Last Updated: Thursday, 24 April 2014, 11:39 GMT

2011 Trafficking in Persons Report - Papua New Guinea

Publisher United States Department of State
Publication Date 27 June 2011
Cite as United States Department of State, 2011 Trafficking in Persons Report - Papua New Guinea, 27 June 2011, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4e12ee5437.html [accessed 25 April 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.

Papua New Guinea (Tier 3)

Papua New Guinea is a source, destination, and transit country for men, women, and children subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor. Women and children are subjected to sex trafficking and domestic servitude; trafficked men are forced to labor in logging and mining camps. Children, especially young girls from tribal areas, are most vulnerable to commercial sexual exploitation or subjected to forced labor by members of their immediate family or tribe. Families traditionally sell girls into forced marriages to settle their debts, leaving them vulnerable to forced domestic service, and tribal leaders trade the exploitative labor and service of girls and women for guns and political advantage. Young girls sold into marriage are often forced into domestic servitude for the husband's extended family. In more urban areas, some children from poorer families are prostituted by their parents or sold to brothels. Migrant women and teenage girls from Malaysia, Thailand, China, and the Philippines are subjected to sex trafficking and men from China are transported to the country for forced labor.

Asian crime rings, foreign logging companies, and foreign businessmen arrange for some women to voluntarily enter Papua New Guinea with fraudulently issued tourist or business visas. Subsequent to their arrival, smugglers turn many of the women over to traffickers who transport them to logging and mining camps, fisheries, and entertainment sites where they are exploited in forced prostitution and domestic servitude. Foreign and local men are exploited for labor at mines and logging camps, where some receive almost no pay and are compelled to continue working for the company indefinitely through debt bondage schemes. Employers foster workers' greater indebtedness to the company by paying the workers sub-standard wages while charging them artificially inflated prices at the company store; employees' only option becomes to buy food and other necessities on credit. 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. Despite the government's acknowledgement of trafficking as a problem in the country, the government did not investigate any suspected trafficking offenses, prosecute or convict any trafficking offenders under existing laws, address allegations of officials complicit in human trafficking crimes, or identify or assist any trafficking victims during the year.

Recommendations for Papua New Guinea: Complete drafting, passage, and enactment of legislation prohibiting and punishing all forms of trafficking; investigate, prosecute, and punish officials who facilitate or directly benefit from trafficking; develop and institute a formal procedure to identify victims of trafficking among vulnerable groups, such as children in prostitution and foreign women arriving for work in Papua New Guinea; train law enforcement officers to proactively identify and protect victims; ensure victims of trafficking are not arrested, deported, or otherwise punished for acts committed as a direct result of being trafficked; work with NGOs and international organizations to increase protective services to victims of trafficking; and increase collaboration with civil society, religious, and tribal leaders to raise awareness of and reduce demand for forced labor and commercial sex acts.

Prosecution

The Government of Papua New Guinea failed to show progress in its anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts during the year. Authorities did not report efforts to investigate any trafficking crimes or arrest or prosecute any trafficking offenders during the year. Furthermore, the government did not systematically monitor its anti-trafficking efforts. Papua New Guinea does not have a comprehensive anti-trafficking law, and the penal code does not prohibit all forms of trafficking. Its criminal code prohibits forced labor and slavery, though the legal definition for "forced labor" may exclude victims who initially agreed to a particular job, only to be subsequently held through coercion. While it prohibits trafficking of children for commercial sexual exploitation and slavery, it does not prohibit the trafficking of adults. Penalties prescribed for the crime of child trafficking are up to life imprisonment, and are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with penalties prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. The criminal code prescribes various penalties for the forced prostitution of women. Low fines or sentences of up to two years' imprisonment for these offenses, including holding a woman in a brothel against her will, are not sufficiently stringent. Prescribed penalties of up to seven years' imprisonment for perpetrators who use fraud, violence, threats, abuse of authority, or drugs to procure a person for purposes of forced prostitution are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with penalties prescribed for other serious crimes. There is no indication that any of these statutes have been used to prosecute trafficking cases. The Ministry of Justice continued deliberations on a comprehensive anti-trafficking law for another year. Trafficking-related crimes in rural areas were referred to village courts, which administered customary law, rather than criminal law, and adjudicated cases through restitution paid by the trafficking offender to the victim rather than criminal penalties assigned to the offender. Survivors of internal trafficking sometimes reportedly received customary compensation payments from the offender and were reluctant to notify police or bring additional criminal charges against their traffickers. The government did not train any police officers or front-line officials on trafficking during the year. Wealthy business people, politicians, and police officials who benefit financially from the operation of commercial sex establishments were not prosecuted. Most law enforcement and other government offices remained weak as the result of corruption, cronyism, a lack of accountability, and a promotion system based on patronage. While government officials made public statements recognizing corruption, such as border control officials allowing foreigners to enter the country without documentation and to conduct illegal activities, the government made no discernible efforts to investigate or prosecute trafficking-related complicity, and some provincial officials expressed frustration at the lack of efforts to address trafficking-related corruption.

Protection

The Government of Papua New Guinea did not make any efforts to identify or assist victims of trafficking during the reporting period. The government did not proactively identify trafficking victims among vulnerable populations, and did not regularly refer victims to NGO service providers. It did not operate any victim care facilities for trafficking victims. Due to resource constraints, the government relied on NGOs to assist victims of crime, though none of these organizations reported identifying or assisting any victims of trafficking during the year. The government has yet to provide funding to any international organizations or NGOs to work with trafficking victims. Due to poor victim identification by authorities, potential victims who came to the attention of police may have been punished for crimes committed as a direct result of being trafficked; this was especially true for victims of sex trafficking. While laws protect sex trafficking victims from being penalized for unlawful acts they might have committed as a direct consequence of their being trafficked, there are no such provisions for victims of forced labor. The government did not offer legal alternatives to the removal of foreign victims of trafficking to countries where they may face hardship or retribution.

Prevention

During the past year, the Papua New Guinean government made no significant efforts to prevent human trafficking. In November 2010, the government participated in a foreign-funded workshop in the Solomon Islands to share information with the Solomon Islands government on human trafficking. Officials took modest steps to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts through public awareness campaigns against prostitution and the country's growing HIV/ AIDS epidemic. The Papua New Guinean Department of Justice and Attorney General led the Interagency National Human Trafficking Committee with the support of IOM, and provided comments on the draft human trafficking law, though it reported doing little else during the year. While some government offices agreed to be members of the Committee, attendance was often poor. Papua New Guinea is not a party to the 2000 UN TIP Protocol.

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