious in the remote logging camps along the north coast. No public officials were investigated or prosecuted for trafficking-related crimes.


The Government of Papua New Guinea demonstrated limited efforts to protect or assist victims of trafficking. Due to severe resource constraints, the government relies on services provided by international organizations or NGOs. The government does not undertake efforts to proactively identify trafficking victims among vulnerable populations. The government does not provide any specialized training for government officials in recognizing trafficking or providing assistance to victims. Government officials would likely refer the victim to social groups, churches, or NGOs for assistance. Victims of internal trafficking often receive compensation payments from their exploiter in the form of cash or livestock, which is culturally acceptable in Papua New Guinea, and are therefore hesitant to bring charges against traffickers. The legislature recently passed the Lukautim Pikinini Act, formerly the Child Welfare Act of 2007, which promotes the rights and well-being of children and addresses the issues of identifying and removing children from women in sexual and forced labor exploitative situation. The Papua New Guinea Children's Foundation published a National Action Plan Against Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children, but both initiatives face potential problems of funding and enforcement.


The Government of Papua New Guinea relied on international organizations and NGOs to conduct awareness activities about child prostitution, HIV/ AIDS, and domestic violence. There have been no public awareness campaigns about trafficking in persons or efforts to reduce demand for commercial sex acts. Papua New Guinea has not ratified the 2000 UN TIP Protocol.

Papua New Guinea tier ranking by year

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