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TITLE: PAPUA NEW GUINEA HUMAN RIGHTS PRACTICES, 1993 DATE: JANUARY 31, 1994 AUTHOR: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE PAPUA NEW GUINEA Papua New Guinea (PNG), with some 1,000 tribes and over 800 distinct languages for a population of about 4 million, is one of the world's most diverse societies. It has a federal parliamentary system based on universal adult suffrage. There have been five constitutional and peaceful transfers of power since it achieved independence in 1975. The Constitution resembles those of other English-speaking parliamentary democracies and emphasizes respect for individual rights. The Government has constitutional authority over the armed forces (PNGDF), police, and intelligence organizations. However, weak PNGDF discipline has led to human rights abuses involving civilian communities near military bases and on Bougainville island. Similar problems continue to plague the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary, the country's only police force. The economy is characterized by a relatively small but modern free enterprise sector, heavily dependent on foreign investment, and a traditional subsistence sector that supports over 80 percent of the population. The modern sector produces most of the wealth and, normally, slightly less than 80 percent of government revenue, with the balance of the budget needs made up by assistance, including a cash grant from Australia. Prime Minister Wingti has given priority to resolving the crisis in Bougainville Island, the last redoubt of secessionist insurgents, and to reestablishing law and order. Despite an increased commitment of financial and military resources and a general decrease in violence on the island during 1993, a political solution to the Bougainville crisis remained elusive at year's end. During the year, the Government continued to extend its control over Bougainville, partly because Bougainvilleans called for a restoration of public services and partly because of popular revulsion against human rights violations perpetrated by members of the Bougainville Revolutionary Army (BRA). In 1993 efforts to control an exceptionally high crime rate led Parliament to strengthen anticrime law and to pass the Internal Security Act which legal experts attacked because of its threat to internationally recognized rights, including those of freedom of expression, association, and movement. The Prime Minister has also taken the necessary first steps to amend the Constitution to shift the onus of proof to the defendant in cases of armed robbery, kidnaping, murder, and rape and to establish a national identification system. At year's end, the proposed amendments were awaiting parliamentary action. In October the Ombudsman filed a suit against the Internal Security Act, charging that it was unconstitutional. The Supreme Court heard the case in November. The ruling had not yet been issued at year's end. The major human rights abuses continued to be extrajudicial killings by security forces and insurgents on Bougainville, physical abuse of detainees and prisoners by police, extensive discrimination against women, and a culture of violence, including rape. RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS Section 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom from: a. Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing In Bougainville there continue to be credible reports of instances where either the PNGDF or the resistance have executed alleged BRA members or their supporters. In February, as security forces moved into the former North Solomons provincial capital of Arawa, they confirmed the removal of three patients from the local hospital, including Ken Savia, a member of the province's suspended government and a minister in the "interim" government supportive of the BRA. Although little is known of what happened to the other two persons (see Section 1.b.), there are credible reports that either the security forces themselves or the resistance forces associated with them executed Savia, perhaps in retribution for the killing of eight PNGDF soldiers during the Arawa operation. In August, in Buka, BRA insurgent Moses Tseraha was also killed. According to official sources, he was ambushed after slipping into Buka from Bougainville to conduct operations against the community's infrastructure and government representatives. Other reports indicate that he had entered Buka to arrange his surrender but was instead hunted down and executed by the security forces. A BRA spokesman claimed that security forces were responsible for the August deaths of five men from Matukori village in the Siwai area, three of whom were allegedly thrown into the sea from a helicopter, and the deaths of five civilians in September at the Tabago Care Center in southern Bougainville. However, the three men allegedly thrown from the helicopter appeared alive on national television in December. The judiciary has so far taken few steps to investigate allegations of security force atrocities relating to the Bougainville conflict, although the magistrate system was reestablished in Buka during the year and government control extended throughout much of the island. No progress has been publicly reported in an inquest ordered in 1991 by former Attorney General Narokobi into the deaths of 11 persons in North Solomons Province in 1989 and 1990. Government sources hold the BRA responsible for 13 deaths of PNGDF personnel and the deaths of at least 2 policemen. There are also credible reports that the BRA killed civilians. In one case, the Government reported that in a 6-day period in January, the BRA killed 17 civilians as they traveled to and from their garden plots. Outside of Bougainville, a national court in Rabaul sentenced four policemen to 14 years each for the 1992 murder of a plantation worker. In October a PNGDF soldier was formally charged in the death of another soldier. b. Disappearance Security forces are believed responsible for the February disappearance of two patients removed from the Arawa hospital along with Ken Savia (see Section 1.a.). There were also credible allegations of BRA-perpetrated disappearances in rebel-held areas. c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment The Constitution forbids torture and other cruel or degrading treatment or punishment. Reliable reports nonetheless continue to suggest that PNG security forces (PNG soldiers, police, and correctional personnel), as well as BRA insurgents on Bougainville, engage in such practices. Reports of torture or other abuse by the PNGDF on Bougainville originating with BRA rebels or sympathizers are frequently exaggerated. Such reports, however, cannot be dismissed out of hand, given the PNGDF's difficulty in maintaining discipline. PNGDF soldiers were implicated in the burning down of a Port Moresby club, apparently in revenge following the death of one of their members. Instances of torture and abuse by PNG police were reported from regions throughout PNG in 1993, reflecting continued weakness in Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary discipline and lack of respect for human rights. Villagers in the Yangora region of East Sepik Province, for example, complained of police brutality during a raid early in the year when police also allegedly burned their homes. In July police were also accused of staging revenge raids against squatter settlements and villagers near the Porgera gold mine, including burning of homes, following the death of one policeman. Such attacks are frequently used by the police as a form of collective punishment. In July police in Western Highlands Province allegedly fired into a crowd while trying to restore calm during a land dispute, killing a schoolboy. Credible reports of police brutality were widespread and were frequently related to alcohol. In October, in Port Moresby, police allegedly beat a government minister during an arrest for traffic violations. The courts do address cases of police abuse that are pressed through the court system, although many cases never reach the courts for lack of evidence or financial resources. In April, in Rabaul, a court sentenced two policemen to 3 months in jail for assault. A court also ordered the state to pay approximately $230,000 as compensation for damage caused in 1991 by a police raid in Sepil in the Western Highlands. Police announced they would conduct an investigation of the incident near the Porgera mine. They conducted an investigation into the alleged mistreatment of the Government minister but did not make the results public, reportedly to protect the minister. Prisons are severely overcrowded and understaffed. Jailbreaks are common. Family members are allowed to visit and supply food to supplement the prison diet, although at Goroka's Bihute prison visits and privileges were curtailed for 2 months following a breakout. Judicial redress is available to victims of official misconduct. Nevertheless, the case brought by a Member of Parliament from Bougainville seeking compensation for injuries suffered at the hands of security force members in 1989 was still pending at year's end. The Supreme Court introduced a simple form in 1989 enabling citizens to file human rights complaints with the National Court, but this innovation seems to have had only a marginal impact on the enforcement of constitutionally guaranteed human rights. The Ombudsman Commission is empowered to investigate official abuse of authority and to refer cases to public prosecutors. Because of the expense involved in proceeding through the judicial system, however, few cases result in actual charges. PNG's free press frequently publicizes allegations of human rights violations by the uniformed forces. At year's end, the Government had not established the human rights commission it had announced at the June World Conference on Human Rights. d. Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile The courts strongly enforce constitutional protections against arbitrary arrest and detention. Those protections have, however, been weakened by the passage of the Internal Security Act and amendments to existing anticrime legislation. Judicially issued warrants are no longer required when the authorities suspect that a person has committed any offense against that act or in the case of certain, largely white-collar offenses. The act further permits a person to be classified as a member of a proscribed organization solely on the basis of an affidavit filed by the police commissioner, without further proof. Those under arrest have the right to legal counsel; accused persons are informed of charges; and their arrest is subject to judicial review. Under legislation passed in 1993, only National or Supreme Court judges may grant bail in certain criminal cases involving a firearm. In all other cases, bail may be granted unless a judge rules otherwise. Exile is not practiced. e. Denial of Fair Public Trial The law guarantees a public trial, and the Constitution provides for due process; an independent court system enforces both. Defendants have the right to an attorney. Legal counsel is provided either by the public solicitor's office, or by the law society on recommendation of the solicitor's office, for those accused of serious offenses and unable to afford counsel. "Serious offenses" are generally defined as felony charges or any case heard in either the national or district court (as opposed to village or magistrate courts). Defendants and their attorneys may confront witnesses, present evidence, plead their cases, and appeal convictions. Given the relative shortage of police and judicial resources and an exceptionally high crime rate, periods between arrest and trial can be long. Such periods of detention, however, are subject to strict judicial review. The courts are completely independent of executive, political, or military authorities, and the Government does not hold any prisoners on purely political grounds. A lack of access to Bougainville Island proper continues to hamper the judiciary's ability to investigate human rights violations there. Nevertheless, in September a former BRA rebel was charged with the 1990 kidnaping of five government officials and businessmen. BRA activity continues in some government-controlled areas, discouraging the restoration of judicial services in all areas except Buka. Because of the passage of time and lack of reliable evidence, it is not clear if and when the National Court in Rabaul will be able to adjudicate the 66 claims of human rights abuses filed by Bougainvilleans against the Government that have been pending since 1991. f. Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence Privacy rights are not widely abused, but police are known to burn homes in the highlands to quell intertribal conflict and punish communities suspected of harboring criminals. There have also been reports of forcible entry into homes by police searching for criminals or stolen goods. g. Use of Excessive Force and Violations of Humanitarian Law in Internal Conflicts Armed conflict on Bougainville Island decreased in the last half of the year. Nevertheless, both sides claim the other committed abuses against civilians. In January the PNGDF reported killing nine BRA rebels at sea as they returned to Bougainville from the Solomon Islands. The BRA claimed the victims were unarmed civilians. The Government also reported that in the last half of the year in central and southern Bougainville, increasing numbers of civilians left BRA- controlled areas seeking food, shelter, and health care. There were widespread reports of BRA attacks against civilians, both to hamper economic activity and to intimidate them to remain in BRA-controlled areas. The BRA allegedly has burned homes and villages throughout Bougainville in retaliation for cooperation with security forces and to deny opponents their use. In August a Bougainville citizen who had lived for 4 years under BRA control claimed that the BRA had beaten him on four separate occasions, ostensibly because they suspected him of being an informer. He also charged that the BRA had murdered his three brothers. In September the Government authorized the PNG Red Cross to reestablish a humanitarian assistance office in Wakunai on Bougainville Island after resisting earlier requests. Section 2 Respect for Civil Liberties, Including: a. Freedom of Speech and Press The Constitution provides for freedom of speech, including freedom of the broadcast media and publications. A tradition of independence in the news media, an effective judiciary, and a functioning democratic system of government have helped promote these freedoms in society. The Government has been actively debating an enhanced role for the Department of Communications in regulating the media. The Government also holds a majority share of the second daily newspaper, which started publishing in November. This increased government interest in the media, which are traditionally independent and privately owned, has provoked some concern, but there have been no overt efforts to censor the press. There have been subtle efforts on the part of government officials to pressure the host of a popular radio talk show, but these threats dissipated in the face of strong public support for the radio host. There were credible reports that the Government also used subtle pressure to keep reports of the proceedings looking into the legality of the Prime Minister's September resignation and reelection off the front page, although the reporting was not censored. The restrictions on access of journalists to Bougainville remain another controversial issue, but more reporters have been able to cover the court proceedings than in the past, and the Government does not attempt to censor their coverage. The nation's only television station has been engaged in a running battle with the censorship board over alleged pornography in some of its programs. While this dispute has provoked general debate over media freedoms, it is not political in nature but rather concerns the right of the censors to define and ban what they consider to be pornography. Two Australian television news show programs were banned in 1993, one on the singer Madonna and one on child abuse by Australian priests. Citizens and foreigners are also occasionally convicted of possession of pornography under the Censorship Act. Freedom of expression, both in public and in academia, is not restricted. The courts and the Ombudsman Commission have supported the right of free speech over government prerogative in most of the cases that they have been asked to address. b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association Private associations and public assemblies are legal. Associations do not require formal registration. International affiliation of church and civic groups is also freely permitted. Public demonstrations require police approval; this is frequently denied on the grounds that such activities encourage bystanders to engage in vandalism and violence. Police in the National Capital District did, however, grant permission in September for a protest march on Parliament organized by university students following parliamentary maneuvering in which the Prime Minister engineered his own reelection. They successfully discouraged another protest rally several days later organized by unknown persons. c. Freedom of Religion There are no restrictions on and no discrimination against the practice of religion, which is protected by the Constitution. Many indigenous and Christian denominations flourish side by side with small Buddhist and Muslim groups. Expatriate missionaries have traditionally moved freely throughout the country and provided most social services in many remote areas. d. Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation PNG security forces continue to require travelers to Buka and Bougainville Islands to obtain permits. Even when their visits have been authorized by the Prime Minister, visitors have been turned back by the security forces. The Government prohibits unauthorized vessels or aircraft from calling at or landing on either island. Otherwise, freedom of movement within and outside the country has not been restricted in practice. However, the Internal Security Act, which came into force in midyear, authorizes the Government to exclude from any part of the country anyone convicted under the act or likely to commit an offense under the act. In addition, the Government has announced its intention to introduce legislation establishing a national system of registration and identification cards. Provincial politicians continue to encourage squatters from other parts of the country to return to their home regions. The Government hosts between 9,000 and 10,000 Melanesian refugees from Irian Jaya, the neighboring province of Indonesia. Approximately 6,000, many of whom have land or kinship ties with Papua New Guineans, live along the border just inside Papua New Guinea. They are not provided services by either the Government or by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). While Papua New Guinea recognizes Irian Jaya as an integral part of Indonesia, the Government nonetheless grants asylum to qualified refugees, and regulations allow foreign citizens who meet the 10-year residency requirements to take up PNG citizenship. The Government administers UNHCR assistance to about 3,700 refugees at the sole remaining camp at East Awin. There were no known forced repatriations of Irian Jayan insurgents to Indonesia during 1993. Over 200 were voluntarily repatriated. Section 3 Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens to Change Their Government Citizens freely exercise the right to change their government through direct elections with a secret ballot and universal adult suffrage. The voters elect a unicameral Parliament made up of 109 members from all 19 provinces and the Port Moresby National Capital District. Any citizen can stand for election, and several foreign-born citizens sit in Parliament. With a multiplicity of small parties, coalition governments tend to be weak and shifting; none has yet survived its 5-year electoral mandate, although in September Prime Minister Wingti took steps to ensure that his coalition remained in office for the entire period, provoking a constitutional crisis. In Henganofi, new elections for Parliament ordered by the court following disputed 1992 by-elections were contested by 10 candidates and conducted peacefully. Postelection violence caused by disgruntled supporters of losing candidates continues to occur, however. In July, in Simbu Province, such disturbances reportedly caused at least 19 deaths following provincial elections. Although there are no legal barriers to their participation in political life, women are not found in significant numbers in senior positions in government or in politics (see Section 5). No women sit in Parliament or in the Cabinet. Section 4 Governmental Attitude Regarding International and Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights There are no official barriers to the formation of human rights groups. The PNG Association for Human Rights, formed in 1992, has been relatively inactive. A second nongovernmental organization focused on human rights and the environment, the Individual and Community Rights Advocacy Forum (ICRAF), was established early in the year. Numerous localized nongovernmental organizations--some dealing only tangentially with human rights issues, others focusing almost exclusively on women and children--exist throughout the country. Nongovernmental organizations have exercised their right to comment on human rights issues in PNG media without any known government interference or retribution. The U.N. Human Rights Commission adopted a resolution in March urging the Government to permit international factfinding missions and calling on the Government to negotiate with all factions of the Bougainville peoples. While the Government has invited potential donors, including the European Community and participants in the Lome convention, to visit Bougainville, it has not extended invitations to human rights nongovernmental organizations that have expressed interest in conducting investigations into alleged human rights abuses. Section 5 Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, Disability, Language, or Social Status Extreme ethnic and geographic diversity prevents domination by any one tribe or clan. The democratically elected government, based on loose coalitions, cannot afford to favor one group over another consistently. Women Despite extensive rights for women provided by the Constitution and law, traditional patterns of discrimination against women result in a significant denial of human rights. Some women in the modern sector have achieved senior positions, serving as doctors, lawyers, business executives, civil servants, and in high government positions. Despite constitutional and legal guarantees regarding family law, marriage, and property rights, most women, even those in urban areas, still live in a system that relegates them to second-class status. Village courts tend to enforce traditional attitudes and values that oppress both women and youth. Violence against women, including domestic violence and gang rape, is prevalent. Some tribal and clan cultures emphasize antagonism between the sexes. While women are ostensibly protected by their family and clan, they are nonetheless often victims of violence and force. Traditional village deterrents, such as requirements for compensation, are breaking down. Attacks on women remain common in intertribal warfare as well. Fear of rape, especially gang rape, is justifiably common among women and constrains not only their movements and social activities but also their ability to exercise authority and discipline in business and professional activities. Rape is punishable by prison sentences, but assailants are seldom apprehended. Most areas without access to law enforcement services rely on "payback," a traditional form of revenge, directed at the offender's tribe or clan, to deter or punish rape. Domestic violence such as wife-beating, also common, is usually viewed by police and citizen alike as a private, family matter. Such violence is often related to alcohol. Village court justices tend to be overly severe on women, for instance, by imposing jail terms on women found guilty of adultery, while letting men off lightly. There is no pattern of similar discrimination against women by circuit-riding National Court justices. Indeed, the latter frequently annul village court sentences and free unjustly imprisoned women. Both the Government and public organizations are working to upgrade the status of women, so far with limited results. The Government provides a grant to the National Council of Women and has instituted an Office of Women's Affairs in the Department of Home Affairs and Youth. Children Approximately 44 percent of PNG's population is under the age of 16. In PNG's traditional clan system, children are generally cared for within the extended family, in accordance with financial resources and the tribe's access to services. Because of the geographic isolation and remoteness of many villages, an estimated 38 percent of children under 5 are malnourished. Though infant mortality rates for children under 5 have declined, they remain extremely high at 114 per 1,000 live births. Maternal mortality is the fourth highest in the world, at 900 per 100,000 births. Pneumonia and other acute respiratory infections, together with childbirth, diarrhea, and malaria, are the main causes of serious illness and death. Although statistics are not available, child abuse does occur but does not appear to be as prevalent as wife-beating. Education, a government priority, takes approximately 15 percent of the Government's budget. While the percentage of eligible students enrolled in primary schools has increased substantially, only 38 percent complete primary studies. Only 15 percent of secondary age children are enrolled in school, due in part to high costs and limited availability. Vocational schools are limited and underfunded. In 1991 the Government adopted the National Youth Service Act, aimed at increasing youth involvement in agriculture, tourism, and civic action, but it has not been implemented. Most programs to protect and develop youth are operated by nongovernmental organizations and religious organizations. Many government programs are severely underfunded. Within its limited resources, the Government is committed to the welfare and protection of the rights of children. People with Disabilities Through the National Board for the Disabled, the Government provides limited funding for the disabled to approximately 14 nongovernmental organizations which provide services. The Government does not provide programs or services directly. Services and health care for the disabled, except for that provided by the traditional family and clan system, do not exist in several of the country's provinces. No legislation mandates accessibility for the disabled. Section 6 Worker Rights a. The Right of Association The right to form and join labor unions is protected by law, subject to registration by the Department of Labor. While the Government does not use registration as a form of control over unions, an unregistered union has no legal standing with the Department of Labor or before the courts and, accordingly, cannot operate effectively. Unionized workers account for one-half of the 250,000 wage earners in the formal economy and are organized into some 50 trade unions, most of which are associated with the Trade Unions Congress. Unions are independent of the Government and of political parties. They may freely affiliate with international organizations. Both public and private-sector unions exercised their right to strike in 1993. Concerned over perceived politicization of the appointments of departmental heads, approximately 100 attorneys and staff in the Office of the Attorney-General, with support from the Public Employees Association, struck to revoke a controversial appointment as Secretary of Justice. After a week, the strike was abandoned in favor of a legal challenge, which was ultimately accepted by the courts. Mining workers have been responsible for the most visible union activity in the private sector. Laborers at the Ok Tedi Mine struck three times in 1993--first over wages, then management activities, and finally work-related conditions. b. The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively The Constitution provides for the right to engage in collective bargaining, to join industrial organizations, and to seek employment. These rights are exercised freely. In past years, the International Labor Organization (ILO) has admonished the Government to amend the law that gives it discretionary power to cancel arbitration awards or declare wage agreements void when they are contrary to government policy. This has not been accomplished because of a lack of resources. The ILO has now offered its technical assistance. The law prohibits antiunion discrimination by employers against union members and organizers. The Department of Labor and Employment, as well as the courts, resolve complaints. There are no export processing zones. c. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor The Constitution forbids slavery and all forms of forced or compulsory labor, and there were no reports of their practice in 1993. d. Minimum age for employment of children The minimum working age, as established in Chapter 373 of the Employment Act, is 18. However, children between the ages of 11 and 18 may be employed in family related work provided they have parental permission, a medical clearance, and a work permit from a labor office. Such employment is rare, except in subsistence agriculture. The Department of Labor and Employment and the courts take steps to enforce the minimum age law, but they are hampered by a lack of resources. e. Acceptable Conditions of Work Minimum wages for the private sector are set by the Minimum Wage Board, a quasi-governmental body with worker and employer representation. The most recent determination, which became effective in October 1992, dramatically reduced the minimum wage to $22.50 (kina 22.96) per week. Approximately 10 percent of private-sector wage earners are subject to the minimum wage, and the determination represents a setback, particularly for new and unskilled workers. The minimum wage would not support a decent standard of living for a worker and family who exist solely on the cash economy. There is no means to judge statistically the effect of the new minimum wage, though employment in the formal sector continued to decline slightly. The Department of Labor has received no formal complaints that higher wage workers have been fired in order that a lower cost replacement might be hired, although union leaders claim that this has occurred. Minimum wage levels, allowances, rest periods, holidays, leave, and overtime are regulated by law. The workweek is limited by law to 42 hours (44 in rural areas). Enforcement of the Industrial Health and Safety Law and related regulations is the responsibility of the Department of Labor. The law requires that inspections take place on a regular basis, but, due to a shortage of inspectors, they occur only when requested by workers or unions. In 1992 businesses have been closed on several different occasions due to violation of safety laws. Health and safety regulations are still under revision.
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