Trafficking in Persons Report 2009 - Papua New Guinea
|Publisher||United States Department of State|
|Publication Date||16 June 2009|
|Cite as||United States Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report 2009 - Papua New Guinea, 16 June 2009, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4a42149ac.html [accessed 22 July 2014]|
PAPUA NEW GUINEA (Tier 3)
Papua New Guinea is a source, destination, and transit country for men, women, and children trafficked for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation and forced labor. Women and children are trafficked within the country for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation and domestic servitude; men are trafficked to logging and mining camps for the purpose of forced labor. Women and children from Malaysia, Thailand, the People's Republic of China (PRC), and the Philippines are trafficked to Papua New Guinea for forced prostitution and PRC men are trafficked to the country for forced labor. Chinese organized crime groups still may traffic some Asian women and girls through Papua New Guinea to Australia, Indonesia, New Zealand, and other countries for forced prostitution and forced labor, though less frequently than in the past. Unique and enduring cultural practices in Papua New Guinea reinforce the perception of females and children as commodities – families often sell minor girls into marriages to settle their debts; tribes trade females for guns and political advantage; men compensate the relatives of a girl they have raped with a payment of pigs. Young girls sold into marriage are often also forced into domestic servitude for the husband's extended family. The majority of foreign victims voluntarily migrate to Papua New Guinea with valid passports and visas, lured by Chinese organized crime units, foreign logging companies, and Papuan businessmen with false offers to work as engineers, secretaries, cooks, and guards. After arrival in Papua New Guinea, most of the female victims are coerced into prostitution and domestic servitude at logging and mining camps. Foreign and Papuan men are more often exploited for labor at the camps. They work excessive hours in dangerous conditions, frequently with little or no safety gear. Many of these men are also compelled to continue working for the company indefinitely through induced debt bondage. Employers escalate the victims' indebtedness to the company by cutting workers' agreed-upon wages, taking unjustifiable payroll deductions and artificially inflating prices at the only place in the region employees can buy food, the company store. Government officials facilitate trafficking by accepting bribes to allow illegal migrants to enter the country or to ignore victims forced into prostitution or labor, by receiving female trafficking victims in return for political favors, and by providing female victims in return for votes.
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. The government acknowledges the existence of forced labor in PNG, but denies the widespread sex trafficking of women and children. Some corrupt government and law enforcement officials accept bribes to ignore trafficking-related activity. Despite evidence of a trafficking problem, to date no suspected trafficking offender has been arrested, prosecuted, or convicted of a human trafficking offense. The government lacks a systematic procedure to identify victims of trafficking in vulnerable populations, such as foreign women or children in prostitution, and has done little to prevent trafficking in Papua New Guinea.
Recommendations for Papua New Guinea: Continue the process of drafting and enacting legislation that prohibits and punishes all forms of trafficking; increase collaboration with civil society, religious, and tribal leaders to raise awareness about trafficking, including the need to reduce demand for forced labor and commercial sex acts; investigate, prosecute and punish officials who facilitate or benefit from trafficking; develop and institute a formal procedure to identify victims of trafficking among vulnerable groups; ensure victims of trafficking are not arrested, deported, or otherwise punished for acts committed as a direct result of being trafficked; and train law enforcement officers on victim identification and protection.
The Government of Papua New Guinea reported minimal progress in law enforcement efforts against trafficking offenders over the last year. The penal code of Papua New Guinea does not prohibit all forms of trafficking. Its criminal code, which does not prohibit the trafficking of adults, prohibits the trafficking of children for commercial sexual exploitation, slavery, and abduction. Labor laws prohibit fraudulent recruiting and employment practices, and prescribe weak penalties for offenders. Prostitution is prohibited in Papua New Guinea, but the relevant laws are either selectively or rarely enforced even in cases involving of children. In August 2008, the Transnational Crime Unit rescued a group of about 20 women forced to work in prostitution at a Chinese restaurant; no charges were filed against their alleged trafficker as none of the women would cooperate with police investigators. Trafficking-related crimes in rural areas were referred to village courts which administered customary law, rather than criminal law, and resolved cases through restitution paid to the victim, rather than through criminal penalties assigned to the trafficking offender. Wealthy business people, politicians, and police officials who benefit financially from the operation of establishments profiting from sex trafficking were not investigated or prosecuted. Most government offices and law enforcement agencies remained weak as the result of corruption, cronyism, a lack of accountability, and a promotion system based on patronage. In 2008, the government arranged for expert assistance with the drafting of a comprehensive anti-trafficking law, and began coordinating multi-agency preparations and contributions to the process.
The Government of Papua New Guinea demonstrated increasing efforts to protect and assist victims of trafficking. Due to severe resource constraints, the government continued to rely on international organizations or NGOs to provide victim services. The government contributed funds to a shelter for victims of domestic violence in Port Moresby run by an NGO, which could provide shelter and some legal aid to trafficking victims, although it did not do so during the year. Women's shelters in Port Moresby and Lae could also house foreign and local victims. The Department of Health, with NGO assistance, set up support centers in hospitals throughout the country for victims of domestic violence which could provide trafficking victims with direct counseling and outpatient services, although not long-term care. The government did not proactively identify trafficking victims among vulnerable populations. When potential victims of trafficking sought assistance from the government, they were often jailed, and some were sexually abused by police officers. Immigration inspectors routinely refused entry to potential trafficking victims identified at the borders. Other government officials, however, would more likely refer identified victims to social groups, churches, or NGOs for assistance. Rescued victims of internal trafficking often received compensation payments of cash or pigs from the offender, which is culturally acceptable in Papua New Guinea, and were reluctant to then notify police and bring additional criminal charges against their traffickers.
The government continued to rely on international organizations and NGOs for the bulk of its trafficking prevention activities, such as efforts to raise public awareness about trafficking combined with education campaigns on child prostitution, HIV/AIDS, and domestic violence. The government increased cooperation with Australian and New Zealand Federal Police, as well as other international law enforcement and customs agencies, to draft laws, investigate, and prevent transnational crimes including human trafficking. The government made some effort to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts as a way to halt the spread of HIV/AIDS. The government acknowledged that prostitution and child pornography are problems that need to be addressed. Papua New Guinea has not ratified the 2000 UN TIP Protocol.