The State Department web site below is a permanent electronic archive of information released prior to January 20, 2001.  Please see www.state.gov for material released since President George W. Bush took office on that date.  This site is not updated so external links may no longer function.  Contact us with any questions about finding information.

NOTE: External links to other Internet sites should not be construed as an endorsement of the views contained therein.

Department Seal

flag
bar

TITLE:  PAPUA NEW GUINEA HUMAN RIGHTS PRACTICES, 1994
AUTHOR:  U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DATE:  FEBRUARY 1995









                        PAPUA NEW GUINEA


Papua New Guinea (PNG) comprises some 1,000 tribes and over 800 
distinct languages in a population of about 4 million.  It has 
a federal parliamentary system based on universal adult 
suffrage in periodic free and fair elections.

The Government has constitutional authority over the armed 
forces (PNGDF), police, and intelligence organizations.  
However, government failure to control and discipline the PNGDF 
has led to human rights abuses involving civilian communities 
on the island of Bougainville.  A similar failing has resulted 
in abuses by the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary (RPNGC), 
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.

Resolving the secessionist movement, now over 5 years old, on 
the island of Bougainville continued to be a major priority of 
the Government.  In October the Government of Prime Minister 
Chan sponsored an internationally monitored peace conference 
that was boycotted by senior Bougainville Revolutionary Army 
(BRA) leaders.  Extrajudicial killings by security forces and 
BRA insurgents on Bougainville were major human rights abuses.  
Other continuing problems were the physical abuse, sometimes 
resulting in death, of detainees and prisoners by security 
forces, and the Government's failure to bring the perpetrators 
to justice; extensive discrimination and violence against 
women; and a tradition of ethnically motivated violence.

RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS

Section 1  Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including 
           Freedom from:

     a.  Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing

There continued to be credible reports from Bougainville that 
the PNGDF and progovernment resistance fighters executed 
alleged BRA members or their supporters.  In May the Catholic 
Bishops' Conference asserted that earlier in the year, persons 
who were either soldiers or resistance fighters brutally beat 
and executed Thomas Patoe at the Sovele Catholic mission 
compound.  Patoe was the younger brother of a BRA commander in 
the Nagovis area who had begun to work with resistance 
fighters.  A BRA spokesman claimed that security forces 
tortured and executed Clement Duini of Amoing village in 
central Bougainville and two others from southwest Bougainville 
in July at government-run care centers.  In February the BRA 
accused the PNGDF of killing a civilian by pushing him out of a 
flying helicopter.

A circuit-riding National Court judge and the magistrate system 
have been reestablished in Buka.  The Government nonetheless 
continued, as in previous years, to fail to investigate 
security force atrocities in the Bougainville conflict or to 
bring perpetrators to justice, thus perpetuating the climate of 
impunity that encourages the continuation of such abuses.  In 
April the court did, however, sentence a former BRA commander 
to 17 years in prison for willful murder and arson during a 
November 1990 BRA attack in Buka.  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 12 deaths of 
PNGDF personnel and the deaths of at least 3 policemen in 
1994.  There are also credible reports that the BRA killed 
civilians.  Between January and March, the BRA is alleged to 
have engaged in at least 11 separate attacks resulting in at 
least 40 deaths.  Prior to and during the 7-day October peace 
talks, both sides violated the cease-fire in several reported 
ambushes, resulting in at least seven deaths.

Outside of Bougainville, in February a court in Mount Hagen 
sentenced a policeman to 5 years' hard labor for manslaughter.  
According to the court, the policeman was angered by the just 
released detainee's verbal abuse and retaliated by killing him 
with a spear.  In July in Port Moresby a youth died in police 
custody during or immediately after questioning.  The incident 
was investigated by police, but at year's end no charges had 
been filed.

     b.  Disappearance

Although both the security forces and the BRA continued to 
allege that the other was responsible for civilian kidnapings 
or disappearances, no official charges were made publicly.

     c.  Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading 
         Treatment or Punishment

The Constitution forbids torture and other cruel or degrading 
treatment or punishment.  Nonetheless, PNG security forces (PNG 
soldiers, police, and correctional personnel), as well as BRA 
insurgents on Bougainville, continue to engage in such 
practices.

Credible reports indicate that the PNGDF mutilated or 
dismembered bodies of BRA killed in combat and left them as a 
warning to others.  Other credible reports indicate that 
resistance forces supporting the PNGDF have done the same to 
wounded BRA.  Security forces are reported to have burned homes 
in villages near Panguna during their August operation to 
retake the mine.  A coroner's inquest into the role of PNGDF 
soldiers in the 1993 burning down of a Port Moresby club and 
the death of a soldier had reported no findings by the end of 
1994.

The BRA is believed responsible for a May attack in Mabes 
village that injured former Bougainville Member of Parliament 
(M.P.) Sir Paul Lapun and his family.

Credible reports of torture, excessive force, and abuse by PNG 
police in all regions reflected continued government failure to 
discipline the RPNGC.  Almost all of the more than 28 cases 
reportedly filed in 1994 with the national court, under special 
procedures designed to protect human rights, alleged abuse by 
correctional or police officers.  Allegations ranged from rape 
while in detention to severe beatings that caused loss of sight 
or limb.  In early 1994, villagers from several small 
communities near Fane, Central province, reported that police 
had entered their homes in late December 1993, beating the 
villagers and stealing and destroying property.  The police 
apparently were searching for suspected criminals.  Such 
attacks on villages are frequently a form of collective 
punishment.

Although the courts address cases of police abuse that are 
pressed through the court system, many cases never reach the 
courts because of the lack of evidence, reliance on incomplete 
police investigations, or the failure of overburdened and 
underfunded prosecutors to follow through.  Frequently 
witnesses can not be located or funds found to transport them 
long distances to court.  In the first of five similar rulings 
in 1994, the national court in August ordered the State to pay 
more than $1 million to five clans in Chimbu province for 
damages inflicted by police in separate incidents in 1986 and 
1990.  According to the reports, which the Government never 
denied, police burned homes, destroyed crops, killed livestock, 
and assaulted villagers while searching for suspected 
criminals.  In May a policeman in Lae was sentenced to 9 years' 
hard labor for the September 1993 rape of a woman in police 
custody.  In Port Moresby, a senior police official is facing 
charges for raping a woman under detention.  In October a 
National Court judge ordered the State and a police officer to 
pay damages to a prisoner for abuse suffered during detention.

Prisons are severely overcrowded and understaffed, and prison 
escapes are common.  Due to government-wide financial 
difficulties, water and food were in short supply during the 
last half of the year.

The authorities released some prisoners to relieve pressures on 
the prison system.  Family members are allowed to visit and 
supply food to supplement the prison diet, although prison 
visits and privileges are frequently curtailed following 
disturbances or breakouts.

Redress through the courts is sometimes available to victims of 
official misconduct.  Following several years of litigation, 
the case brought by an M.P. from Bougainville seeking 
compensation for injuries suffered at the hands of security 
force members in 1989 was settled out of court.  The Supreme 
Court introduced a simple form in 1989 enabling citizens to 
file human rights complaints directly with the national court, 
without need for counsel.  If the judge determines that the 
case has merit, he may direct an investigation.  The 
compensation claim of five Chimbu clans cited previously in 
this section was initiated though this simplified process.  It 
was, however, pursued by a private lawyer.

     d.  Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile

The courts enforce constitutional protections against arbitrary 
arrest and detention.  For example, using special procedures 
developed for human rights cases (see section 1.c.), in October 
the National Court fined the State for holding a civilian for 4 
days without charge.  The constitutional protections, however, 
have been weakened by the Internal Security Act and 1993 
amendments to existing anticrime legislation which provide that 
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.  The Government has not yet sought a 
conviction under the Internal Security Act.  Under amendments 
to the Bail Act and the Criminal Code 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.  Those under 
arrest have the right to legal counsel, to be informed of 
charges, and to have their arrest subject to judicial review.

In April a man from Central province claimed that he had been 
held by the BRA for 6 years and released only following 
extensive negotiations with his family.  He claimed that he and 
five others had been taken prisoner while trying to leave Kieta 
in 1988.  He had no information on the whereabouts of the 
others.

Given the relative shortage of police and judicial resources 
and an exceptionally high crime rate, periods between arrest 
and trial can be long, particularly in the rural areas where 6 
months can pass between arrest and committal.  Such periods of 
detention, however, are subject to strict judicial review, 
through continuing pretrial consultations, especially at the 
National Court level.  Nevertheless, cases are frequently 
delayed for months awaiting the results of police 
investigations.

Exile is not practiced.

     e.  Denial of Fair Public Trial

The Constitution provides for due process, including a public 
trial, and an indpendent court system enforces this.

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 Public 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 cases, and appeal convictions.

The courts are completely independent of executive, political, 
or military authorities, and the Government does not hold any 
prisoners on purely political grounds.

Although the national court has resumed operation in Buka, 
North Solomons province, the lack of free and safe access to 
Bougainville island proper continues to hamper investigations 
of alleged human rights violations there.

     f.  Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or 
         Correspondence

While the authorities generally respect privacy rights, police 
in the highlands and the PNGDF in Bougainville have burned 
homes to quell intertribal conflict and punish communities 
suspected of harboring suspected criminals.  Also, police often 
force entry into homes during searches for criminals or stolen 
goods.

     g.  Use of Excessive Force and Violations of Humanitarian 
         Law in Internal Conflicts

Armed conflict decreased significantly following the 
institution of a cease-fire September 9.  There were two 
significant outbreaks of violence in the period preceding the 
cease-fire:  the first, February-March, was attributed to the 
BRA and the second, August, was related to the PNGDF's action 
to retake Panguna copper mine.

Each side claims the other committed abuses against civilians.  
In March the BRA accused the PNGDF of using civilians as human 
shields, citing specifically a March 23 clash at Tabago and 
Maisuru in south Bougainville.  The PNGDF countered that the 
BRA was responsible for killing 17 civilians during an attack 
on a relief convoy.  Throughout the year, but particularly 
immediately following the cease-fire, the Government reported 
an increased number of civilians leaving BRA-controlled areas 
in search of food, shelter, and health care.  Before the 
September cease-fire, there were continuing reports of BRA 
attacks against civilians, both to hamper economic activity and 
to intimidate them into remaining in BRA-controlled areas.  The 
BRA allegedly burned homes and villages throughout Bougainville 
in retaliation for villagers' cooperation with security forces 
and to deny opponents use of the villages.  BRA attacks on 
security forces continued despite the cease-fire, with a 
soldier and a civilian killed in mid-November.  At least one 
member of a BRA party attempting to attend the early October 
Bougainville peace conference reportedly was wounded when the 
party was fired on by the PNGDF.

Section 2  Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

     a.  Freedom of Speech and Press

The Constitution provides for free speech, including freedom of 
the media, and this freedom is generally respected in 
practice.

The media provided independent coverage and analysis of major 
controversies in 1994--including the ongoing insurrection on 
Bougainville, the legal problems of senior government 
ministers, and the question of the legality of the snap 
election called by the former prime minister.

One blatant attempt at censorship occurred nn April 6, when the 
Minister for Communication ordered the national radio 
broadcasting system, NBC, to stop broadcasting news from a 
summit meeting of the New Guinea islands' premiers on the 
grounds that the premiers might discuss secession.  NBC, which 
receives its funding from the Government but maintains a 
generally independent line in its news stories and editorials, 
defied the ban and continued to broadcast, drawing from press 
accounts supplied by others present at the summit.  Following 
widespread domestic and international criticism, the Minister 
rescinded his order, claiming that his concern for the personal 
security of NBC reporters, rather than the political content of 
their coverage, had inspired his censorship attempt.

The two daily newspapers and one weekly newspaper compete 
aggressively.  One of the two dailies is owned by a Malaysian 
firm, which has invested heavily in PNG's timber industry, and 
by senior members of the former government, but the newspaper 
has nonetheless been generally independent and unbiased in its 
first year of existence.

The Government and the PNG defense force continued to control 
the media's access to Bougainville, restricting access of 
journalists to the island and to participants in the conflict, 
although a greater number were allowed to visit and interview 
combatants on both sides of the insurrection this year than in 
the past.  There is no attempt to censor press reports filed 
from Bougainville.

The courts occasionally try citizens and foreigners under the 
provisions of the Censorship Act which ban the import, 
broadcast or publication of materials deemed pornographic 
according to Papua New Guinea's rather strict, church-based 
standards.  The usual sentence for violations of the Censorship 
Act is confiscation and destruction of the restricted goods, 
although the courts can legally impose a fine of $17.00 (20 
Kina) or more or a prison sentence of up to 2 years.  The 
Ombudsman Commission and the courts in Papua New Guinea have 
supported the right of free speech over government prerogative 
in most of the cases they have been asked to address.

     b.  Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association

Private associations and public assemblies are legal.  The 
Government does not require registration of associations.  
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.  In April in Buka, the Government told organizers of 
a demonstration planned to protest a change in administrative 
personnel and responsibilities that the demonstration would be 
illegal.  The demonstration did not take place.  In December 
human rights and women's activists were given permission to 
march in protest of human rights abuses in general and the 
increasing incidence of criminal and family violence.

     c.  Freedom of Religion

The Constitution contains provisions for freedom of religion, 
and the Government respects these fully.

     d.  Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign 
         Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation

Following the October cease-fire, PNG security forces no longer 
required travelers to Buka to obtain permits.  Government 
approval is still required for travel to Bougainville for those 
not from the island.  By the end of the year, a border post had 
reopened permitting crossings between PNG and neighboring 
Solomon Islands.  Otherwise, freedom of movement within and 
outside the country has not been restricted in practice.  The 
Government has not applied sections of the Internal Security 
Act left standing by the Supreme Court which authorize the 
Government to exclude from any part of the country anyone 
convicted under the Act or likely to commit an offense under 
the Act.  The Government has dropped plans it announced in 1993 
to introduce legislation establishing a national system of 
registration and identification cards.

The Government hosts around 9,000 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.  Neither the Government nor the United 
Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) provides 
services to them.  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 
become PNG citizens.  The Government administers UNHCR 
assistance to about 3,600 refugees at the sole remaining camp 
at East Awin.

There were no known forced repatriations of Irian Jayan 
insurgents to Indonesia during 1994.  More than 120 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.  Former Prime Minister Paias Wingti provoked a 
constitutional crisis in September 1993 when he attempted, 
through an unexpected resignation and immediate reelection, to 
ensure that his coalition remained in office .  In August the 
Supreme Court ruled that Wingti's reelection was invalid.  He 
did not stand for office when Parliament on August 30 elected 
Deputy Prime Minister Sir Julius Chan Prime Minister.

By-elections for Parliament ordered by the National Court in 3 
provinces, following disputed 1992 elections, were contested by 
26 candidates in October and conducted peacefully but were 
marred in one district by preelection violence in June.  
Postelection violence caused by disgruntled supporters of 
losing candidates continued to occur, however, particularly in 
provincial and local 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).  
There are no women in the Cabinet or in Parliament.

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.  The Individual and Community 
Rights Advocacy Forum (ICRAF), a nongovernmental organization 
(NGO) formed in 1993, became increasingly active; it focused on 
human rights and the environment.  NGO's have exercised their 
right to comment on human rights issues in the media without 
any known government interference or retribution.  The 
Government organized a U.N.-sponsored seminar in October to 
review its options for establishing a national human rights 
commission.

The U.N. Human Rights Commission adopted a resolution in March 
urging the Government to seek a peaceful solution to the crisis 
in Bougainville, and it authorized the Secretary General to 
consider appointing a Special Representative after September 30 
if the situation warranted.  The Government facilitated a visit 
by a senior U.N. official in August, and in September the 
Secretary General advised that he would not appoint a special 
representative.  The Government permitted an increased number 
of visits to Bougainville by reporters, including an Australian 
television crew in February, and sponsored visits by an 
Australian parliamentary delegation in April, Tonga's Crown 
Prince in June, and a representative of the U.N. Secretary 
General for the October peace conference.  However, it has not 
extended invitations to nongovernmental human rights 
organizations that have expressed interest in investigating 
alleged human rights abuses there.

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, has taken care not to favor one 
group over another consistently.

     Women

The Constitution and laws have provisions for extensive rights 
for women including family law, marriage, and property rights.  
Some women in the modern sector have achieved senior positions 
in the professions, business, and civil service.  Nonetheless, 
traditional patterns of discrimination against women result in 
a significant denial of human rights.  Despite constitutional 
and legal provisions, 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.

For example, village court justices tend to be overly severe on 
women by imposing jail terms on women found guilty of adultery, 
while penalizing men lightly or not at all.  Circuit-riding 
national court justices, however, frequently annul village 
court sentences and free unjustly imprisoned women.  
Nevertheless, when sentence is imposed, there is a tendency to 
impose longer sentences on women than men, particularly in 
cases involving loss of life.  Where polygynous marriages are 
still customary, particularly in the highlands, there has been 
an increase in the number of women charged with the murder of 
another of their husband's wives, reportedly due to the 
breakdown in custom and tradition.

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 families and clans, 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.  The number 
of reported cases of rape is rising steadily.  Though rape is 
punishable by prison sentences, and sentences are handed out 
when assailants are found guilty, few assailants are 
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 is also common 
but is usually viewed by police and citizenry alike as a 
private, family matter.  One study sponsored by the police 
department itself found that wife abuse is prevalent in police 
families.

Both the Government and public organizations are working to 
upgrade the status of women but so far with limited results.  
In June Parliament ratified the Convention on the Elimination 
of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).  According to the U.N. 
Development Program, the literacy rate of PNG's adult female 
population has actually declined by 5 percent over the past 14 
years.  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

The Government's ability to protect the rights and welfare of 
children is limited by financial constraints.  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, 
malnourishment and infant and maternal mortality rates are very 
high.  Although statistics are not available, welfare officers 
believe that child abuse is increasing as village life and the 
extended family give way to urban development.  Most programs 
to protect and develop youth are operated by NGO's, including 
the recently formed child protection services, and religious 
organizations.  Many government programs are severely 
underfunded.

     People with Disabilities

Through the National Board for the Disabled, the Government 
provides limited funding for the disabled to approximately 14 
NGO's 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 
about 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 legal 
right to strike in 1994.

     b.  The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively

The Constitution provides for the right to engage in collective 
bargaining and to join industrial organizations.  These rights 
are exercised freely.  In 1994 the International Labor 
Organization (ILO) again 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.  The Government has stated the amendment 
has not been made due to a lack of resources.  The law 
prohibits antiunion discrimination by employers against union 
members and organizers.  The Department of Labor and 
Employment, as well as the courts, is involved in dispute 
settlement.  Wages over and above the minimum wage are set 
through negotiations between employers and employees or their 
respective industrial organizations.

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 such practices.

     d.  Minimum Age for Employment of Children

The minimum working age, as established in the Employment Act, 
is 18 years.  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 so hampered by a lack of resources that 
enforcement is not effective.

     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, reduced the minimum wage for newly 
hired urban workers by about 75 percent to $19.50 (Kina 22.96) 
per week.  The new minimum wage would not support a decent 
standard of living for a worker and family who exist solely on 
the cash economy.  A 12 percent devaluation of the Kina in 
September, and the further depreciation of the Kina following 
the decision to allow the currency to float in October, has 
reduced the real wage received by workers.  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).  The law provides for at least one 
rest period of at least 24 consecutive hours in every week.

Enforcement of the Industrial Health and Safety Law and related 
regulations is the responsibility of the Department of Labor 
and Employment.  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.

(###)

[end of document]

flag
bar

Department Seal

Return to 1995 Human Rights Practices report home page.
Return to DOSFAN home page.
This is an official U.S. Government source for information on the WWW. Inclusion of non-U.S. Government links does not imply endorsement of contents.