Last Updated: Thursday, 18 December 2014, 10:46 GMT

2012 Trafficking in Persons Report - Papua New Guinea

Publisher United States Department of State
Publication Date 19 June 2012
Cite as United States Department of State, 2012 Trafficking in Persons Report - Papua New Guinea, 19 June 2012, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4fe30ca141.html [accessed 18 December 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 and men are forced to labor in logging and mining camps. Children, especially young girls from tribal areas, are most vulnerable to commercial sexual exploitation; they are also subjected to forced labor by members of their immediate family or tribe. Families traditionally sell girls into forced marriages to settle 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 service 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 businesspeople arrange for some women to voluntarily enter Papua New Guinea with fraudulently issued tourist or business visas. Subsequent to their arrival, many of the women are turned over to traffickers who transport them to logging and mining camps, fisheries, and entertainment sites to exploit them in forced prostitution and domestic servitude. Foreign and local men are exploited for labor at commercial 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 exacerbate workers' indebtedness by paying substandard wages and charging artificially inflated prices at a the company's store. In such circumstances, an employee's only option becomes to buy food and other necessities on credit. Filipino men, brought into the country without proper documentation, may be exploited in the fishing industry. 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 overall low awareness of trafficking among many government officials, the government acknowledged that human trafficking was a problem in the country and expressed its commitment to increasing law enforcement's capacity to address it. It did not, however, enact legislation to criminalize all forms of trafficking, investigate or prosecute suspected trafficking offenders under existing laws, or identify or assist any trafficking victims during the year.

Recommendations for Papua New Guinea: Enact legislation prohibiting and punishing all forms of trafficking; investigate, prosecute, and punish trafficking offenders, including officials who facilitate or directly benefit from trafficking; develop and institute a formal procedure to identify victims of trafficking among vulnerable groups, such as individuals in prostitution and foreign women arriving for work in Papua New Guinea; train law enforcement officers to proactively identify victims and refer them to protective services; ensure that 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; increase collaboration with civil society, religious, and tribal leaders to raise awareness of and reduce demand for forced labor and commercial sex acts; and accede to the 2000 UN TIP Protocol.

Prosecution

The Government of Papua New Guinea did not demonstrate significant progress in its anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts during the year. Authorities did not report investigating, arresting, or prosecuting any trafficking offenders. Papua New Guinea's laws do not prohibit all forms of trafficking. In October 2011, tentative action was taken on draft anti-trafficking legislation that has been with the Department of Justice and Attorney General (DJAG) for a number of years. The legislation, which would amend the country's criminal code to include a provision prohibiting human trafficking, was endorsed by the National Executive Council and subsequently forwarded to the Office of the First Legislative Counsel for final approval. The office issued a certificate of compliance, but the certified bill must be resubmitted to the National Executive Council before submission to parliament, and this did not occur during the reporting period. Papua New Guinea's existing criminal code contains provisions prohibiting some forms of human trafficking, such as the trafficking of children for commercial sexual exploitation and slavery and the forced labor and slavery of adults. Its legal definition of forced labor, however, may exclude victims who initially agreed to a particular job, but were subsequently held through coercion. 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 under different definitions of forced prostitution of women. These offenses, including holding a woman in a brothel against her will, prescribe insufficiently stringent penalties of low fines or sentences of up to two years' imprisonment. 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 purpose of forced prostitution are sufficiently stringent. However, there is no indication that any of these statutes have been used to prosecute trafficking cases. Trafficking-related crimes in rural areas were referred to village courts, which administered customary law, rather than to criminal courts, and adjudicated cases resulted in restitution paid by the trafficking offender to the victim rather than criminal penalties assigned to the offender. Some victims of internal trafficking (or their parents) who received customary compensation payments from the offender were reluctant to notify police or bring additional criminal charges against traffickers.

Eight foreign individuals implicated in the production of child pornography, who may have also committed trafficking crimes, were placed in detention for immigration violations and an additional suspect was deported. The government took no action to criminally prosecute the alleged offenders or to protect suspected victims. The government did not train any police officers or front-line officials on trafficking during the year. During the year, the government cooperated with an international organization in the planning and implementation of anti-trafficking training provided to law enforcement officers and community members with the funding support of foreign donors. Wealthy businesspeople, politicians, and police officials who benefitted financially from the operation of commercial sex establishments were not prosecuted. Law enforcement agencies were underfunded, and most government offices remained weak as the result of corruption, cronyism, a lack of accountability, and a promotion system based on patronage. The government did not investigate or prosecute any government officials for complicity in trafficking-related crimes during the year, including a senior police officer implicated in the child pornography case.

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, nor did it refer victims to NGO service providers. It did not operate any victim care facilities for trafficking victims. Shelters run by NGOs may be available to trafficking victims, but none of these organizations reported identifying or assisting any victims of trafficking during the year. The government did not provide funding to any international organizations or NGOs to assist 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, who may have been prosecuted for violation of the country's prostitution laws. While laws are in place to 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. Fifty Filipino men, brought illegally to Papua New Guinea as fisherman for a local government company, are currently stranded, facing arrest if they attempt to leave the country without proper documentation. No efforts have been made to determine whether these men were trafficking victims. 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 Government of Papua New Guinea initiated modest efforts to prevent human trafficking. The government did not conduct any public awareness campaigns on the dangers of human trafficking. From February through May 2011, the DJAG, in partnership with an international organization and with funding from a foreign donor, conducted research on human trafficking in four provinces. This research is expected to yield a report on the occurrence and nature of human trafficking and human smuggling in the country, with recommendations for future government actions to address these problems. The national human trafficking committee, chaired by the DJAG and including members from other government agencies as well as international organizations and NGOs, held only two of its four regularly-scheduled meetings during the reporting period. The committee did not report taking any additional actions during the year and attendance at its meetings remained poor. The government took no discernible actions to decrease the demand for forced labor or commercial sex acts, and it did not provide anti-trafficking training to Papua New Guinean troops prior to their deployment abroad on international peacekeeping missions. Papua New Guinea is not a party to the 2000 UN TIP Protocol.

Search Refworld

Countries