Social Concerns Notes – August 2015

Effect of El Niño (as of 24 August)

National PNG. National Weather Service says drought could last to March, April, or May 2016. National Disaster Centre says has no funds for frost or drought, but K5m will be released to provinces.

National Capital District. Residents told to conserve water, Sirinumu Dam water levels expected to drop (hydro, water source). Chimbu residents in Port Moresby form funds appeal committee.

Gulf Province. Purari River level really low near Baimuru. Bushfires and drought-affected gardens reported mountain areas in north.

Western Province. Middle Fly District, Balimo, Aramia – “Lagoons surrounding Balimo all have gone dry. Land surfacing where once was full of water. All inhabitants are struggling with water.

Kiunga – Fly River levels dropping, water and food shortage; Fuel going low; cars queuing to refill, fuel rationing starts already limiting bus runs on highway.

Tabubil. Most of OTML workforce “repatriated”, business houses told to lay off staff and close up many operations to reduce pressure on fuel and food stocks; town largely evacuated late Aug.

West Sepik and East Sepik Telefomin, Eliptaman dry. Tifalmin – Bush fires: “And now all valley around Tifalmin areas are covered with white smoke Frieda River almost dry, river bed visible, canoe travel difficult. Heat and dry spell killing taro, people living off cassava while it lasts.

Sepik River– water level dropping.  Ambunti wharf at the moment shows 2-3 meter drop.

Southern Highlands and Hela Provinces SH Province declared state of emergency late Aug; severe frosts; many people moving to kin at lower altitudes. Mendi, Komo-Magarima, Ialibu all experience serious frost damage; schools closed.

Enga Province Severe frosts in Enga, even in lower areas that were previously not affected by frosts.

Kandep, upper lagaip, sirunki. Heavy frost and prolonged drought.

Classes jeopardized for 100,000 high school/secondary students due to water and food shortages. …

Kandep – seriously hit by frosts; bushfires destroyed several homes in district. Kandep District

Western Highlands Waghi River level dropping, people can walk across

Tambul – MORE than 50,000 people in three local level governments of Tambul district are affected by drought and frost. People are starting to move out from the affected areas.

Jiwaka dry.

Simbu Province Water shortage Dry season for 4 months. “Everything turning brown”.

Eastern Highlands Goroka – “water shortages, people living in villages & the outskirts of town get water from streams & they are drying up! Food gardens drying up. “Market is becoming expensive.”

Morobe Province Yonki Dam- water levels dropping at dam. Bulolo, government workers working half a day. Wau, Residents feeding off ground water in water holes running out of water. Dysentery near Gulf/Morobe boundary attributed to eating rotten tubers from affected gardens.

Central Province Kosipe – People in Kosipe in Goilala district are leaving their villages, in search of food and help in Sopu, Chirime, Tanipai and Woitape, after all their food crops and gardens were destroyed by severe drought and frost. The situation is quite different from the 2007

Oro Province Tufi, Orobay, Ijivitari water shortage.  Tufi fresh water systems really low.

Milne Bay Province “…starting to experience dry spell, not too bad yet.”

Manus Lorengau – “the dust is killing us.”

Madang Province All Madang districts affected, but main problems concern Manam Islanders.

East New Britain Rabaul-Kokopo – surrounding villages affected, short of drinking water – fear people may be using contaminated sources in Warongoi River. Dry spell in fourth month.Pomio has rain!

West New Britain Kimbe – Very dry periods for 3 months, shortage of fresh water, river levels dropping, very dry strong winds and fires affecting oil palm areas, very cold nights experienced here too.

New Ireland Namatanai, Barok dry winds. Lihir – water tanks low

Bougainville Buka – water shortage. Dry season

Bougainville island – strong dry winds, illness

Solomon Islands Officials in Solomon Islands are calling for water rationing as drought conditions prevail there, especially in the northern provinces. The premier of Western Province, George Solingi Lilo, said if the conditions continue for more than a month, “all services in Gizo will have to come to a halt.”

AP tracks slave boats to Papua New Guinea

Jul. 27, 2015. http://bigstory.ap.org/article/c2fe8406ff7145a8b484deae3f748aa5/ap-tracks-missing-slave-fishing-boats-papua-new-guinea

Trawlers fled a slave island in Indonesia with captives of a brutal Southeast Asian trafficking ring whose catch reaches the United States. Hundreds of men were freed after they were discovered there earlier this year, but 34 boats loaded with workers left for new fishing grounds before help arrived — they remain missing.

As the appetite for cheap fish worldwide grows, so does the demand for men who are paid little or nothing to catch it. Thailand’s $7 billion annual seafood export industry is built on the backs of poor people from its own country and migrants from Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos who are sold, kidnapped and tricked onto trawlers.

[For full article see the url above]

Human Trafficking, A Major Problem

Post Courier, 30th July, 2015

Papua New Guinea is a source and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to sex trafficking and forced labour, according to a US Government Report. Foreign and local women and children are subjected to sex trafficking, domestic servitude, forced begging, and street vending, and foreign and local men are subjected to forced labour in logging and mining camps. An estimated 19 per cent of the country’s labour market is comprised of child workers—some of whom are subjected to forced labour or child prostitution, according to a Trafficking in Persons report released by the US Government. The report further says, non-government organisation (NGO) sources indicate children in prostitution increased by 30 per cent in 2013. Although PNG does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking, it is making significant efforts to do so. The report stated that PNG Government has made efforts to combat trafficking when it announced the criminal code amendment of 2013, which contains anti-trafficking provisions; it established a new anti-trafficking training program for front-line officers and judiciaries; it created an anti-trafficking committee and drafted a national action plan to combat trafficking.

PNG Behind In Meeting MDGs

Post–Courier, 28th July, 2015

Mothers, newborn babies and children below the age of five are considered to be the high risk population and are likely to die from preventable diseases like tuberculosis, pneumonia and diarrhoea if not immunised. This lack of immunisation means that Papua New Guinea lags far behind in improving its millennium development goals at improving infant and maternal mortality rates. Deputy Health Secretary Dr Paison Dakulala said children’s health and immunisation were still very big worries in the country and was not helping to achieve the MDG goals. “Goals four and five of the MDG which aims to reduce child mortality and improve maternal health for mothers are far from target. “The health indicators for child and maternal mortality are far below average,” he said, adding that if a baby and mother miss out on immunisation injections, they are vulnerable to preventable diseases. A nursing officer at a city clinic said that according to the Health Department, only about 60 per cent of the country is covered by immunisation programs.

Health workers shortage still a problem

Post Courier, July 28, 2015

THE shortage of health workers in the country will remain a problem for a long time, says a senior officer from the Health Department Dr Goa Tau.

Wewak Hospital board chairman Allan Bird raised serious concerns about the critical shortage of manpower facing his hospital, saying he hopes no outbreak hits Wewak as the hospital does not have the manpower to respond to big numbers of patients.

He said a nasty vehicle accident in Wewak last year had left many people dead, but those that survived and required care resulted in the hospital staff doing double shifts because there was not enough staff.

Mr Bird stated that hospitals were not just about buildings but whether they have the health workers to attend to patients. In answering his question, Dr Goa Tau had said the Government had increased the salaries of doctors in PNG through implementing of their awards which has resulted in the reduction of doctors going overseas. Later on, when the Post-Courier asked him whether the Health Department could consider the proposal on the Cuban doctors as one way to address the critical shortage of health workers, he said: “This is a political issue’’, and it was a question that should be put before the Minister for Health Michael Malabag.

Four saved from being burnt alive

Post Courier, July 28, 2015

FOUR people, including two pregnant women, were saved from being burnt to death after being accused of practising sorcery on Lihir Island in New Ireland Province. The four were tortured last Wednesday and almost burnt alive after being accused of practising sorcery in a settlement on the outskirts of the mining township. Fortunately, they were saved by a police rapid response team. The victims were taken to the hospital for treatment and moved to the police cells for their safety while police continued investigations.

Reports from Lihir are sketchy but, according to one eyewitness, the victims are receiving counselling.

“The police rapid response saved them from being burnt,” an eyewitness, who did not want to be named, said.

 

540 leprosy cases registered

The National, Wednesday July 29th, 2015

THE National Department of Health has confirmed 540 leprosy cases registered by clinics and health centres around the country in 2015.  Despite leprosy no longer a priority public health problem, it still exists in many communities. Miriam Pahun, a technical adviser in the leprosy programme, said that there was a misconception that leprosy had been eradicated.

“Eradication simply means in medical terms that there are no more reported cases of infection reaching the health authorities,” she said. “Unfortunately, it is not quite true in PNG. Leprosy has only being reduced and from our recent statistics many people are affected by this silent disease,” Pahun said. Unlike other diseases, the leprosy germ takes weeks to multiply and usually affects people with a very low immune system, she said. “It will take usually 14 days for the leprosy germ to multiply and three to five years for small circular white patches to appear on the skin. “The patches will look like white spots and is an indication that the leprosy germs are slowly affecting the nerve system, resulting in loss of sensation that lead to disability and clawed hands,” Pahun said.

Sir Paul slams SI Cabinet

http://www.solomonstarnews.com/news/national/8125-sir-paul-slams-cabinet

The Cabinet has been accused of acting illegally when it decided to channel disaster relief funds through members of parliament instead of channeling them through the National Disaster Management Office (NDMO). Former MP and Speaker of parliament Sir Paul Tovua was critical against government action in disbursing disaster relief funds to members of parliament. He pointed out that NDMO is the legitimate body established by an Act of Parliament to manage and administer disaster relief funds, not MPs. He was referring to the payment of $3.3 million made to 33 MPs whose constituencies suffered the brunt of Cyclone Raquel last month. Each of the 33 members was paid $100,000 to discharge to those affected his/her constituency.

Sir Paul said sarcastically speaking our current members of parliament are more like ATMs machines since they handle large amount of public funds. “The problem with this is, it creates a dependency mindset amongst our people. When they need money, they run straight to the MP. In essence people become dependent on the MP for almost everything” he said. Sir Paul said the saddest aspect of the situation is these constituency funds only goes to supporters or voters of the MPs. He said voters who supported a different candidate who lost in the elections would certainly expect nothing from the MP.

He said often these large number of voters who voted differently are left high and dry for the next four years.

Four million ha of forest remaining

Post Courier, July 29,2015, 06:00 pm

Papua New Guinea rainforest is depleting very fast, according to Forest Minister Douglas Tomuriesa.

He said PNG has the third largest rainforest in the world with an estimated 15 million hectares of forest but the saddest thing is that there is only 4 million hectares remaining. Minister Tomuriesa while debating on the climate change (Management) Bill passed by Parliament yesterday said that PNG has 15 million hectares of rainforest for logging. However about 11 million hectares of the forest has being logged and only four million hectares are remaining and needs to be managed.

“Therefore we must save our forest for the future generation and preserve them to help address issues of green houses and also prepare to mitigate issues of climate change in the world.

Violence against women, a global pandemic’

Solomon Star 29th July

No country in the world has got it right when it comes to gender equality or completely erasing violence against women says Australia Chancellor Roclle White. Speaking yesterday as a key note speaker during the launching of the new toolkit on how to design projects to end violence against women and girls, she said, violence against women and girls is a global pandemic. “Prevalence surveys in the Pacific have shown that the incidence of violence against women is among the worst in the world,” she said. She said, as many as two in three women have experienced physical and or sexual violence by their intimate partner or a family member. She said, even Australia have terrible statistics when it comes to violence against women where she revealed that a third of Australian women over the age of 15 have experienced some form of physical assault where one in five Australian women has experienced sexual assault.

Thanks that change is occurring, including here in the Solomon Islands where she said, governments are advancing legislation, policies and national action plans to end violence against women.

While this is seen as a progress, she stressed out that Pacific Island governments and civil society organizations still find it difficult to access enough funding and resources and need more support and capacity to design and implement projects end violence against women.

More than AUD$7M has been channelled to the fund by Australia to provide grants and capacity-building support programs to end violence against women and girls in Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Vanuatu, Nauru and Kiribati.

 

O’Neill eyes law on total gun ban

The National, Monday August 3rd, 2015

PRIME Minister Peter O’Neill wants a total ban of guns in the country. He is talking to Police Commissioner Gari Baki and relevant authorities about tabling a proposed legislation in Parliament on the ban. “We’ve talked with the Police Commissioner and his management team that we should now get all the firearms back into the armoury,” he said. “My thinking is that we should ban firearms completely in the country. We don’t need to carry firearms anywhere for that matter.”

O’Neill said a good example was portrayed during the Pacific Games when no firearms were carried around by security officers. “We must learn from the experience of the Pacific Games. There were close to almost a thousand men and women there. “We made a decision that they will not possess firearms.”

St John to close facility

The National, Monday August 3rd, 2015

The St John Council of PNG has decided to close its Blind Service facility in Port Moresby because of lack of funding from the Government. Director Blind Service Ruth Sangkol said any grant from the Government was meant for health-related work, including administration. “This is effectively implying that blindness is not a health problem and therefore should go,” she said. “This is absurd. How is blindness not a health problem? “We are a recognised inclusive special education centre providing services to the people who are blind or with visual impairment. “Our key services include rehabilitation, education and primary eye and ear care.” It is understood that the council plans to turn the place into a TB and dental clinic as well as  install a dialysis machine for kidney patients.

Drop in baby vaccines

Post Courier, August 04, 2015

IMMUNISATION of children less than one year of age in Papua New Guinea has drastically dropped since 2009 to 42 per cent, way below world standards recommended by the World Health Organisation. The figures were released by Health Secretary Pascoe Kase through a circular dated May 1, 2015, to all provinces and health managers at national level to help arrest the falling figures and announce the introduction of two new vaccines to the country. The two new vaccines are Measles-Rubella and Inactivated Polio. But the worrying figure is PNG‘s immunisation of children under one. The world standards recommended by WHO is at 80 per cent and above, and in 2009, PNG only immunised 55 per cent of its children under one. And five years after that, the figure plummeted with PNG only immunising 42 per cent of its children, 38 per cent worse off from the world standards.

The figures are not getting any better despite the National Department of Health (NDoH) developing a special expanded program on immunisation (EPI) in the National Health Plan 2011-2020, and WHO and the NDoH are trying their very best to elevate the plummeting figures.

The frightening statistics in Lae’s urban health centres of one nurse to 200, 000 patients is a contributing factor of health workers unable to go out on immunisation patrols and delivering quality health care. Poor logistical and financial support from the national, provincial and district headquarters were also blamed for poor immunisation results.

Manam islanders need assistance

Post Courier, August 04, 2015

THE Manam volcano in Madang remains on Stage-two alert following last week’s eruption.

“Things have quietened a bit but there is still some ash emission,” he said.

In stating this he had advised that some awareness should be done by the provincial disaster officials on the ground in Madang to prepare the people on the island, should the situation worsen. Meanwhile, provincial authorities had confirmed that food and water are issues needing urgent attention from the Government. Madang Provincial Disaster and Emergency director Rudolf Mongalee said funding continued to be an issue for the office, adding that he was looking for funds to purchase rations, water containers and tarpaulins to deliver to more than 4000 islanders who are back on the island.

PM O’Neill says enough of Aid industry

Post Courier, August 03, 2015

The Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, Peter O’Neill has called for a rethink in the way development support is delivered in the Asia-Pacific. PM O’Neill said there has to be a better deal for the taxpayers of contributing countries like Australia, while recipient countries want to ensure support develops real capacity and skills, and is only ever seen as temporary. The Prime Minister said one of the biggest obstacles to effective development support were middlemen who take commissions on aid expenditure. “Development assistance has become a billion dollar ‘industry’ where so much of the goodwill ends up in the pockets of middlemen and expensive consultants,” Peter O’Neill said. “As a developing country we don’t want handouts, we don’t want Australian taxpayer money wasted and we don’t want boomerang aid. “There is a better way to work with our partners and we will develop better arrangements. “Papua New Guinea is changing, we are growing and as a nation of 8 million people we want to move beyond hand-outs and work with our partners to strengthen capacity.” The Prime Minster said in Papua New Guinea there will be a review support arrangements that will save money for contributing countries and deliver capacity and skills in recipient countries. “In 2016 Papua New Guinea will move to a model where our partners will be welcome to fund positions within our Government. “These staff can then work and report through the Papua New Guinea Government system and we will deliver their salaries through arrangements with the donor countries.

Why the short bus routes in Honiara

04 August 2015 http://www.solomonstarnews.com/news/national/7644-why-the-short-bus-routes

THE short bus route in Honiara was triggered by daily targets imposed by Asian bus owners on their drivers and conductors. That was according to a bus driver Timothy Aloga. He disclosed this to the Solomon Star during Monday’s five hour protest by bus drivers and conductors in Honiara against the increasing entry of Asians into the local bus industry. “When you work for a Chinese bus owner; you have no option but to come up with techniques to counter the pressure of hitting daily targets,” Mr Aloga said. “As a result bus drivers turn to operate along short routes to hit their daily targets knowing that if they don’t hit their daily targets, they will be either verbally abused or sacked as the result,” he added. According to the bus drivers who staged the protest, there were about five Chinese bus owners currently running buses in Honiara and they owned more than 100 buses.

Illegal miners invade Porgera

The National, Wednesday August 5th, 2015

MORE than 1000 illegal miners are invading the Porgera gold mine in Enga every day for gold, police say. Highlands division police commander Teddy Tei told The National yesterday that security officers, including police and soldiers were outnumbered by the illegal miners every day and could not control them. He said the illegal miners went directly to the mine pit to look for gold. “The illegal miners wait near the mine and when they hear the blast, they all run like hell in there and get whatever gold they can find,” he said. He said from the report he received recently, one man earned K270,000 from the gold he found at the mine site. “The illegal miners know that the police and soldiers will not shoot to kill them and they have no fear in them,” he said.

Collecting bottles to make ends meet

Post Courier, August 04,2015, 02:00 pm

Collecting empty cans, bottles and plastic bottles to re-sell is increasingly becoming a small revenue maker for ordinary Papua New Guineans. In Mt Hagen, Western Highlands Province, the third city in PNG ‘bottle collecting’ is a rife little business for the grassroots. People of all ages from school aged children to old people collect empty cans and bottles to gain the extra kina for their daily surivival.

Most collect to re-sell while some collect to 500ml bottles to re-fill with water and re-sell after cleaning the bottles. This re-filled water bottles are sold for 50t. It raises fears of health concerns due to fact that many bottles are not cleaned properly. Bottle collecting happens everywhere in the country and Mt Hagen is just one of those provinces.

Phone texting affects spelling

Post Courier, August 10,2015, 01:42 am

CHILDREN were told to read more and spend less time on mobile phones because texting is affecting comprehension and spelling in English for many of them. The message was given at the closing of the 2015 National Book Week in Port Moresby on Friday, hosted by Hagara Primary School.

School board treasurer Mr A Jaima said a lot of people who went to school in the 1960s and 70s went onto become leaders in the country because of the type of education they had. He said it was not the same today and urged the students to read more in order to become successful in future.

“It saddens me to see that many children today do not read books. They carry around mobile phones. As a result, in future they will not know English. How do you expect our country to be prosperous in the future?’’ Mr Jaima said.

He said these days when most children go home, they do not carry books or sit down to read or do their homework, but they are seen playing with phones and talking about other things rather than about school.

“I hear kids speaking a lot in Pidgin but not in English.’’

He said mobile phones should be used by children for only communication purposes so that they have time for reading and other things that will enable them to do well in future.

“If you spend so much time on books, you will become powerful. If you spend less time, you will be powerless,’’ he said.

Govt and church relations important

Post Courier, August 12,2015, 01:09 am

EFFECTIVE partnership between churches and the Government is important to effectively address the increased law and order problems affecting young people in recent times. Concerned leaders of the PNG Church Partnership Program Church Leaders Council stressed this during its first meeting for the financial year 14 to 15 recently in Port Moresby. The leaders called on the Government to partner with the churches to address social problems which, they claimed, were escalating at a very fast rate.

“We have noted that there is an increased in law and order problems related to sorcery killings, drug and alcohol, cult practices in schools and school violence in tertiary, secondary and primary institutions. “We acknowledge that many of those involved in these issues are members of our congregations,” they said in a statement. With the vision to enhance the capacity of the PNG Churches to contribute to PNG development and social stability, they said they are in a good place to be part of the solution to the issues. According to the leaders, a number of factors contributing to these social concerns extending to poverty, lack of employment opportunities, increased urban migration have been recognised.

Women’s group to clean airport

The National, Wednesday August 12th, 2015

A GROUP of women in Western Highlands will clean and maintain the Kagamuga airport as part of a three-year plan to help themselves. They formed the Kagamuga Inter-Denomination Mothers Association Incorporated to help in their development. The three-year plan includes increasing its membership, promote God’s Word in the communities, organise church activities, promote working and farming attitude. They plan to invite non-government organisations and donor agencies to educate mothers in sewing, cooking, running businesses and family planning because most of them were unskilled and illiterate. Hagen rural local level government councillor Luke Mathew gave K1000 for them to open a bank account. “I believe what you are doing will bring changes to the people of Yamka-Pepka tribe and help maintain the standard of the Kagamuga airport,” he said.

Huge cutbacks threaten to decimate PNG’s universities

16 August 2015 http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2015/08/huge-cutbacks-threaten-to-shut-down-pngs-universities.html#more

THE vice-chancellor of the PNG University of Technology, Prof Albert Schram, has told Radio New Zealand International that the PNG Treasury has announced that all universities will have their funds cut by 40% for the rest of 2015. The disclosure follows recent independent analysis of the nation’s budget which, despite denials from prime minister Peter O’Neill, shows significant revenue problems. Paradoxically, Mr O’Neill indicated last week that a slump in the economy would somehow be good for PNG. He agreed with ANZ Bank chief Mike Smith that the resources boom allowed PNG to paper over weaknesses in the system and so the downturn now is “not such a bad thing.”

Too many people had become complacent about forecasts that the country would grow by up to 20% this year, Mr O’Neill said. But he also gave assurances that the government “won’t be resorting to indiscriminate budget cutting” which followed an earlier government commitment that educational institutions would not be impacted by budget cuts. But it seems these assurances were paper thin, and that money is rapidly running out for the delivery of government services across the board.

Prof Schram warned that courses or teachers at Unitech might need to be cut if the funding cutbacks are not reversed. “All the university bursars this year were called to Treasury on 10 June and cuts of 40% for the rest of the year were announced,” Prof Schram told Don Wiseman of RNZI.

PNG Treasury had also applied monthly transfers of funds rather than providing them for a longer period which made it “very difficult to run the university.”

Most people live in settlements

The National, Monday August 17th, 2015

ABOUT 60 per cent of residents in Port Moresby and 50 per cent in Lae live in squatter settlements, an official says. Office of Urbanisation director Max Kep said the lack of decent and proper housing for people in towns and cities was a major problem. He said the 60 per cent of residents in Port Moresby and 50 per cent of those in Lae in squatter settlements deserved decent homes.

“These percentages could increase if the Government does not intervene (now),” Kep said.

“We need to stop and review how things are going at this point.”

300,000 lives at stake

The National, Monday August 17th, 2015

Chief Secretary Sir Manasupe Zurenuoc says up to 300,000 people in the Highlands will be affected by the prolonged drought. He said that when confirming that Kandep, in Enga, had been hard hit by frost last week, adding that six of the seven Highlands provinces had been hit hard by the drought.

Eastern Highlands has not been affected. An emergency meeting will be held today to discuss ways of dealing with this crisis. He said reports had only come in about Mt Wilhem in Chimbu, being hard hit by drought while other provinces were yet to give in their reports. “Up to 300,000 people (in the Highlands) may be affected and we will confirm this as the figures start coming in,” Sir Manasupe said.

Drug abuse a major problem in PNG

The National, Monday August 17th, 2015

DRUG abuse is a major problem among youths in the country, according to the narcotics bureau acting coordinator Lawrence Tau. “Drugs, especially marijuana and hombrew, have destroyed our youths,” Tau said. “Youths are throwing their lives to drugs and are doing a lot of things that are uncalled for in their communities. “Drug-related crimes are on the rise and need Government attention and rapid intervention.” He said the Government had tried to curb the problem but it still continued.

“If we fail to address the problem now then, we are facing a bigger problem in future,” Tau said.

“We cannot have a population where all young people are taking home-brew and marijuana. We want quality future leaders with sound minds.” He said education and special skills training for unemployed youths was a good option.

Frost disaster

Post Courier, August 18, 2015

MORE than 300,000 people in Enga have been hit by what is described as “the worst frost disaster” in the province in more than 40 years. Enga Administrator Samson Amean who called an emergency meeting yesterday with the provincial disaster and emergency committee said entire food gardens have been destroyed, especially in Kandep district.

“The entire Kandep district is flattened. This is a worst ever frost disaster that Enga has faced in recent years. Surely, it is worse than the 1972 disaster,” he said. Mr Amean said the province was also feeling the effects of the prolonged drought and the frost simultaneously. “We will face the worst of the worst in terms of shortage of water and garden food if the current drought and the frost continue for the next two weeks,” he said.

Governor admits no funds for Manam relief

Post Courier, August 19, 2015

GOVERNOR Jim Kas has admitted the Madang provincial government does not have money to buy relief supplies for the people of Manam. The second batch of supplies are due to be delivered this week however, concerns had been raised by the islanders that the supply would only last a few meals.

For the people on this disaster stricken area this does not spell good news especially with all their water sources either contaminated or dried up and their food gardens now destroyed and families without any means of an income to buy from markets let alone shops. The question that is now hanging is if the second batch is the last? And what will become of them especially the young children whose meal and water intake have been drastically reduced to just one per day.

“Is this (relief supply) just a one off thing or will there be more especially now that our food gardens and water sources are destroyed by the effects of both the El Nino and eruption,” was the common statement echoed by those interviewed.

Women tortured for alleged witchcraft

The National, Thursday August 20th, 2015

TWO women were tortured with hot iron bars after being accused of practising witchcraft, which allegedly led to a man’s death. Acting provincial police commander Senior Inspector Mas Tuman said the incident happened last Monday at Kawe village in the Imbonggu district of Southern Highlands.

Tuman said five women and a man were accused of practising witchcraft, which led to the death of Jack Wambia, a community health worker in the village. He said the villagers after conducting their own investigation blamed the death on the two women. They set them alight and tortured them with hot iron bars. He said the two women were later taken to the Mendi General Hospital. He said one was discharged later while the other was admitted. Tuman said last Monday, the man died after his pig attacked him. Tuman said the whole community was involved and it was hard to identify the suspects.

He urged the people to respect others living in their community and not to attack them for no good reason. He said sorcery-related incidents must be stopped and people should not take the law into their own hands. He said they would ensure that all those who broke the law were hauled before the court.

US Government condemns public sorcery ‘trial’

http://www.looppng.com/content/us-condemns-public-sorcery-‘trial’-shp

The United States Government has spoken out in protest at an alleged sorcery torture public show in the Southern Highlands in the past week. Four people were put through a public session of beatings and torture as they were alleged to have caused the deaths of other people through sorcery.

The US Embassy in Port Moresby last night issued a denunciation of the event. The statement “deplores the brutal violence inflicted on three women and one man over the last week in Mendi. The public humiliation, beating, and burning of these individuals with hot rods following accusations of sorcery in the villages of Kave and Kumin in the Southern Highlands Province is reprehensible’’.

The statement issued by the embassy said: “We call on the provincial police authorities to investigate and prosecute those responsible for these senseless acts and for the appropriate resources and attention to be dedicated to addressing these crimes. “Too often this sort of violence goes unreported and occurs without the perpetrators being held accountable. Adequate and timely response by the police and judicial system is needed to deter future crimes and hold perpetrators responsible for their actions.

“The United States calls for the strengthening of Papua New Guinea’s criminal justice system to allow for enhanced prevention and response efforts and proper enforcement of existing criminal laws. Furthermore, we ask the Papua New Guinean government, public, and civil society to say no to violence in their communities and put an end to the stigmas that lead to it. “Our thoughts are with the victims’ families and children during this difficult time.’’

One of the World’s Worst Places for Women Gets Its First Domestic Abuse Hotline

http://www.takepart.com/article/2015/08/20/papua-new-guinea-domestic-abuse

Counselors in Papua New Guinea will be available for 12 hours a day, seven days a week.

Until just two years ago, domestic violence wasn’t even considered a criminal offense in the island nation. Although physical mistreatment abuse is punishable by fines and jail time, a slow shift in societal norms has left women and children vulnerable. Hoping to offer support and options to families in danger, a free domestic violence hotline launched on Wednesday. The toll-free line offers trauma counseling along with referrals for local support, including safe houses, law enforcement, and legal assistance.

Along with supporting the victims, Papua New Guinean counselors will also offer their services to those perpetrating the abuse in order to address the root cause of the country’s culture of violence.

“There are many good people who, for whatever reason, commit bad acts,” said Aydelfe Salvadora, the program’s manager. “We understand that speaking to someone on either side of the issue may help improve the situation.”

No to death penalty

Post Courier August 24, 2015

THE Catholic Archdiocese of Port Moresby has intensified lobby among its followers for a petition opposing the death penalty. It plans to hand the petition to Parliament when it sits in October.

The Catholic Church opposes the death penalty which is in review by the Government following international condemnation of Indonesia’s execution of the two ring leaders of the Bali Nine drug syndicate early this year. Twelve people are on death row in Papua New Guinea, although the instruments for the executions have not been signed. Port Moresby Archbishop John Ribat said that the Catholic Church would continue to voice concern and opposition to death penalty in PNG. He said the law on death penalty was against the sanctity of life and PNG being pre-dominantly a Christian nation could not have laws that did not respect human life.

“The Government has no right to take away life. Only God gives life and can take life,’’ he said.

The St Joseph Parish at Boroko organised a seminar last Saturday to garner support against the death penalty. It was attended by academics, lawyers, members of the clergy and university students, among others.

They said that no one had the right to take someone else’s life, especially the Government which was considering it in light of increase in serious crime. They said that life sentence was sufficient for serious crimes. Catholic Professionals Society president Paul Harricknen said in his presentation that the church recognised the right of the State to legislate and make laws under the Constitution it would be difficult for the State to justify that death penalty is the only alternative or the last resort to deter crime. “The church teaching does not advocate death penalty,’’ he said. “Death penalty is not new to PNG. There are already many extra-judicial killings by State’s law enforcement personnel and unlawful killings by people, including sorcery-related killings. Death penalty and the execution of death sentences will not make much difference,’’ he said.

Mr Harricknen said under the Criminal Code (Amendment) Act 2013 there were four ways of executing death penalty – hanging by the neck, electrocution, lethal injection, and deprivation of oxygen. “All of these methods were potentially cruel, inhumane and inconsistent with respect for the inherent dignity of the human person under section 36 of the Constitution,’’ he said.

Govt urged to defer 40th celebrations

Post Courier, August 21, 2015

THE K25 million allocated for the Independence Day celebrations should be used to assist people affected by frost which has been triggered by the El Nino, says Opposition Leader Don Polye.

He is concerned that people are starving due to food shortage. “The Government should delay the 40th Independence Day celebrations to a later date,” he said in a statement. Mr Polye took the Government to task for being insensitive to the needs of the victims affected by disaster on hand, triggered by the El Nino conditions. He questioned why K25 million was allocated for the anniversary celebrations while frost-affected victims will have nothing to celebrate.

SOE declared. Severe drought and frost affects SHP

Post Courier, August 19, 2015

GOVERNOR William Powi has declared a state of emergency in Southern Highlands Province as severe frost and drought destroyed food gardens and water sources. Mr Powi and his provincial executive council have met in Mendi this week and assessed the situation as “very critical” – one which needs urgent National Government attention. This Highlands Province is in urgent need of food supplies, water, clean toilets and basic health services since it was hit by frost and drought four weeks ago. More than 500,000 people are affected, including school-aged children. Hospitals, homes, families and businesses have little or no water for drinking, cooking, toilets, showers and washing.

Letter from Catholic Bishops on Drought and Frost

 

We Are Resourceful People

Much of Papua New Guinea and parts of Solomon Islands are experiencing a time of drought and in some places frost. Water is short and for many people food sources are becoming depleted. This is a time to draw upon our traditional Melanesian values of sharing and hospitality, and particularly on the Christian virtues of charity, honesty and justice. This is not a time for some to benefit from other’s misfortune, but rather an opportunity to demonstrate our resourcefulness and concern for one another.

Water flowing in rivers has it’s source in rain coming from the heavens. It does not belong to anyone. So it is wrong if some people with access to rivers charge money for those people without river access to get water. River water is for the common good.

Likewise, now is not a time for some who are relatively unaffected by drought and frost to inflate prices for garden food or seedlings and to make a large profit from those who are less fortunate. Nor is it right to take advantage of people who have to leave their homes to take refuge elsewhere. Any form of profiteering from this tragedy is unjust and unacceptable.

Now as we begin celebrations for PNG’s forty years of Independence, this is surely a time to show our resourcefulness and concern for one another. Like the people of Israel wandering 40 years in the desert, we place our trust in God who will always care for his people, and in Jesus who showed us that he can transform what little we have into great abundance as long as we are willing to share. We do not have to be beggars. There is enough in this great land for all to share. Before thinking about storegoods from overseas, we should think of our own reserves and first see how much unaffected areas can help with garden produce. We can use disaster funds to first purchase kaukau and greens etc. from our neighbours and transport them to the affected areas, rather than waiting for rice and noodles.

We also need to warn people of the danger of fire, not to light fires unnecessarily, and to be particularly careful that fires do not get out of hand and threaten people or their homes, and also the forests. Forest creatures and the forests themselves are also suffering at this time.

Let us pray to God the Lord of all creation that this time of frost and drought will end soon and that with God’s help we will emerge from this trial stronger and more resourceful people, proving once again our great capacity to share with those less fortunate than ourselves.

Bishop Arnold Orowae,

President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference PNG/SI

19 August 2015

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Social Concerns Notes – July 2015

Bishop: Sports builds bonds and unity

Post Courier, July 01,2015, 02:49 am

WITH the Pacific Games a few days ahead, the Catholic bishops offer a reflection on the value of sports and ways Papua New Guinea can benefit from it. Catholic Bishops Conference PNG and the Solomon Islands president Bishop Arnold Orowae said the church recognises sports as one of the great institutions of our society. It helps individuals realise their human potential and builds up the bonds of the community, fostering communal initiative and responsibility. Bishop Orowae said sports contributes to physical and mental health and wellbeing of the players. “It teaches people, particularly young people, skills and resilience. When youth become involved in sport, they devote their energies to teaming together in a healthy environment, forgetting about antisocial activities such as violence and crime,” he said. “Sports bring people together in new ways. Parents and teachers volunteer their time to organise events. Women may be spectators in many public events, but with sports in the village, in games such as volleyball and basketball, they play equally along with males.

[See the full statement as the last item in these Social Concerns Notes]

Pacific games: A time to reflect on our attitudes for the better

Post Courier, July 22, 2015,

The Catholic Professionals Society of PNG said the 2015 Pacific Games have brought about attitude change among the people across the nation. The organization further stated that the Games should be used to reflect on the people’s attitude for a better society in the future.

President Paul Harricknen said …the government, the security personnel, organizing committee, the people and the thousands of volunteers are to be congratulated for the successful and peaceful events ever staged. He said one of the notable observations from the events is the positive attitude of the people. He said the event brought PNG together as a nation and just about every person wanted to show case the quality and character of the people and country. “We have proven that our people are capable of rising to bigger and higher occasions. On this note I wish to add my congratulations to our people with confidence, prayer, and hope that this Pacific games which preceded our 40 years independence celebrations on 16 September 2015 can be the platform and the start of change in the mindset, hearts and attitudes of our people where we can assert our place and sovereignty as people and nation.

‘It also means that we must be weary of attitudes and ideologies which can undermine our beliefs and values which have been built over centuries and decades of our existence. We must be prepared to say no to ways and ideas that go against our beliefs, our history, our identity and character as a people. We must not repeat the mistake of altering our National Anthem for example. We must not replace our history and legacy in meddling with the names of our founding Fathers such as happened to the name of Sir John Guise Stadium during the games for reasons of mere money and fame”, he said.”

“Our nation is built on the foundations set by our forefathers, and foremothers who drew from the riches and blessings of our Melanesian cultures and traditions and the Christian beliefs we have adopted. They are our identity. Let us embrace them with joy and hope for a better people and nation as we celebrate our 40 years of nationhood within the global society, Harricknen said.

The Real Cost …

(Lawrence Stephens – Facebook)

We are assured that the new Pacific Games facilities, built at the cost of life saving medical equipment and much more, will be well maintained. Seeking approval to bury a 15 year old girl whose life would probably have been longer if we invested more readily and honestly in life sustaining facilities, I was put through the incredible paper chase, starting at around 9am, with the luxury of my own vehicle. From Waigani, where we learnt that the sign identifying the Coroner’s Office was out of date, to the new office in Boroko and a delay of only an hour and half until the coroner’s burial permission was printed out, back to Waigani (imagining the stress to families on foot and public transport following the same confused process) to the cash office of the city authority who directed us to the Burial’s Office, down the road, to have an invoice issued, then back to the Cash Office to pay for a spot in the graveyard, finally reaching this door towards the end of the day. (Photo shown of a rather dirty entrance) …It is the official office of several city authorities including that of the “Burials Clerk” and health officials. If the city authorities can’t keep the office clean what hope do we have of them keeping the new sporting facilities maintained? If indeed we can hope that they have the funds and commitment to maintain them, what will it cost? And will this also be a cost, which may in fact not actually translate to real work, met by diverting funds away from the public health budget and other urgent social needs around the country?

Grace Waide‪ (facebook) A friend of mine lost her life while waiting at the A& E for well over 3 days without being seen to.. so it makes me very very angry that we are patting our own backsides about the games when many are dying for lack of the most basic health and paitent care in the main Port Moresby Hospital..if this is the situation at Pom Gen, what hope is there for all others in other centres?

Govt to pay millions of kina to PNG winning athletes

Post Courier, July 7, 2015

The PNG government is about to fork out some more millions of kina as incentives to PNG athletes who win Gold, silver and bronze medals in this year’s XV Pacific Games. Minister for Sport and Pacific Games Justin Tkatchenko said the incentives was only for the athletes and not the respective coaches, manager or trainers including team officials  for that matter.

The minister said this after inviting PNG open women’s touch football team after their tremendous golden victory over Samoa to take a photo with the Prime Minister’s wife, Lady Linda Babao at the Bisini sporting oval. I think these incentives will help the players to work ahead and this has been approved by the NEW, “the minister said. Recently the Prime Minister Peter O’Neill said teams or a player that wins a medal during the Pacific Games will be rewarded. He said for every gold, an individual athlete will get K20, 000 while the silver gets K10, 000 and bronze K5000 respectively

He added that many tend to forget that unlike many other countries, our local athletes usually go about unsponsored and in need of funding. “The least we can do for their personal efforts and sacrifice in putting us on the map and giving the country prestige is to at least give them something in return.”

Incentives for athletes but what about the injustices of our country

http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2015/07/incentives-for-athletes-but-what-about-the-injustices-of-our-country.html

PRIME Minister Peter O’Neill has announced that athletes who did not win any medals during the 2015 Pacific Games will each receive K2,500 as an incentive for their efforts. Well, I congratulate Mr O’Neill for the initiative and the plan to develop sports in Papua New Guinea. Through sport the government will be able to combat increasing crime. But, before the honourable prime minister does this, could his government locate sporting facilities in every district of PNG down to village level so we can develop the best and most talented sport men and women to national and even international level? Millions of kina were spent on the 2015 Pacific Games. While watching the Games live on EMTV, I was proud of my country men and women competing against the neighbouring Pacific nations. But, while the Games were going on, at our hospital mothers was suffering in labour. One from remote Finschhafen district of Morobe Province; another from the remote Ambunti district of East Sepik. Could the same effort involved in developing the Pacific Games be put into our remote area health services where people desperately need them? The prime minister said some people were “too blind to see the sacrifices” of the athletes even though their eyes were open. What about sacrifices and hardships faced in remote areas in regard to basic government services: health, education, road infrastructure and the rest? Is he too blind to see these sacrifices. Is this not an injustice?

Individuals inclined to remain silent on corruption

Post Courier, July 02, 2015

A STUDY which involved more than 1800 interviews in nine of 21 provinces also showed that growing distrust in anti-corruption bodies meant individuals were inclined to remain silent in the face of corruption. According to Australia’s Pacific Beat, researcher Grant Walton, from the Australian National University, said the PNG Government’s recent attempts to wind down anti-corruption bodies in the country appear to have had wider ramifications. “The more educated people are the more likely and willing they are to report corruption. “What we’re finding is that formal education and awareness raising efforts about corruption are really important, but what’s also important is the role of the state in addressing corruption,” Mr Walton said. Papua New Guinea has recently rolled back a number of corruption-fighting measures, including defunding Taskforce Sweep and cancelling contracts of corruption fighters. Such moves have seen public enthusiasm for reporting corruption weakens, the researchers say.

For the full report see:

http://devnet.org.nz/sites/default/files/Walton,%20Grant%20Papua%20New%20Guinean%20interpretations%20of%20corruption%20

This slideshow could not be started. Try refreshing the page or viewing it in another browser.

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SHP forests under threat of logging

Post Courier, July 01, 2015

The huge forest in East Pangia forest management area in Southern Highlands Province is under threat of being logged. This is after 86 incorporated land groups from the area, which is of dense tropical rain forest, said they have heard of logging in the area. The chairmen of the 86 ILGs during a gathering last week in their area said they have heard of logging companies having an interest in logging in their forest which they said they do not want. The spokesmen of all the chairmen Alex Kaima, Peter Arome, John Conlay, Kondowa Kelupai and Mobia Lome, from the West Kambia side of the forest said during the gathering that they have declared their forest as preservation and conservation area and the office of climate change have recognised it. “Our ILG certificates were collected by the Office of climate change for the engagement of our forest in carbon trade,” Mr Arome said. “We do not want any logging company to come and do logging in our forest and disturb the environment and ecosystems.” The 86 ILG chairmen of East Pangia forest management said they have heard of reports that a Madang based logging company is taking interest in logging and said they do not want that to happen.

Catholic church delivers rural services

Post Courier, July 01, 2015

The Catholic health services is a major partner in the delivery of health & HIV responses for the government of PNG and Australia is proud to support its work in Port Moresby and across the country. Australian Deputy High Commissioner to PNG Ms Bronte Moules said on Monday during the opening of the St Paul’s Clinic at Gerehu Stage 6 in National Capital district. Ms Moules said the church health services reach settlements and rural villages across the country through 65 sites in 20 Provinces. She said the church health services also delivers broad range of programs, including maternal and child health, communicable disease, counselling, prevention and support and community engagement. Ms Moules said the opening of the clinic demonstrates the commitment by both the Government of Australian and Government of PNG in investing in the health of the people of PNG.

“Today we are opening a clinic that will significantly improve the access to health care for the people of Gerehu. “The clinic that is being opened today is the result of an investment by the Australian and PNG Governments of nearly K1.5 million. “It is a worthwhile investment,” Ms Moules said.

Hope for young Mums

The National, 1st July, 2015

Teenage pregnancy should not be covered up anymore, a father of four daughters said. He said he knew it was a sensitive issue that needed addressing in the open to cushion its stigma. Purago Marabe, an artist from Eastern Highlands, was thankful to the Safe Motherhood Alliance or Small PNG organisation for using his artwork to portray young women in fear and anguish when undergoing unplanned pregnancy. “As a father of four girls, I am honoured to be part of this project called ‘Blooming Teens’ to paint and feel the situation young girls face and help raise awareness to prevent teenage pregnancy,” he said. Marabe said at the launching of belly casts modelled by young women in their third trimester pregnancy, which Marabe and seven other artists would paint to tell the story behind each cast. Another artist, Tony Evennette, said that his involvement in casting for teenage unplanned pregnancy was a way of saying sorry on behalf of men and to contribute to the society through the project. Organisation patron Dame Carol Kidu, who opened the project last Friday in Port Moresby, said it was interesting to see that most of the painters were men. “This in itself it’s a good turnout as male painters will have to connect with each cast and story that they paint so they feel and understand the situation of the young girl. It’s sad when young women are so desperate that when they have a pregnancy, they consider taking their own lives. I encourage families and communities to take care of girls who fall pregnant early,” she said. Programme development manager Catherine Fokes said they were casting 12 young women who each had a story of anguish to tell.

Midwifery Trainers Needed

The National, 1st July, 2015

The country needs more midwifery trainers to teach midwives how to prevent and reduce child and maternal mortality cases in the country, according to a consultant. Heather Gulliver, a clinical midwifery facilitator with the University of Technology in Sydney, has been involved in the auditing and proof-reading of the midwifery curriculum for the Bachelor of Midwifery Programme at the Divine Word University campus at St Mary’s School of Nursing in East New Britain. She had worked in Eastern Highlands, Madang and East New Britain. She said challenges in reproductive health in PNG were universal and there was a big shortfall in health workers. “Community health workers are holding up maternal health services across PNG.  Another area where there is a shortfall in PNG is educators that are in the position to offer midwifery education,” she said. Gulliver said this was an issue at the other four institutions offering bachelor programmes in midwifery, which had struggled to recruit staff. “We are here to build capacity and it is quite difficult when we do not have adequate staff,” she said. However she said the foundation of the midwifery programme at St Mary’s School of Nursing was very strong as it was the first institution to offer child maternal health in 1958. The midwifery programme was funded by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. It has been developed in conjunction with the Department of Health, World Health Organisation, University of Technology and the PNG Nursing Council.

Woman tortured

The National, July 6th, 2015

A WOMAN from Chimbu was tortured and slashed with bush knives in Madang on Saturday after her relatives suspected her of practising witchcraft. The tortured woman identified herself as Baby Nebare, 45 and from Goi village in the Nemane-Karamui area in Chimbu. Nebare said she had seven children and left them with her husband at home to go to Madang to buy betel nuts to sell in Chimbu.

A relative, Robert Bomai, said Nebare purposely went to Madang to kill him over issues related to land ownership. Two other women allegedly conspired with Nebare. Bomai said he found out about the woman’s intention through a dream he had last Wednesday. He said it was known in Chimbu that women practicing witchcraft targeted people on the 7th, 14th, 21st and 28th of each month. He claimed he was to be killed on July 14. Bomai said he questioned Nebare about her intention but Nebare denied it. He said she admitted it when other relatives at the Baglau settlement  gathered and threatened to kill her. “I am not a sanguma (witch), I falsely admitted I am one because they wanted to kill me, they will kill me if I don’t admit,” Nebare said. Bomai’s male relatives slashed Nebare with bush knives and beat her with sticks.

Liquor ban lift turns sour

Solomon Star, 30 June 2015

AS the liquor ban was lifted in Honiara on Saturday, the capital has experienced a noisy and disturbing atmosphere as drunkards patrolling the streets and communities causing public annoyances.

Reports reaching this paper said, that pubs and bottle shops in Honiara were very busy with people buying alcoholic beverages after the lift of the liquor ban. The ban was effective as of Friday 19th June as Honiara hosted the 20thMelanesian Spearhead Group leaders’ summit.

An officer from the Central Police station confirmed to the Solomon Star yesterday that the police custody is filled up with mostly drunkards compared to the past weekends. He added that, he cannot confirm the number of arrests made but it is believed most of the arrests were alcohol related. This came after the liquor ban was lifted over the weekend.

Staff of the National Referral Hospital’s Emergency ward also confirmed a number of cases where people are taken to the hospital to receive medical attention throughout Saturday night and Sunday morning. This paper understands that the liquor ban was also questioned by pub and bottle owners as well as the Solomon Islands Chamber of Commerce & Industry (SICCI) the peak representative of the private sector in Solomon Islands saying that the loss of business to small business owners is their concern. However, the lift of the ban turned sour as people ended up in police custody and also at the hospital with matters related to alcohol.

 

Winds of change: Are they blowing PNG good or bad?

http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2015/07/winds-of-change-are-they-blowing-png-good-or-bad.html

WHEN the Communist Bloc started to crumble in the latter part of the 1980s, these climactic events were said to have been triggered by a “wind of change” blowing across the USSR and Eastern Europe at that time. In the same sense Papua New Guinea’s development and economic progress in the last decade or so can be said to be the result of a similar phenomenon of rapid transformation. Favourable international economic conditions have enabled Port Moresby to transform into a thriving city, a symbol of what prime minister Peter O’Neill recently said was an endeavor to transform PNG into the “most powerful nation in the Pacific”. National Capital District Governor Powes Parkop has described these enormous developments as the result of the “wind of change” blowing through PNG.

While such statements may provide a glimpse of the future of the national capital and PNG at large, unfortunately they are far removed from the reality on the ground. The wind of change may well be blowing but for most folks in remote villages and urban settlements they mean little. Most people view the government with suspicion and distrust.

Whilst things may look positive on the outside, on the inside many people are confused and anxious about the future. For too long they have been tricked into believing in policies that brought no tangible change to their lives. Perhaps we can hope that these recent developments are signs of better things to come. Perhaps, like every law abiding and patriotic citizen, I hope that the massive infrastructure development in Port Moresby will instill a sense of responsibility and pride in the minds of our people.

In saying that, I am mindful that for most people the daily struggle poses a major barrier to change. The sight of mothers and youths selling their meagre possessions under the sparkling new flyover bridge is a daily occurrence.

Not far away from PNG’s first flyover is a small messy area recently taken over as a market. It is buzzing with betel nut vendors. This filthy place has already drawn the attention of city authorities and, as the Pacific Games kicked off, the sound of teargas canisters thundering into the locale could be heard for miles around. It was a reminder that, for most of our people, change is not so personally transformational. While the government has injected massive amount of money into building world class sporting facilities for the Pacific Games, the main source of energy, electricity, is still a big problem for most settlements and villages in PNG. This important marker of modernisation is not accessible by most Papua New Guineans. Access to it is so difficult and costly where I live that most settlers resort to illegal connections. … Transforming Port Moresby into a modern city is commendable, however its development has come at a high price for other provinces. It has also resulted in an influx of migrants from rural areas. We are experiencing rapid rural-urban migration such as we never saw before. …

[For the full article, access the url above]

Log exports reach new peak despite government promises

https://pngexposed.wordpress.com. June 29, 2015

Papua New Guinea’s raw log exports reached a new high in 2014 despite numerous government policies on sustainable development, increasing downstream processing, ending round log exports and canceling the SABL leases. Much of the increase in log exports has come from clear-fell logging in Special Agriculture and Business Lease area – something the Commission of Inquiry described as illegal and which the government promised to stop in 2013.

In 2014 log exports reached 3.8 million cubic metres, after growing steadily from 2.3 million in 2005.

In all 30% of log exports were from areas logged under Forest Clearance Authorities issued under SABL. The logging in these areas is being allowed to continue despite the clear evidence these land/resource deals were illegal, particularly as as they are not based on the approval of the customary land owners, and there was certainly no free and informed consent. Nearly all the logs, some 88% or 3.34 million cubic metres, was shipped to China for domestic use and re-export as processed timber and finished products. Taun is the timber with the largest export volume recorded (around 16% of the total) followed by kwila (8%). West New Britain is the largest source of logs exports – accounting for 23% of the total – followed by East New Britain (18%, largely from SABLs). Then West Sepik (17%).

The largest single logging project, by far, is Rimbunan Hijau’s Sigite Mukus operation, in East New Britain. This is an SABL/FCA under the company name Gilford Limited.

Australian Officer Donates K3,000 to Centre

The National, 7th July, 2015

An Australian police officer with the help of family and colleagues has donated more than K3000 to Life PNG Care (LPNGC). Detective Sergeant Michelle Harris, who is part of the Papua New Guinea-Australia Policing Partnership, went to LPNGC centre at Gerehu last Friday and made the presentation. The money came purposely to assist the centre in its fundraising drive to buy a bus for the 22 children going to school. Harris was motivated to make the donation because her grandfather Keith Wilson, who recently passed away in Australia, was an orphan. Her grandfather was pleased when he heard that she has been in contact with some disadvantaged children, who were in the care of LPNGC. Instead of taking flowers to the Wilson’s funeral, the family decided to take money so they could donate it to a nominated charity. “Now the families say ‘please don’t bring flowers and if you want to do something, you donate some money. We ask them not to bring flowers but money to give to you (children at LPNGC) so the friends and families, and some colleagues here helped me to donate the money towards the efforts in buying a bus,” a delighted Harris said.

Envoy: PNG to Miss Goals.

The National, 10th July, 2015

A diplomat has warned that Papua New Guinea will not meet any United Nations millennium development goals because living standards in rural areas have not improved. United States Ambassador Walter North said: “There is still more domestic violence and poverty in PNG.” He was addressing a women’s leadership symposium in Kokopo, East New Britain yesterday. North, therefore, urged educated PNG women to take the lead in assisting women in the rural areas. “Educated women in PNG have the tools to assist their families and communities. I believe that women in PNG have the power to make that commitment and drive the change needed. I know that women in this country will not lose hope. They will keep on learning. They can transform this country from the land of the unexpected to a better place.”

Used Clothing a Profitable Business

Post – Courier, 9th July, 2015

Used clothing is a very profitable business, that is yielding for its operators very high returns in Papua New Guinea. This is according to a market research conducted by the National Development Bank (NDB). NDB Managing Director and Chairman for NDB investments limited Moses Liu highlighted this during the opening of the Style Stret shop yesterday in Port Moresby. “We found that while most store goods are controlled items meaning the markup you can charge on them is fixed; used clothing on the other hand is very different. Bales of clothing were sold by weighting kilograms and inside each bale would be several hundred or thousands of pieces of clothing.” He said the used clothing industry is booming in PNG and many locals who started in this humble business have gone on to be very successful. Even though it is not as glamorous as other businesses it is a cash cow and has higher returns than most other businesses that operate.

TB biggest health test

The National, July 10th, 2015

MANY deaths in health facilities in Simbu are related to Tuberculosis and HIV, according to the provincial disease controller Steven Show. He said TB was the biggest health challenge in the province and country and was causing deaths in hospitals and health centres. Show revealed this following three days of intensive health facilities performance quarterly reviews in Chuave district.

“TB/HIV are causing many deaths according to the reports from the six districts of Simbu,” Show said. “We are now embarking on a massive TB/HIV awareness campaign in the districts starting with Chuave and Kundiawa,” Show said.

Mission offers care, shelter to poor youth

The National, Monday July 13th, 2015

City Mission, a charity non-governmental organisation, provides more than 1000 meals daily and accommodates 400-plus underprivileged, mistreated youths through its new life-skill training centre, an official says. Executive assistant of the charity home, Dorothy Koch-Waluta said the organisation had opened its doors in 1993 with a broad aim to house, feed and offer spiritual direction to troubled young men on the streets of Port Moresby. This quickly expanded with the addition of Mirigeda Farm where the young men could get away from the temptations of the city. “This farm is now the facility for new life-skills training focusing on training and rehabilitating the young men spiritually, mentally and physically,” Koch-Waluta said. She said about 320 young men were involved in the programme in Port Moresby and Lae, the only two operating centre. “About 50 per cent of these young men have no formal education, 10 per cent have made it at least to school while 40 per cent had a little bit of education but through this programme they were able to acquire skills training to sustain themselves.”

She said following successful operation in the nation’s capital, City Mission started in Lae with the opening of the Suambu New Life Plantation in 2006.  Buablung Hostel complemented the new life plantation by offering transitional housing for the young men who found work in town.

Oral cancer rising: Surgeon

The National, Tuesday July 14th, 2015

THERE has been an overwhelming increase in oral cancer patients in recent years and the statistics are alarming, a doctor says. Health Department’s chief of dentistry Dr Matupi Apaio, who is the only oral maxillofacial surgeon in the country, said they were now seeing at least a case per week – a worrying trend. “The number of cancer patients has dramatically increased especially mouth cancer patients in the country,” he said. “Previously, only one or two (cases) will come in months at a time.

“Many referrals around the country don’t get sent in because they are at the late stages. Only the cases that are manageable are sent to Port Moresby.” He said the negligence of proper oral hygiene and poor dietary changes were to be blamed for tooth decay and poor gums. They eventually led to mouth cancer and other diseases of the mouth. “We are at a stage were lifestyle diseases are killing people in the country so we should all have to be cautious about what we eat,” he said. “Refined sugar will not only cause tooth decay but it will draw other medical problems such as high blood pressure and diabetes. “So diet is the most important factor to regulate and maintain our health.”

Gold Ridge mine: Toxic tailings dam on the brink of overflow; environmentalists fear mass contamination ABC News.

As heavy rain continues to fall in the Solomon Islands following Tropical Cyclone Raquel last week, fears the Gold Ridge mine’s toxic tailings dam will overflow are starting to intensify. The local government declared the area a disaster zone, but experts fear hardly enough precautions are being taken to prevent looming disaster to surrounding communities. The Gold Ridge tailings dam contains millions of tonnes of hazardous chemicals like cyanide and arsenic, and was purportedly not designed to accommodate overstrain. An overflow would heavily contaminate the water supplies for the many people living downstream from the site whose livelihood depends on the same water supply. The damn now sits at 20 centimetres below maximum capacity.

Lawrence Makili, the Earth Island Institute’s Solomon Islands director, said while some landowners were aware of the rising situation, the majority were not even aware anything was happening or the danger they potentially faced. “Only those who are aware of the risk or the dangers of what is going to happen are preparing at the moment,” Mr Makili said. He said the majority of those living around the mining dam were rural and farming communities who live directly off of the same systems of water.

A mass contamination would be catastrophic, and as of yet, there has been no major precautions taken outside of the announcement that the dam might overflow. Australian miner Saint Barbara sold off the mine to the Gold Ridge company in May, after production was suspended for over a year in the midst of disputes over rejected recommendations that the polluted water needs to be released.

Youths want death penalty out

The National, Wednesday July 15th, 2015

CATHOLIC youths in the Highlands region staged a protest march against the death penalty last week. During their Highlands Regional Rally at Laiagam in Enga, the youths called on the Government to throw out the law on death penalty and replace it with maximum jail sentence.

The youths marched for 3km from Wanepap to Laiagam Station with banners highlighting that the death penalty was against Christianity. The Catholic Church has a petition going against the death penalty. Representatives from churches, Laiagam–Porgera district administration staff, Caritas Papua New Guinea and police watched the protest last week. The youths addressed issues about drugs, homebrew, tribal fights and other activities, adding that they contributed to destroying life.

Ale Asa, from Wabag youth and chairperson of the organising committee, described the death penalty as unhealthy for the nation. He said they were reminding the Government that it had to look at other ways to deal with the rising law and order issues. “This will not do us any good. It will destroy our Christian faith and the Government must look at ways to stop it,” Asa said. “This nation will progress and see good things if only it operates on God’s principles.”

Calls to scrap live broadcasts of State of Origin matches in PNG

http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2015/07/calls-to-scrap-live-broadcasts-of-state-of-origin-matches-in-png.html

STATE of Origin contests have long been famed as arenas epitomising physical aggression and tribal combativeness. However, that aggression is spilling over the sidelines with horrifying consequences.

There have been calls to ban live broadcasts of Origin games in Papua New Guinea because of violent outbursts that are erupting after matches, resulting in deaths. Speaking to the ABC, an Enga police spokesman said the interstate matches drove people into a frenzy, and that the only way to eradicate this behaviour was to ban all live coverage.

“The way people watch the Origin matches are going crazy nowadays. We’ve got so many deaths…there’s a lot of killing in places because of State of Origin matches,” said the spokesman.

“When it’s on live, the people watching it, they go crazy, I don’t know for whatever reason.

“It’s a game where people normally watch and enjoy themselves but nowadays it’s not that, it’s changing, supporters of the Blues and supporters of the Maroons, they’ve started to hate each other, argue…it’s throughout the country. “I call on the government of Papua New Guinea to ban the live coverage of Origin matches in Papua New Guinea.”

Drunken celebrations caused the deaths of at least three people during this year’s series, while violent altercations between rival supporters reportedly break out after almost every encounter. Houses and business were also ravaged by angry fans during the latest series. Local media reported that supporters clashed outside Wabag after the third and deciding game last Wednesday, pelting each other with rocks. While this particular incident didn’t result in any deaths, it was part of an alarming trend.

Australia/Papua New Guinea: The Pacific Non-Solution

Two Years On, Refugees Face Uncertainty, Restrictions on Rights

https://www.hrw.org/news/2015/07/15/australia/papua-new-guinea-pacific-non-solution

(Sydney) – More than 850 asylum seekers and 87 refugees are detained indefinitely in poor conditions on Manus Island two years after Australia announced it would process and resettle “boat people” in Papua New Guinea (PNG), Human Rights Watch and the Human Rights Law Centre said today.

Since January 2015, PNG and Australian authorities have transferred 40 men found to be refugees to a transit center, but they are still prevented from leaving Manus Island and are denied opportunities to work and study.

Mental Health Impact

Asylum seekers and refugees report that conditions inside the detention center are overcrowded and that the protracted and indefinite nature of detention is causing significant mental health issues including depression and anxiety. Service providers acknowledged that lengthy periods of time in detention is detrimental to mental health and makes the eventual transition of refugees into PNG society even more difficult. Some refugees transferred to the transit center rarely leave their rooms, apparently still traumatized by their experience in detention.

“In detention you become domesticated. Like an animal inside a cage – you think they are fine, they look fine, they seem healthy, but they could not survive in nature. That is like us now,” said one refugee. Speaking about the mental state of others, he added, “Mentally, they are not fine. The mind doesn’t work very well. They read, but they can only read a page and they forget. They lose concentration. They won’t leave their rooms. They have lost the ability to live.”

“In Burma the government shoots us,” said a member of the persecuted Rohingya minority. “But here they kill us mentally.”

[For the full article, see the url above]

The Plight Of Long Islanders In Madang

Post Courier, July 20, 2015

Basic government services are reportedly non-existent in Madang’s remote Long Island and concerns have been raised by the lone health worker there for urgent intervention. The calls are from Mathew Salung and following another boating mishap between the waters of Madang and Morobe over a week ago in which 15 people have reportedly been missing and now presumed dead by authorities. Of the 15, six were locals from Wasu who were headed for Rai Cast for a sporting tournament while of the nine from Long Island, four were patients who were making the trip back to Long Island with their guardians. Salung lamented in an interview with the Post-Courier that this was not the first time men, women and children from this remote island had perished out at sea while in search of basic government services. He said back in 1996, 11 people-among them several school children had perished, neither the boat nor their bodies were found. Yet again in 2014 another motorised dinghy carrying about seven people including students also went missing. The only trace left behind was the dinghy they were reportedly travelling in which had been washed ashore. “This is the third time people have actually gone missing but there have been numerous other instances of mishaps. All these ought not to have happened if our health centres and schools were up and running. Services ground to a halt in 2007 and there has been little effort by our politicians and authorities in the provincial administration to restore normalcy. Even communication is non-existent. There are no mobile phone towers on the island. The only mode of communication which was the health radio which was installed by Former Madang Governor and Health Minister Sir Peter Barter but this was pulled out also in 2007 leaving the island in complete darkness.

Immunisation Coverage Remains Low: Medic

The National, 22nd July, 2015

There is low immunisation coverage where more than 25 per cent of children under the age of five die from sicknesses that can be prevented by vaccines, an official says. Technical officer of the expanded programme of the immunisation (EPI) for the Health Department, Johnny Arava said the two leading common causes of deaths were complications of pneumonia and measles. He said the country was not reaching its national immunisation coverage of more than 90 per cent despite special immunisation goals being developed in the national health plan (2011-2020) and immunisation coverage remained stagnant. “For example, the percentage of measles vaccine coverage from 2009 to 2013 in the country was below 60 per cent,” Arava said. That prompted the Health Department to introduce an integrated routine immunisation exercise into the national immunisation programme.

Risky Chopper Journey To Save PNG Jungle Triplets|

Post-Courier, 20th July, 2015. Story courtesy of Radio New Zealand International

A woman who gave birth to triplets in a remote village in Papua New Guinea’s Morobe province took six days to reach a hospital in Lae, after tribal fighting stopped her from reaching medical help. Gile Sayiyong gave birth to the triplets last week without any medical assistance, because she couldn’t reach a nearby health centre as two groups of people were engaged in fierce fighting, cutting off access. Unable to get to the medical centre, Ms Sayiyong relied on a helicopter evacuation, but that proved a challenge in itself. The helicopter’s pilot Jurgen Ruh says it took two attempts in poor weather and mountainous terrain to reach the village, but he eventually made it. “I followed the river very close to the surface and as I got further in the rain got heavier and the clouds got thicker, so I was unable to have safe visibility. I turned around and then I tried to go over the top and then I tried to get in from the north and I tried to come from the east. Then three hours later the fog had lifted and I was able to come in under the cloud.” Jurgen Ruh says the mother and triplets are still in hospital for observation, but are otherwise doing fine.

Slave Boats in Papua New Guinea

See the story at: http://bigstory.ap.org/urn:publicid:ap.org:c2fe8406ff7145a8b484deae3f748aa5

Statement by Catholic Bishops Conference – The Contribution of Sport

With the Pacific Games coming soon to Papua New Guinea, sport will be a topic of interest for many people. At this time your Bishops wish to offer a reflection on the value of sport and ways that we can all benefit.

The Church recognises sport to be one of the great institutions of our society that helps individuals realise their human potential and builds up the bonds of the community, fostering comunal initiative and responsibility.

Sport contributes to physical and mental health and wellbeing. It teaches people, particularly young people skills and resilience. When youth become involved in sport, they devote their energies to teaming together in a healthy environment, forgetting about antisocial activities such as violence and crime.

Sport brings people together in new ways. Parents and teachers volunteer their time to organise events. Women may be spectators in many public events, but with sport in the village, in games such as volleyball and basketball, they play equally along with males. Sporting contests often provide special facilities for disabled athletes – a consideration that could well be matched in other spheres of life.

Sport opens us up to the wider world. Many of us eagerly watch the “State of Origin” being played in Australia. Back home, how many of us feel proud when one of our athletes wins a medal in international events such as the Commonwealth Games. Athletes such as Dika Toua or Stephen Kari have become household symbols of our achievement in the eyes of the world.

When interactions offer fun, competition, skill and goal-setting, there is a fertile environment for personal development. Sport builds character. It teaches us discipline as we learn to play by the rules. When sports teams promote fairness, firmness and moral courage, there exists a wonderful space in which to help young people grow into adulthood: a form of initiation where the “elders” (coaches or teachers) set goals and boundaries in a safe, caring and no-nonsense setting. In such settings the benefits flow not just to the local community, but to the nation as a while.

But there is also another side to sport that can bring sadness rather than delight. We should keep in mind that special events come and go but normal life goes on. It is important to keep a balance between the value of sport and sporting events and other goals of society. Some countries have been so keen to project a good image on the international stage that their people have been left suffering and paying bills for years afterwards. Let us make sure this does not happened to PNG

Sometimes there is violence on the field or among spectators. On occasion there is gambling and betting and associated abuse of drugs and alcohol. We must guard against such antisocial activities that ruin the good name of sport. Also we are saddened to see some sports events scheduled on Sunday mornings, which are a time that most Christians devote to Sunday worship. We ask that sports managers try to keep the Sunday holy, having in mind the words of St Paul to the Corinthians (1 Cor 9:25) “Every athlete concentrates completely on training in order to be crowned with a wreath that will not last; but we do it for one that will last forever.”

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Social Concerns Notes – June 2015

New Act to protect children

Post Courier, June 09, 2015

THE new Lukautim Pikinini Act passed by Parliament last Friday will hold parents accountable for neglecting their parental responsibilities and allowing others to raise their children. The Act will also protect and verify mushrooming of childcare homes throughout the country, as many people want to make easy money on the pretext of setting up such centres. Minister for Community Development Delilah Gore said in her statement that there were many such orphanage homes mushrooming throughout the country to make money, and therefore the Act will also look at appointing inspectors who will verify and approve all childcare centres based on their performances and other prerequisites to qualify as a childcare centre. She said the Act also involves the creation of provincial child and family service committee who will help in protecting the welfare of children in the country.

She said every child needs protection and the child and family service committee will identify genuine children who will be called ‘Child of State’ if the child is really parentless.

Gore said the Lukautim Pikinini Act is basically drafted to protect and safeguard the rights of the Children. She said too many children were forced to live on the streets and that has been a major concern and the Act will have the parents responsible and accountable for their actions.

Among some of those children are the young children who are forced to look for money and food, begging on the streets in major towns and cities. The Act has been described as a big step in protecting young children and their rights to live a good life. The Bill was supported by all members of Parliament (73-0).

Juffa: Child sex trade real

Post Courier, June 09, 2015

CHILD sex trade is a reality and striving in Papua New Guinea, Oro Governor Garry Juffa said.

While debating on the Lukautim Pikinini Act that was passed in Parliament last Friday, Mr Juffa said the Law also needs to look at issues like child pornography and child sex trade to safeguard young children in the country. He said with globalisation and the internet, childrens’ behaviours have changed as they are heavily influenced by foreign introductions. “Like the one in Philippines, foreigners with money lure young girls and take pictures of them to make money. The child sex industry is striving in PNG. Young children, particularly from settlements in Port Moresby and Lae are involved in the industry. Therefore we need to protect them by putting laws in place to regulate such practices,” a concerned Mr Juffa said.

Mr Juffa also proposed for the inclusion in the Act to control some food items that were not good for the children like betelnut and smoke. He said the Act should also look at creating an institution that would take care of abandoned children. Shadow Attorney General Dr Allan Marat, while commending the Act, said many of the social issues in the country are caused by broken families. He said if the country is to change, then parents have to change their behaviours first. Children learn from the environment where they are raised.

Anti-child marriage bill expected to pass

Post Courier, June 01, 2015. Story courtesy of ABC News

A law making marriage under the age of 18 illegal is expected to be soon tabled and passed in parliament.There is currently no legislation to regulate the marriage age, meaning child marriage is practiced legally. UNICEF’s 2015 statistics found 2 per cent of women aged 20-24 were married by the age of 15, with 21 per cent married by 18 years of age. “We are aware and we are mindful that this is happening,” Mr Kwa told Pacific Beat. “So we need to address this at a national level.”

Mr Kwa said PNG’s cabinet had signalled its intention to approve the law. The issue, he said, would be enforcing the legislation, especially in the “far-flung areas of the country”. “We know it’s going to be a major issue for us in terms of implementation, but we would like to enact the law and then inform the people,” he said. Mr Kwa said the marriage laws will “gel together” with recently-introduced free education and free basic healthcare legislation.

In Vanuatu, the law forbids marriage of women before the age of 16, and for men before the age of 18.

But Vanuatu Women’s Centre (VWC) coordinator Marilyn Tahi said throughout Melanesia, traditional perspectives were still prevalent. “Our people even have traditions where so long as they’re menstruating, they’re ready to be married off,” she said. “Others say, so long as they have breasts, they’re ready to be married off.”

Smoking high among students

Post Courier, June 01, 2015

FORTY-two per cent of secondary school students, between the ages of 13 and 21, smoke tobacco cigarettes. That is almost half of Papua New Guinea’s future leaders. “Children as young as 10 years old are smoking! Where is this country heading?” Said acting health secretary Elva Lionel.

She was speaking during activities to mark World No Tobacco Day at Gordon Secondary School in Port Moresby.

“A study on secondary school students indicated an 11 per cent consumption rate of illegal cigarettes.

“Just because illegal tobacco is cheaper doesn’t mean it is better for consumption. It is just as harmful as regulated tobacco,” the acting secretary said. “Girls are smoking. Women are smoking. This is not good for our country. The ‘factory for children’ should stop smoking.” Ms Lionel warned women against smoking because they are more likely to have unhealthy babies. The occasion was complemented with a debate between Gerehu and Gordon secondary schools on the pros and cons of smoking.

Smoking kills, warns heart doctor

Post Courier, June 03, 2015

A HEART specialist says smoking increases the risk of heart disease 10 times more than obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes. He says in PNG patients, smoking causes heart disease at a younger age, in their 40s and 50s. It currently costs K40,000 to treat a person suffering with a heart disease in PNG – money most Papua New Guineans cannot afford. A World Bank report released this week gives alarming statistics on tobacco consumption, saying 40 percent of Papua New Guineans smoke.

While infectious diseases such as tuberculosis, malaria and diarrhoea remain high disease burdens, the rate of non-communicable diseases such as cancers are also rising rapidly in PNG.

Medical professionals have more than once raised concerns about the high rate of people needing health services as compared to the manpower available to attend to them.

Health crisis

Post Courier, June 03, 2015

THERE is a 15-year human resource gap in the health sector that the National Government is struggling to close. This simply means that there are now 17,000 health workers coming out of training schools every year compared with a high 27,000 annually in 2000. Health and HIV Minister Michael Malabag told Parliament it was a gap far reaching and hard to cover, a gap created by bad advice and management by past governments such as closing nursing colleges, early retirement age and a low quota of graduates coming out of medical schools.

Yesterday, the minister was taken to task by Maprik MP John Simon during Question Time in Parliament when asked about the shortage of health workers in Maprik.

Mr Malabag replied: “We are truly short. We have a shortage of health personnel in the country such as nurses and doctors and other senior staff in the health sector.”

Mr Malabag did not have an exact figure of medical doctors graduating from the country’s only medical school annually but he believed it was about 40 doctors. About half of them enter public health service while the other half enter private practice or pursue their careers overseas.

“What we want is 120 doctors every year but we cannot and the medical schools know why,” the Minister said. “Right now, hospitals can only hire from overseas to fill gaps until the country can have its own producing numbers.”

Manus crackdown: Oz government curtails workers’ rights

05 June 2015 http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2015/06/manus-crackdown-oz-government-curtails-workers-rights.html#more

More details have emerged about the censorship of doctors, teachers, journalists, NGO employees, church workers and anyone else employed there or reporting on what is happening there at the detention centre on Manus. These professionals can go to jail merely for reporting abuse, which one would assume to be the ethical, humane and right thing to do. Under sweeping new laws designed to gag whistleblowers, doctors, teachers and other professionals working in immigration detention facilities face up to two years in prison if they speak out against conditions in the centres or provide information to journalists. The malevolent Border Force Act, passed quietly by the Australian parliament on 14 May with both major parties assenting, forbids “entrusted people” from recording or disclosing information about conditions in centres such as that on Manus Island.

“Under the proposed measures, the unauthorised disclosures of information, including personal information will be punishable by imprisonment for two years,” the Act says.

The new law will come into force next month at the same time the Australian immigration and customs departments merge. The president of the Australian Medical Association, Prof Brian Owler, said this was the first time doctors had been threatened with jail for revealing inadequate conditions for their patients in immigration centres.

Refugee ‘bashed’ by guards on Manus Island for missing transit centre curfew

Post Courier, June 03, 2015, Story courtesy of ABC News Australia

Security guards on Manus Island have reportedly assaulted a refugee for not returning to the East Lorengau transit centre by the 6:00pm curfew. The Iranian man was at a local restaurant at around 10:00pm when guards from the transit centre assaulted him and took him back to the Australian-funded accommodation.

The refugee is one of a small group of men who have had their asylum claim processed, have left detention and are awaiting permanent resettlement in another part of Papua New Guinea.

However, the PNG Government has not formed a policy for resettling refugees and is giving them no indication how long they will be kept on Manus Island.

While free from the Australian-run detention centre on the Lombrum Naval Base, the refugees are expected to return to the East Lorengau transit centre between 6:00pm and 6:00am.

The night curfew on Manus Island is part of wider restrictions for the refugees awaiting resettlement.

In March, Iranian refugee Reza Mollagholipour was denied permission to leave Manus Island to attend job interviews he had organised in PNG’s capital Port Moresby. Earlier this year Mr Mollagholipour expressed optimism about finding a job and starting a new life in Papua New Guinea but in recent weeks has told the ABC he is losing hope. PNG’s prime minister Peter O’Neill said last month that 129 asylum seekers had been granted refugee status, while more than 400 had returned to their home countries. To date, no refugee has been resettled in PNG.

Migration office assesses asylum seekers

The National, Wednesday June 10th, 2015

MORE than 500 asylum seekers on Manus have had their refugee claims assessed, according to Chief Migration Officer Mataio Rabura. Rabura said 129 had been determined to be refugees by the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Immigration, Rimbink Pato. Forty have been moved to the East Lorengau Refugee Transit Centre to undertake language and cultural orientation training. A recruitment agency is assisting them prepare for jobs and to link them to appropriate firms. They are now awaiting Cabinet’s endorsement of the national refugee integration policy. “They will be permitted to commence work once the National Executive Council endorses (the) policy,” he said.

He said the Government was confident they “will make a positive contribution to our communities”.

“But patience is required as this is a very sensitive process and must be done properly,” Rabura said.

On the arrest of the three migration officers implicated in the abuse of a refugee in Manus on June 1, he said police were dealing with the matter. “If it is proven that there was any wrong doing by immigration officers, they will be subject to internal disciplinary proceedings in addition to any judicial sentence.”

Failed arrest warrants pile up

The National, Wednesday June 4th, 2015

THE Waigani committal court has a huge number of warrants of arrest for people who had failed to comply with bail conditions, Magistrate John Kaumi said. Some of them go back two years.

Kaumi revealed this when refusing a bail application yesterday for Obert Stanley, charged with sexually penetrating a girl aged three, at Hohola 3, Port Moresby, in April this year.

He said: “(There are) More than 15 boxes full of outstanding warrant of arrests dating back a couple of years for people who have been granted bail but who have escaped.” “This is for Waigani alone and does not reflect other district courts of the National Capital District and Central. But I daresay it will be around the same amount or more. “The trend seems that a grant of bail is taken as one-way ticket for the applicants to disappear into oblivion and never again seen in court. “It is a testimony of the failure of bail authorities to carefully assess the trustworthiness of the applicants to adhere to all bail conditions.

Investigation into sorcery killing on the way

Post Courier, June 04, 2015,

The Enga provincial government has financed a plane trip for police to venture to Enga to investigate an alleged sorcery killing that occurred last week. A sorcery killing so gruesome that it has once again put PNG in the international communities spotlight. Missionaries and police say a mother of four, known as Misila, was hacked to death last week in Fiyawena village in Enga province, when 10 men who had earlier accused her of sorcery, carried out a brutal summary execution with an axe.

The Provincial Police Commander for Enga, George Kakas, says police resources are very limited, and the village is a two-hour flight and then a further two-hour walk from Wabag town.

He says now that the provincial government has responded to requests for funding, a plane will be chartered this week, taking officers and investigators to Fiyawena. Missionaries say the primitive beliefs in sanguma, or evil spirits, appear to be spreading from village to village in the highlands.

The socioeconomic effects of corruption on Papua New Guinea both present and future

http://www.pngblogs.com/2015/06/the-socioeconomic-effects-of-corruption.html

One of the factors that cause development stagnation in PNG is corruption. In PNG, corruption is widespread and endemic, penetrating all levels of society. Although, corruption flourishes in secrecy, the social and economic effects of it are visible and affect everyone in the country.

Despite unprecedented economic growth with the country experiencing a decade of mineral resources boom, the value of kina has not performed well at the international market. Moody’s 2015 report shows that PNG’s B1 foreign currency and local currency ratings have dropped significantly from stable to negative. Due to government embarking on ambitious development programs our fiscal deficits have widened significantly, hence our external debt had risen to an estimated 37.7% of GDP in 2014. PNG’s debt level, according to Moody’s report exceeded 40% which means our expenditure has significantly exceeded our production and revenue. Many international commentators further state that the government’s preaching about growing economic boom has brought nothing or had little effect on the lives of the ordinary citizens. Poverty is still widespread.

Various social and economic indicators demonstrate the visible effects of corruption in the country. According to Transparency International’s 2013 Corruption Perception Index, PNG is ranked 150th out of 176 countries, with a score of 25 on a scale of 0 – 100, where zero means that a country is highly corrupt and hundred means a country is very clean. According to the World Bank, PNG’s Human Development Index (HDI) was ranked 153rd out of 187 countries and for Gender Inequality Index (GII) PNG was again placed 153rd out of 187 countries. More than 80% of the country’s population lives in the rural areas where subsistence economy remains the main source of income and daily sustenance. It was estimated that in the period 1993–2002, approximately 57.4% of the population survived on less than $2 a day, suggesting that 70% of the population live below poverty line. The latest Economic and Social Survey Report of the Asia Pacific region reports negatively that the income inequality is widening significantly to the detriment of women, especially in the rural areas…. Significant social indicators such as unemployment is increasing and the current rate is estimated to be higher than 70%. The growing number of “street children” found in PNG’s major towns and cities speaks for itself and has become an eye sore challenge for government’s public policy and development strategies for the future….

The health sector is also battling with very troubling health issues in the country. Many of PNG’s premier hospitals have run down with little or no lifesaving equipment such as kidney dialysis, radiogram machine and even X-Rays and other lifesaving machine are near death stages. [See the url above to access the complete article]

Sorcery and sexism in Papua New Guinea

07 June 2015 http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2015/06/sorcery-and-sexism-in-papua-new-guinea.html. By Helen Clark.

ONE of Papua New Guinea’s most persistent problems is not its possibly overheated resource sector nor allegations of corruption. It’s witchcraft. More specifically, the vicious murders of women accused of sorcery. This is a complex problem that involves violence against women, land reclamations, and a rapidly developing nation. A press release from Amnesty International called on the government to do more to protect women in the nation after a woman known as Mifla was hacked to death by a group of men in mid-May. Two other women were also threatened and only just escaped. The trio, along with their children, were first accused in January. A long-time Papua New Guinea resident and land rights activist, Lutheran missionary Anton Lutz, had been documenting the attacks and told the Australian Associated Press, “They believed she was a sanguma (sorcerer), that she was responsible for deaths and misfortune in their world.” Mifila’s death is not uncommon. Attacks, largely targeting unprotected women, based on sorcery allegations have been an increasing problem in PNG, though belief in witchcraft and punishments for it is, says a UN paper from 2013, “culturally embedded.” …

PNG, the consensus goes, must do more. “Papua New Guinea’s authorities must once and for all bring a halt to attacks against alleged ‘sorcerers’ and systemic violence against women.,” said Amnesty’s Kate Schuetze in last week’s press release. Helen Haro from the country Gender Justice Program Manager for Oxfam told The Diplomat that the PNG had shown initiative and commitment, not just in getting rid of the sorcery act but also in drafting the Sorcery Action Plan and more broadly establishing Family Sexual Violence Units and Family Support Centres. “These reforms have, however, been driven by non-government organizations – the government must show its commitment with resource allocation and enforcement.” …

Although women are disproportionately affected the drivers are not simply misogyny but rather money. Much like the terror of the Spanish Inquisition, “witches” are targeted in property disputes, according to Haro. “Our work in the highlands with the Human Rights Defenders Network revealed that while in some cases accusations of sorcery are passed from family to family for generations and driven by strong beliefs, other claims are fabricated for financial gain. Recent research by Oxfam found that in 2 in every 3 accusations resulting in a relocation, sorcery accusations were used as a means of repossessing wealth or resources such as land, houses, or businesses of the person accused.”

[For the full article, access the url above]

Absence of human rights panel affects many citizens

The National, Tuesday June 9th, 2015

THE long delay by the Government to establish a Human Rights Commission in Papua New Guinea leaves a lot of citizens discriminated against as the Ombudsman Commission is not empowered to investigate deeply, the OC said. This is one of the issues faced by the Ombudsman Commission, which Ombudsman Phoebe Sengetari pointed out last Friday in its Lae consultation with the public and  stakeholders in its attempt to make parliament submission to amend the organic laws governing it to expand its powers and jurisdiction. Sengetari said the OC could look into discriminatory practices and complaints touching on human rights issues but there were restrictions under its jurisdiction under the Organic Law on Ombudsman Commission and the Organic Law on Duties and Responsibilities of Leadership. “The government has been talking about setting up a Human Rights Commission, but it’s of a kick-start-stop type of approach for a long period of time now. “So in the meantime, the OC has been performing these functions because we are required as part of our functions to look at discriminatory practices under a particular law,” she said.

Momis praises Bougainville people’s commitment to democracy

http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2015/06/momis-praises-bougainville-peoples-commitment-to-democracy.html, 09 June 2015

BOUGAINVILLE’S president-elect John Momis says Bougainvilleans’ conduct in the recent election has shown their commitment to democracy. Dr Momis was speaking after the final results came though at the weekend following a week-long count for the presidency. He was declared President of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville on Saturday morning having collected 51,382 votes after the fourth elimination. Dr Momis thanked the people of Bougainville for having the faith in him to lead the team that would take them into the future. He also thanked candidates who stood in the election for their commitment to contribute to the process of peace-building in Bougainville.

Dr Momis also congratulated the people of Bougainville for making sure the election was conducted fairly and freely. He said despite people’s differences they can work together for the common good of Bougainville. He also congratulated Electoral Commissioner George Manu and electoral authorities on the successful staging of the election, which was conducted for the first time by the autonomous region’s own electoral commission. Dr Momis said, despite some hiccups, the election was conducted peacefully and showed people’s commitment to democratic principles, values and the Bougainville vision.

Bougainville government ready to talk mining with Rio Tinto

http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2015/06/bougainville-ready-to-talk-mining-with-rio-tinto.html#more 09 June 2015

BOUGAINVILLE’S newly re-elected president, Dr John Momis, says one of his first moves will be talking with Rio Tinto on whether it is interested in re-opening the Panguna mine. Dr Momis won a resounding victory after counting in the autonomous Papua New Guinea region was completed at the weekend. Bougainville is to conduct a vote on possible independence before 2020 and Mr Momis says mining is the only way to quickly achieve the necessary fiscal self-reliance required before then.

He wants to talk with Rio Tinto first because they ran the Panguna mine, through Bougainville Copper Ltd, before the Bougainville conflict. “Hoping we can come to an agreement to start taking some practical steps to re-open the mine,” Dr Momis said, “but if Rio Tinto chooses not to engage us then we have other options to look at.” Rio Tinto has been reviewing its position after the former government passed a new mining law.

Street kids sent home

The National, Wednesday June 10th, 2015

CITY authorities in Port Moresby have started clearing the streets of children involved in selling items, or in any form of child labour. City manager Leslie Alu has appealed to parents and primary care-givers to take their children from the streets and be more responsible for their safety, development and welfare. He said the National Capital District Commission was the city’s governing authority which was concerned about the increasing number of children roaming the streets, or living and working on the streets and public places, as the Pacific Games nears. Some have reportedly been involved in the sex industry although figures could not be confirmed. Parliament passed last week the Lukautim Pikinini Bill which ensured that children were protected and enjoyed basic rights such as access to education, health, food, love and care. Alu warned that parents who failed to carry out their responsibilities could be charged with negligence. “Individuals or groups must stop the practice of child labour and exploitation for commercial purposes and self-gain,” he said.“Amicable laws will be applied on those concerned. Children must refrain from directing cars at parking lots, begging and selling items in public places.” He said their safety and health were at risk.  “You must return to your parents and homes and go to school,” he said.

PNG drug dangerous

The National, Wednesday June 10th, 2015

MARIJUANA grown in the country has a high cannabis content which can damage the brain, an officer from the National Narcotics Bureau says. Education and awareness officer Lawrence Tau said many young people had become mentally ill because of this. He said PNG marijuana had very high cannabis content than those in other parts of the world. Tau said marijuana contained 421 chemicals and the one that was most dangerous was THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) which could cause neurological disorder in the brain. “Brain coordination among those who smoke marijuana may malfunction because the toxins from the cannabis destroy the brain cells.”

‘Bulb eater’ to dispose of old tube lights

The National, Wednesday June 10th, 2015

PNG Power Ltd is calling on individuals and organisations in Port Moresby to bring old tube lights and bulbs to be disposed of in an environmentally-friendly way by using a machine. Corporate relations officer Stanley Mark said during World Environment Day celebration at Port Moresby Nature Park last Saturday that florescent tubes and incandescent bulbs contained mercury which was harmful to the environment and to people’s health. He said the “bulb eater” machine neutralised the mercury for disposal. “We have to be conscious with our environment by properly disposing dangerous chemicals like mercury,” Mark said. “If we dispose them wrongly, they will be washed by rain into the rivers which people or animals drink from.” Mark urged individuals and companies to bring their old light bulbs and tubes to the company’s Hohola head office. Mark said they had so far disposed about 5000 florescent tubes and bulbs.

Shortage of blood a problem in hospitals

Post Courier, June 11, 2015

SHORTAGE of blood has always been a problem faced by all hospitals, says Deputy Health Secretary Paison Dakulala. “We have lost precious lives in parts of the country due to non-availability of blood. We need more awareness, more co-operation and participation from both public and the private sectors to assist us in participating in voluntary blood promotions and blood drives,” he said.

In Papua New Guinea most of the blood is used to treat anaemia in women (obstetrics complications and cancer) and children. Trauma is our next biggest user and cancers. On Tuesday, Dr Dakulala and head of National Blood Transfusion Services Dr Marilyn Mathias urged the public to donate. Dr Mathias said there were a lot of misconceptions about donating blood. She emphasised that there was current awareness on those myths.

According to the Health Department, the NBTS collects on average 30,000 units of blood annually, 57 per cent are from voluntary unpaid donors and 43 per cent are from family replacement blood donors.

According to WHO requirements and recommendations, PNG needs to collect 120,000-150,000 units of blood per year. We collect only 25 per cent of our annual requirement. Also, all these donated blood are screened for HIV, hepatitis B, and syphilis. There are 35 blood banks located in each provincial hospitals and district hospitals where people could go to donate blood. Every healthy person can donate blood every three months (four times annually).

Mother dies after delivery due to lack of govt service

Post Courier, June 11, 2015

A MOTHER in labour delivered successfully but died shortly afterwards because she had no access to medicine and a midwife. This sad event took place recently at Borudi village situated in the mountain ranges of Koiari district in Central Province, northeast of Port Moresby. Borudi village councillor Arthur Danny related the story this week, adding that young mother would be alive today if she had access to proper medical facility, drugs and a medical officer to attend to her during a difficult labour.

“An Aid Post was funded under the Central Province services improvement program in 2009. However, the building was left empty with no medical officers, no medical facilities and no drugs to serve more than 2000 people of Borudi and four neighboring villages,” Cr Danny said. “Many people have lost their lives while a few have struggled to travel to Kokoda and Port Moresby to get medical treatment or seek a doctor’s help,” he said.

Affected cocoa farmer shed tears

Post Courier, June 15, 2015,

LINA Martin could not hold back her tears when describing how her cocoa block was totally destroyed by an oil palm developer in the Inland Baining area of East New Britain Province.

Over 500 cocoa trees were cut down and hopes of planting 200 more cocoa seedlings that she acquired from the World Bank funded Baining Cooperative Society nursery at Kulit ward were shattered. From Radingi Ward, Mrs Martin is one of several farmers whose cocoa blocks were bulldozed to make way for oil palm development. She said they were not told that their cocoa trees will be cut down.

“Mipla kirap nogut lo ol man ikam wantem saw na katim tasol,” she told reporters who had gone up to the area last week accompanied by government officials and police. She said the land on which she had planted her crops was customary land and that she was a landowner. Mrs Martin said she was part of the eight clans that make up the landowner company Quareqa Limited which had engaged an Asian company Tzen Niugini to bring in oil palm development. However, she said she did not sign up to be part of the new development and did not want oil palm to be planted on her land.

Doctor set to make difference in rural area

Post Courier, June 17, 2015,

DOCTORS are highly regarded, especially in rural and remote parts of this country, and a simple message they give on health is often taken seriously. This was Dr Gideon Gelesi’s experience that saved thousands of lives from cholera in remote Lambutina and Nambariwa villages of Wasu area in Morobe Province. It was in July 2009 when he went home to bury his father. And during that time, a man fell ill from cholera, a disease that no one, not even health workers in the area, had detected before and knew about. Realising what it was, he told the villagers: “Boil all your drinking water and wash your hands with soap and water.’’He also educated the people about the disease.

He then took the dying man after putting him on drip, accompanied by his relatives, and headed to the nearest health facility, the Etep Lutheran run rural hospital, where his father had earlier received medical help. There were five deaths from cholera at the time. While the sick man was being treated, he sat down a young doctor and spoke to him about this disease called cholera. He advised him to be prepared because more cholera patients were going to come. He also took out his own dad’s medical file and showed him where the flaws were, not because he was angry but wanted to ensure that the hospital did things right to prevent more people getting infected with the disease.

There was no treatment protocol on cholera in PNG. He then headed to Lae where he reported the matter to the provincial health authorities and later to Port Moresby to get the message out. Dr Gelesi is today working with the Department of High Education, Research, Science and Technology, where he is helping to send young people for skills training programs in Cairns, Australia.

Women protest hospital closure

Post Courier, June 17, 2015

MORE than 3000 women staged a peaceful protest in Porgera station last Friday, calling on the Health Department to take over the privately-run Porgera Hospital. The protest follows decisions to shut down operations due to lack of funding from the Government through the Porgera Development Authority (PDA). The protest was organised by Porgera District Women in Business and the Porgera District Women Associations, involving their members from 11 different women groups. PDWA president, Maria Kensary, said the hospital was the only major service in the valley despite the world-class mine and had to carry on after the mine ceased operations. “It has to start running as a Government hospital now so that we will have no problem when the mine operations shut down,” Mrs Kensary said. The hospital was established under the Porgera Mine agreement and, according to PDA director, Opis Yandapake, there was no source of funding.

Samaritan Aviation Saves Life

Post-Courier, 16th June, 2015

Samaritan Aviation has saved yet another life in the remote Torembi village of East Sepik Province. Earlier this week, Samaritan Aviation received an emergency call for a young woman from one of the 17 clinics that they look after in the province. Rosalia had been pregnant with her first child but lost her baby during labour at a nearby health centre and for the next five days she had suffered from a retained placenta. Health workers at the centre decided to place a desperate call to Samaritan Aviation in Wewak for help. Samaritan Aviation president Mark Palm told Post-Courier from Wewak yesterday that after hiking for 30 minutes and travelling by canoe for almost three hours, family and friends caring for Rosalia arrived at the Sepik River where Palm and nurse Gertrude from Catholic Health Services were waiting. Rosalia, who was in critical condition, was quickly loaded onto the country’s only float plane, locally known as Saman Balus, and flown to Wewak where she was rushed by ambulance to Boram Hospital and doctors were able to administer a procedure that saved her life. In 2014, Samaritan Aviation flew 117 life flights resulting in 104 saved lives, Mr Palm said, adding they had delivered more than 70,000 medical supplies in East Sepik Province since operation in PNG. More than 60 per cent of the lives which were saved were those of mothers and babies. Lowering the infant mortality and maternal death rates in the East Sepik Province continues to be one of the organisation’s main goals. By providing maternal health, newborn care and midwifery training in remote areas through partnership with non-profits like Living Child from Australia, those goals are being reached, Mr Palm said .The team at Samaritan Aviation, consisting of four families from America and four Papua New Guinean workers, are dedicated to showing God’s love through action using a hands-on approach.

City Mission Opens Childrens Crisis Centre

Post- Courier, 16th June, 2015

City Mission of Port Moresby has opened a crisis centre for children, including those commonly referred to as street children. However, the organisation’s administration manager Steve Highland said this was a temporary home for these children. He said the centre was being funded by Child Fund, an Australian non-governmental organisation, and would be run jointly with the Government’s custodian of the Lukautim Pikinini Act or the Director of the Child Welfare, National Capital District Commission and World Vision would be accepting children on six months basis while waiting for the Government to sort out issues relating to the child’s long-term future, including a home.

Water, a Strategic Asset

Post-Courier, 17th June, 2015

Water, one of PNG’s biggest natural resource, has been identified by the Government as a strategic asset to improve human development and economy of the people. Minister for National Planning and Monitoring Charles Abel said the Government has finally recognised the importance to utilise the country’s natural environment and its resources towards building a vibrant future of Papua New Guineans. He said this in light of the Government’s WaSH project and other fresh water management capacities. These were developed and captured in the medium term development plan 2016 – 2017 to create and maintain improved water access for the people. According to the plan, the key strategic priorities are development of strategic policy and action plan on water resources and implementation, increasing access of improved water source for rural and urban households and schools and health institutions, increasing cultivated area under irrigation, increasing the proportion of hydro-electricity in the energy sector plus increasing bottling of PNG’s fresh water for drinking.

Group gets seedlings for climate change plan

The National, Monday June 22nd, 2015

THE Mulmana Community Development Association in Hagen Central, Western Highlands received 4000 seedlings from the provincial government to start one of its pilot projects. The seedlings were part of a million seedlings the Government, under its personal viability programme, will make available to people in the four districts to help combat climate change and greenhouse effects.

Programme coordinator Lorence Soto  said the provincial government, under the leadership of Governor Paias Wingti, was aiming to supply 1,000,000 seedlings. The association was recently assigned by the provincial government to assume its responsibility under the program to supply seedlings to others. The association’s members have already built a nursery house.

MPs are lawmakers and not cheque book carriers and basic service deliverers

http://www.pngblogs.com/2015/06/mps-are-lawmakers-and-not-cheque-book.html

MPs are supposed to be lawmakers and not cheque book carriers promising to deliver basic government services. Implementing government policies and delivering basic services is the function and the responsibility of the public service mechanism in the country and not MPs.

We have more serious issues for the MPs to debate in the parliament and address them. The following are some serious issues affecting this country for the last 40 years and which every MP should be engaging in addressing them:

  1. Job creation – more than 85 % of the population still unemployed and live in rural villages untouchable by basic services;
  2. Energy security – the growth of the country needs cheap and reliable energy;
  3. High cost of living – PNG is one of the most expansive countries in the world;
  4. Food security – a healthy population will increase productivity and reduce medical costs. Reduce high cost of living;
  5. External and internal security – buildup of Indonesia military in the border is a concern. Tribal fights and ethnic violence is a grave concern;
  6. High cost of housing – the country needs cheap and affordable housing for every income level;
  7. Law and order problem – high unemployment and poverty is the cause of most law and order problems. The defense force and police force in the country becoming a problem too;
  8. Economic growth – diversification of the economy to grow every economic potential;
  9. Infrastructures – connecting up all provinces to boost traded and trousim;
  10. Corruption – trapping millions in poverty and contributing to the law and order problems; and
  11. You can add onto this list

MPs supposed to be discussing these issues and not becoming obsessed with cheque books.

Long-awaited letter by Pope Francis on the Environment

A comment on Laudiato Si – an Encyclical from Pope Francis, published on 18th June

Pope Francis has published a special letter (called an encyclical) on Caring for Creation and the Environment yesterday in Rome. It is a letter addressed to the whole of humanity, not just to Catholics. The letter has received a good deal of attention in the media throughout the world because it will touch on important issues such as climate change, pollution, poverty, and the like.

The Encyclical takes its name (Laudato si) from the invocation of Saint Francis of Assisi, “Praise be to you, my Lord” which in the Canticle of the Creatures reminds us that the earth, our common home “is like a sister with whom we share our life and a beautiful mother who opens her arms to embrace us”. We ourselves “are dust of the earth (cf. Gen 2:7); our very bodies are made up of her elements, we breathe her air and we receive life and refreshment from her waters”.

Pope Francis points out that it is not enough to look only at the “symptoms” such as global warming, changed weather patterns, and pollution, and to ignore the human causes of these issues. So there needs to be not only an environmental ecology to do with land, air and water, but also a cultural ecology that respects the culture and rights of people, including indigenous people, but also an ecology of daily life that would question aspects of modern technological culture.” The solution is seen the Catholic social principle of the “common good”. According to that principle, everyone has a right to clean air and clean water.

The Pope’s message is not just for so-called developed countries that use so much fossil fuel such as coal and oil. He mentions a number of issues relevant to PNG, such as the right to clean water, the importance of mangroves, the problems of deforestation, mercury pollution with gold-mining, or a “throw-away culture” that turns our environment into a trash heap. Pope Francis sees the solution in an “ecological conversion” — seeing nature not as something separate from ourselves or as a mere setting in which we live. Rather as human beings we must be in a respectful and loving relationship with God, with other human beings, and with nature.

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Social Concerns Notes – May 2015

Baki sets sights on police brutality

Post Courier 26 May, 2015

Police Commissioner Gari Baki has sounded his strict zero tolerance on police brutality and extra-judicial killings, warning police personnel not to step out of line.             He said corrupt, abusive and lazy policemen had no place in the constabulary. “If I have to sack half of the current numbers within the constabulary for corruption and or abusive behavior, then so be it,” Mr Baki said yesterday, adding that as an outsider for the past five years he had come to realize that the public fear of the police force was “very real”.

“Alleged police corruptions, abuses and cases of brutality would be swiftly addressed,” Mr Baki said. He added that policemen and women would been charged forthwith, and they would have to provide statements, witnesses and evidence clearing them of any misconduct, abuse or corruption charges. “I will now be placing the burden of proof on members of the constabulary in cases where they have been accused of being corrupt, abusive or simply failed to take necessary and appropriate action.”

Mr Baki said discipline, command and control, which were his priorities for providing leadership, must be maintained in order for the constabulary to perform to the expectations of stakeholders. “Absence of discipline and command and control will see poor to nil delivery of policing services to the public. “Policemen and women are doing as they please with no regard for the due processes and the law. “I will ensure the constabulary’s disciplinary processes are strengthened and strictly observed by all.”

Marat queries lack of probe into serious crime

The National 27 May, 2015

Rabaul MP Dr Allan Marat yesterday questioned the Government about the lack of investigations by police into serious crime cases. “There is a very dangerous trend developing in our country today where major crimes are committed, taken to court and are dismissed because police investigators do not carry out their job. “What step is your government taking to address this problem?” he asked Attorney-General Ano Pala. Marat said he was referring to willful murder and rape cases that were thrown out by a committal court due to lack of police investigations.

Doctors short

Post Courier, 25 May, 2015

MORE than three million Papua New Guineans do not have access to a doctor, but the figure is estimated to be higher. President of PNG Society for Rural and Remote Health (PNGRRH) Dr David Mills said only 39 of the 88 districts surveyed have a doctor, but added that not all districts that stated they have a doctor have one based in the districts. “Some of the districts get marked “doctor present’’ when really they are only in the capital, example Vanimo- Green River gets marked as yes. “Then there are those where there are doctors at the mines but who are not really out and about in the community, for example, Lihir in Namatanai and Hidden Valley in Bulolo.’’

The implications of these statistics are many and include PNG continuing to have high maternal and child mortality rates and a large number of people dying from preventable diseases such as pneumonia, tuberculosis and malaria. Lifestyle diseases, once a largely urban-based problem, is gradually becoming a problem in rural areas as well, he said.

A number of churches providing health services in rural areas face many challenges, including lack of doctors to serve in their respective facilities. A large number of missionary doctors had left since Independence and were never replaced, resulting in the closure of some facilities. St Barnabas Hospital at Dogura in Milne Bay Province is a classic example. It now operates as a health centre, but it was a busy hospital pre-independence days and was renowned for its service for people .

Report prompts doctors debate

Post Courier 26 May, 2015

News media reports on the critical shortage of doctors in rural areas, and the plans for Divine Word University to set up a rural doctors program starting next year have drawn mixed reactions from the medical fraternity.

One of the common arguments was the need for infrastructure such as roads to be built before doctors could go to serve in rural areas. A senior doctor, for example, said doctors could not be expected to work in the rural areas where infrastructure had decayed due to negligence over the years. He said unless these were improved, there was running water, electricity and workable equipment and there were drugs, doctors could not go out and work in rural areas.

However, doctors were not the only ones who struggled in the bush because of lack of facilities, housing, equipment, and basic services like water, says PNG Society for Rural and Remote Health president Dr David Mills. Dr Mills, who is the medical superintendent of Kompian Hospital in Enga Province, said while doctors wanted things to be done for them first before they go out, there were nurses, community health workers and teachers who were working in the rural areas often went without these basic comforts so they could make a difference for their people. He said when he went to Kompiam in 2000, they had to work by a kerosene lantern at night, had no x-ray laboratory, almost nothing in theater and there was only one staff house. “It was very, very basic. There was no school for my kids. My wife had to do it all by correspondence,” he said. He said doctors had traditionally carried a lot more influence and power and could use their positions to build up the services and lobby for change and resources. Furthermore, he said, there were also hospitals in rural areas with good facilities but did not have doctors to work there.

 

Highly paid medics shun rural postings

Post Courier 29 May, 2015

Doctors are among the most highly paid public servants earning between K80,000 and K295,000 a year, it has been revealed. The better pay in better equipped urban hospitals had been highlighted as reasons why doctors could not go and work in rural hospitals. A doctor querying the notion of training of more doctors to help address the scarcity of doctors in rural areas said this would be a problem as the doctors were the most highly paid public servants and the Government was unable to pay up their entitlements. He also wanted to know who would be paying the new doctors who would be graduating from the new rural doctors program that the Divine Word University in Madang was starting next year. He queried who would be paying salaries and entitlements of the newly graduates because the hospitals are currently struggling to employ doctors. “There must be means and ways where we can efficiently utilize what we have to maximize benefits and results.”

Education sector fares better than health: Prof

The National, 27 May, 2015

The education sector is faring better than health sector because of the funding mechanisms in place and good management, according to a report. The National Research Institute report covers the period between 2001 and 2012. Professor Steven Howes, director of the Development Policy Centre at the Australian National University, revealed that during the Henry Kila Memoral address as par t of the Australia-Papua New Guinea business forum. He said the average school had more and better classrooms, teachers’ quarters, text books, clean drinking water, electricity plus improvement in the ration of female students and teachers to male students and teachers. “There were some 89 per cent more children enrolled in the average PNG primary school in 2012 compared to 2001, in part because of free education,” Howes said.             “The number of teachers grew further through the decade, the number of ghost teachers who were claiming pay but not actually working, fell dramatically.“But not everything was positive in education. There was a lot of overcrowding in classrooms because of increased in enrollments, absenteeism went up and maintenance was a problem.”

In the health sector, the norm was the unavailability of drugs, many clinics not performing basic functions and only one-third conducted patrols.

Tribe hands over suspect

The National, 27 May, 2015

Members of a tribe in the Southern Highlands have handed over to police a man who allegedly killed his wife last Sunday. The tribesmen are from the Karinz local level government in Mendi-Munihu District. After the incident, the man fled to the Lai Valley Local Level Government and later headed to the border of Enga and Southern Highlands . His tribesman apprehended him at Injua village near Kandep. They handed him to police on Monday. “The tribesmen did not wait for the police to make the arrest. Embiap has done an excellent job by organizing youths and pursuing the suspect all the way to Enga,” he said. “The people of Karinz LLG have set a good example by making a citizens arrest and other leaders in their respective communities must do the same to support police.”

Disabled left out in city footbridge designs

Post Courier 27 May, 2015

The two new overhead foot brides, at Hohola and Koki iPort Moresby, should have ramps for use by the disabled, says a group of people living with disabilities (PLWDs). The group, made up mostly of amputees and those on wheelchairs, said fair consideration should be given to them and laws must be in place for future public facilities to be user-friendly for PLWDs. “Accessibility of basic services and infrastructure development still remains a concern for people with disabilities,” they said in statement. “The transport system, most schools, tall buildings, private or government agencies must create a conducive environment for people with disabilities,” they said. They suggested that the review policy on disability that was before Parliament, the Government and service provider strategy must go beyond a focus on inclusive education and explicitly identify actions across the breadth of human rights areas prioritized by children with disabilities.

Children with disabilities still facing challenges

Post Courier 26 May, 2015

More than 408,000 Papua New Guinean children with disability under 15 years experience significant disadvantage, a researcher has revealed.           According to the World Report on Disability, these children were less likely to start school than children without disability, had lower rates of retention and advancement in school, were less likely to gain employment, earned less when they were employed, were likely to live in households experiencing greater poverty and material hardship and had inadequate access to health care.

In a training session held yesterday on inclusive research for children with disability, Dr Kevin Murfitt, who is a vision impaired from Deakin University, said the precise number of children with disability in PNG had not been established but, using the World Bank and the World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates of 15 per cent of world population of disability, there were estimated to be more than 408,000 children with disability under 15 years. “These conditions mean that children with disability are frequently denied their human rights mandated in the Convention on the Rights of persons with Disabilities (CRPD),” he said.

Freida Mine Update

PNG Blogs 27 May

By the close of Business today –May 27th 2015 Guandong Rising Asset Management [ GRAM] of China will have taken over 86 % controlling interest over the small Australian Mining Company Pan Aust Ltd which does not have the Financial resources to  fully develop the Frieda River Deposit in the West Sepik Province.

So, Now What does the Future hold for PNG and the Frieda Project in view of the Chinese take over of Pan Aust Ltd ?  See reference to PNG Blogs above.

Porgera’s new joint owner has a terrible record in China

https://ramumine.wordpress.com/2015/05/28/porgeras-new-joint-owner-has-a-terrible-record-in-china/

Chinese Zijin Mining has bought a 49.5% stake in Barrick Gold’s already troubled Porgera mine. The new owner has a terrible environmental and human rights record in China… See url above.

LOs call on PM to stop marine park

Post Courier 27 May, 2015

About 2000 landowners have signed a petition presented to Parliament yesterday calling on Prime Minister Peter O’Neill to stop the PMIZ project until proper consultations with all stakeholders.

Sumkar MP Ken Fairwather read out the petition calling on Prime Minister O’Neill and Madang Governor Jim Kas to stop the PMIZ project in Madang. The petitioners also called on the Madang Provincial Government to immediately use its administrative powers to stop all survey, construction and any other work associated with the PMIZ development at Vidar. They also called on the Ombudsman Commission to conduct a full investigation into the expenditure of K30 million (budget approved) and any other funds by the National Government or its agencies on the PMIZ development so far. Mr Fairweather told Parliament that the local community leaders, representatives of people of the Bel Villages and Madang people during a meeting at Riwo Village on May 4 unanimously agreed to call on the Government to close the PMIZ.

Woman accused of sorcery reportedly hacked to death

The Guardian 27 May 2015 http://www.theguardian.com/world/papua-new-guinea

A woman accused of sorcery for the second time has been hacked to death just months after she was saved from “death row” in a remote village in the Hewa region of Papua New Guinea. The woman, known as Mifila, was killed last week, allegedly “chopped” to death by a number of attackers from another village a week’s trek away through the highlands jungle. …

Last month four people in the village of Kaiwe, near Mount Hagen, were accused of sorcery and allegedly tortured by other villagers. Two women were allegedly taken by drunken youths and tortured until they gave up the names of two men. The four were accused of witchcraft and tortured, before family and police intervened. One woman went back to her home community, but fears remained for the other three, particular the young woman.

Two chopped to death

The National 26 May, 2015

Two women were chopped to death in a sorcery-related killing in Gembogl, Chimbu, last Thursday, police say. Acting provincial police commander Chief Superintendent Albert Beli confirmed that they were looking for a Grade 10 student at Mt Wilhelm Secondary School to be questioned over the killings. The body of the first woman was thrown into her home at Irugl village near the Denglagu Catholic Mission before it was set on fire. The second woman was taken to Kundiawa Hospital but was pronounced dead on arrival. Beli said the student’s father passed away recently after a short illness.           He said the son accused the two women of practicing sorcery. Police forensic unit officers are investigating the killings. Beli is appealing to the student to turn himself in to police.

Opposition leader Don Polye recently condemned sorcery-related killings as primitive. At least six people, including two children, were killed in Madang after a group of 500 men went on a sorcery hunt in the province early this year.

PNG man gets 50 years for burning wife to death

Papua New Guinea Today 24 May, 2015

A Papua New Guinean man who poured petrol on his wife and set her alight has been jailed for 50 years. The decision was handed down by the National Court Justice Iova Geita in Wewak, East Sepik, Papua New Guinea. Justice Iova Geita jailed 40-year-old Genesis Simba of Nuigo in Wewak for killing his wife after a domestic argument at their home. The incident happened between 9pm and 10pm on Tuesday, December 16, 2008. The wife suffered 80 per cent burns to her body resulting in her death a day later at the Wewak General Hospital. Geita handed down the sentence in a packed courtroom last Thursday. Geita said domestic violence appeared to be on the increase despite new laws such as the Family Protection Act 2013 coming into play.

Govt helps settlement church

Post Courier 15 May, 2015

The All Saints Catholic Church at the once notorious Bumbu settlement in Lae received K80,000 for its social development programs. Morobe Governor Kelly Naru presented a cheque for the amount to parish priest Father Greg Domilies at the Tutumang yesterday. The money will be used to assist the church run its education, health and other social programs it runs. Mr Naru said K50,000.00 will go to the church run health clinic in Bumbu which assists the Butibam Health Centre in providing health care to the parishioners and also helps the health centre’s TB programs.   K10,000.00 each will go to the pre-school or kindergarten, elementary school and the church proper. Mr Naru said the funding stems from a visit he made to the church late last year and he was impressed with the church’s social programs in helping the government to tackle law and order issues in the settlement. “We are pleased with your commitment and you are working in difficult zone but your results are really impressive and of course you have the holy spirit protecting you and the results are there for all to see,” Mr Naru said.            He said the good work is paying off in the reduction of law and order problems. The children in the area do not have far to walk as their schools are within the area.

PM tells Widodo: We will support West Papua

The National 12 May, 2015

Papua New Guinea will work with Indonesia to “improve the lives and well-being of the Melanesian people in the Papuan provinces,” Prime Minister O’Neill says. He told visiting Indonesian President Joko Widodo at a dinner in Port Moresby last night that there were “contesting views” on the Papuan issue. “We appreciate that there is a great deal of passion and emotion in these discussions,” he said. “But it is a matter for which everyone deep down wants the same outcome – there to be peace, calm and understanding between PNG and the Papuan provinces.” PM O’Neil said, “We want to welcome to welcome our Melanesian brothers and sisters from Papua and West Papua into the Melanesian Spearhead Group, and we have to do this responsibly. He thanked Widodo for “understanding PNG’s approach to the issue.”

Health indicators improving

The National 11 May, 2015

An increase in the capacity of local health workers to manage and deliver primary health services through training and education is gradually improving health indicators in New Ireland Province, says chairman for health and Murat LLG president Herman Sole. Poliamba is now an excellent facility, with experienced staff and is becoming very self-sufficient, he said. Sister Eddie and her staff are running an excellent health centre at Kabanut, Sr Rulyn at Lambom with good clinical skills and Sr Cathy Bulu at Lamassa, are a few to name who are proactive in providing quality health care in their areas. These, among others, were achievements highlighted in recent integrated health patrol reports by the Australian Doctors International (ADI) to the very remote health centres and aid posts in the East Central New Ireland and Konoagil, in the Namatanai District. Despite the lack of efficient medical supplies – triggered by the continuously deteriorating state of public sector service delivery by the National Government – rural health workers in New Ireland are demonstrating commitment in improving the situation within their respective local communities.

Miner helps to address violence

The National 05 May, 2015

Gold mining company, Barrick (Niugini) Ltd is contributing to address family and sexual violence by training male advocates against violence in Porgera, Enga. The company initiated Restoration Justice Initiative Association (RJIA), partnering the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and PNG/Australia Law and Justice Partnership (PALJP) to run the workshop. The two-day training last month was the first of three sessions that would have some participants undergoing further training to become male advocate trainers, capable of rolling out training and awareness to the wider community in Porgera. More than 35 people, including police, village courts officials, RJIA civil society group, council of churches, non-governmental organizations and several Barrick employees were trained by PALIP/RJIA FSV adviser Laitia Tomata, FSV experts Tevita SEUILUMI, Isi Oru, Inspector David Kila and RJIA chairman John ToGuata. Chief executive officer of RJIA Julian Whayman said the association’s partnership was a good example of how development sectors – public and private entities and the community – could come together and contribute for better development outcomes.

Woman, daughter killed in raid

Post Courier 04 May, 2015

A 15-year old girl with disability and her mother are dead following a dawn raid by neighbouring villagers in Madang last Thursday. The death toll stands at three with one seriously injured and recovering at the Modilon General Hospital. The disabled teenager had been raped in a similar attack last month.

Killing of disable girl condemned

The National 05 May, 2015

A group of people living with disable persons in Madang has condemned the murder of an innocent and defenceless eight-year-old girl colleague last week.            Sumgilbar women’s leader Ruth Arek, who worked with the group, said it was a sad story that a weak and defenceless member of the group was killed. “The girl was totally innocent and very helpless and defenceless,” she said. “I appeal to police to use all the power and strength it has to arrest the man who killed the sick girl so that her death can be justified,” Arek said. Madang police have yet to arrest suspects involved in the girl’s murder. She was killed along with her mother during an ethnic clash between two villages in Amele area outside Madang.

PM: 129 refugees offered residency

The National, 15th of May, 2015

THE Government is offering 129 asylum seekers on Manus “the opportunity to live in the country”, according to Prime Minister Peter O’Neill. He told the Lowy Institute for International Policy in Sydney yesterday that more than 400 asylum seekers “have voluntarily left PNG”. To date, 129 applicants have been deemed to be genuine refugees and are being offered the opportunity to live in PNG. “Our Government has the job of explaining that to our people and the genuine refugees will be welcomed by our people in their respective communities,” O’Neill said. “We are currently undertaking extensive public awareness and stakeholder engagement in areas where refugees will be resettled.”

80 houses in city settlement demolished

The National 04 May, 2015

More than 80 houses along 2-Mile were demolished last Thursday to make way for a reoad before the Pacific Games in July. Francis Tokai, one of the community leaders of the 2-Mile settlement area said they were not sure where to go or what to do. “What about our right?” he asked. “We have been living here since the early ‘60s when our parents first settled here. “We ourselves grew up here, had our children here, now our children are all married too and we have grandchildren.” Tokai said the Government gave eviction notices and said that they would be relocated but they were still waiting to be relocated when their houses were demolished last Thursday. However, NCD Governor Powes Parkop said that the relocation plan that was pursued by the local MP was delayed when settlers took the matter to court after receiving the eviction notices. “This project will not be ready for the Games as a result of all the complex problems,” he said. “NCDC (National Capital District Commission) had no option except to move the settlements by force as no one listened to the notices. Parkop said there would be no compensation for the illegal settlers but he would work with the Moresby South MP Justin Tkatchenko to relocate the people to either 6-Mile or Gerehu.

PM warns: Run drugs at your own risk

Post Courier, 4 May, 2015

Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has warned Papua New Guineans who may be tempted to get into drug trafficking to think twice because their lives could be at stake. Speaking yesterday on the aftermath of the Bali Nine drug gang executions and fears by PNG families that their relatives in jails in Jayapura may also face the death penalty. Mr O’Neill said he a simple message for these people. “Anyone considering transporting illegal drugs must be prepared for the consequences, and these consequences are serious,” he said. The Prime Minister admitted that there were Papua New Guineans facing drug charges in Indonesia – some failed in Australia for drugs and others in the Philippines while others were being questioned in other parts of the world. Currently there were two PNG men facing drug charges in Sentani and had been jailed in Doyo while others, believed to be numbering 15, would be facing the law because of this. He said PNG would be providing consular support to those who had been arrested and would continue to monitor the situation. More and more people carrying larger quantities of marijuana have been caught at land and sea checkpoints in recent months at the common border between PNG and Indonesia. Mr O’Neill said the Government was working through law enforcement agencies and with community organisations, including churches, to deal with these issues.

Sex crimes ignored in settlements

Post Courier 04 May, 2015

There has been a staggering increase in the number of sexual abuse cases reported in urban settlements and villages in Morobe Province this year. Angau family support centre executive Dr Lincoln Menda revealed this while speaking to the Kamkumung community in Lae over the weekend.

It was previously seen that much of the sexual abuse cases were committed outside of the family circle but much of the sexual abuse happening these days, occur in people’s own houses and the perpetrators are often blood-related relatives,” Dr Menda said. He said many of the victims are children and their cases are often ignored because they are viewed by families as unimportant to the older perpetrator. According to Dr Menda the centre deals with an estimated deals with an estimated 20 to 30 patients every day, and many of them are seen to be women and children, who reside in the urban settlements and villages in Lae. “The number has increased to about 50 per cent in the first quarter of this year compared to the previous years and it continues to increase every single day. “Sexual abuse in the family shouldn’t be ignored because it is a criminal act and it is treated similarly to the ones that occur outside the family circle,” he added.

Firm Gives Tent, Food Items To Homeless Children

The National, 5th May, 2015

Two tents and some food and clothing were donated to Life PNG Care by Industrial Sales and Service in Port Moresby to house homeless children. They were received by Life PNG Care national director Collin Pake. “With the tents, we will be able to cater for 70-80 homeless street kids, this will bring short-term solution in line with the National Capital District Commission’s plan of trying to get the homeless kids off the street in preparation for the Pacific Games and other international events,” Pake said. He said giving hope to one child was better than doing nothing. “So our aim is to at least send someone to school and create a family environment.“Give them a home and let them live in a family environment, be part of the family and grow up so that they can become a good parent. Without a family, we will not have a strong community and without that we will not have a good nation. Family is the fabric of our society, when the family falls apart that is when we see social issues and problems arise. “We can provide short-term accommodation for the homeless kids but they have to go back into the streets after the Games.”

Businesses chip in for homeless kids

Post Courier 04 May, 2015

One organisation is responding to the National Capital District Commission’s plan to take children off the streets during the July Pacific Games, but this may be a temporary solution. Life PNG Care founder Collin Pake and his wife Freda are willing to shelter 60 to 70 street children in addition to the 22 who live with them in their rented home at Gerehu in Moresby Northwest. They said they could not take in anymore due to limited resources. On Saturday, a business executive came to their aid by donating two tents, bags of clothing and cartons of food valued at K5,000.00. ISAS director for sales and marketing John Stanson was accompanied by like-minded friend to deliver the donation.

Mr. Stanton did not have much to say, thanking the Pakes for their selfless work in helping the unfortunate children. His friends Bill May, from Logistics International Ltd, and Peter White, a former policeman, works with the Australian High Commission, hut is also the director/secretary of the Royal PNG Constabulary Legacy Inc that fundraises and puts to school orphans of policemen and women.

The three men said they hoped that the Government would see this and do something to help the street children. “We hope the government sees what we are doing and come on board and support,” said Mr May. According to Mr Pake, there are about 5,000 children living off the streets in Port Moresby.About 60 to 70 of them come at nights to sleep at LPC home and will be using the two tents that are donated by Mr Stanson. Mr Pake also confirmed the recent Post Courier report that the NCDC had plans to remove kids off the streets in the lead up to the Pacific Games and had called a meeting with a few service providers to find out how they can work together in the program. However, LPC and the City Mission have both reported that they could not stretch their limited resources to take any more kids.

Opportunity to return to death penalty debate

Post Courier 01 May, 2015

The execution yesterday of the Bali Nine – Australians Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran as well as six others in Indonesia – has again turned the international spotlight on the death penalty.

The reaction from Australia yesterday to their execution has been instantaneous with Canberra recalling its ambassador to Indonesia for consultation and international condemnation continuing as the immediate families of those executed come to terms with their loss. The Papua New Guinea Government has been watching the developments on the other side of the border with interest with Prime Minister Peter O’Neill indicating last month that his Government could review its policy on capital punishment, which it introduced in 2013 in response to public outcry over deadly violence targeting women as well as increasing corruption. There are currently 13 Papua New Guineans who are on death row, pending behind-the-scenes work by the Department of Attorney General & Justice to put in place an appropriate method of state-sanctioned executions. …The focus on the execution of the Bali Nine opens up a window of opportunity for the PNG Government to reengage with Papua New Guineans to discuss a way forward

Solomon Islands police wary of Bougainville gun running: commissioner

Solomon Star May 07,2015, Story courtesy of ABC Radio Australia

Police in Solomon Islands are investigating the source of a gun that was recently found in the capital, Honiara, in the possession of a group of men from Bougainville. It’s alleged the home-made weapon was brandished by the men after the car they were travelling in was involved in an accident. While the origin of the gun is not yet clear, the issue of firearms being smuggled across the PNG border from Bougainville to Solomon Islands is an ongoing one. Solomon Islands police commissioner Frank Prendergast says his officers are becoming more active in the border region.

Push to fight against violence on children

21 May 2015 http://www.solomonstarnews.com/news/national/7049-push-to-fight-against-violence-on-children

The visiting Special Representative of the UN Secretary General (SRSG), Marta Santos Pais along with the Solomon Islands Government are pushing to fight against violence against children.The visit into the country supplemented this effort, urging the government on a five year programme on eliminating violence against children.

“It is key for the protection of children from violence that the Child and Family Welfare Bill is enacted and implemented, and the Family Protection Act effectively enforced,” said Ms. Santos Pais. She added, this is important in preventing and ending violence against children and strengthening government services, especially the social welfare department services to secure child protection.

Student Boycotts Are Reasonable Responses To Decades Long Government Coverups On How Bad PNG School have Become

See at http://www.pngblogs.com/2015/05/student-boycotts-are-reasonable.html7 May

PNG development is ‘nomadic’

Post Courier, May 12,2015, 06:00 pm

Successive governments have approached national infrastructure development programs “like nomads” where there was no sustainability and maintenance of what was built, Prime Minister Peter O’Neill said in Madang at the weekend. “We have been behaving like nomads in the last 40 years, where we kept building new infrastructure that we failed to maintain,” Mr O’Neill said. “We cannot go on like this,” he said. Mr O’Neill was speaking at the opening of several infrastructure projects at the Divine Word University campus last Saturday. He said the country cannot continue to operate in the nomadic mode and his government was ensuring that run-down infrastructure is being upgraded and new ones being built are of high quality that would last.

Free Education Sees More Girls In School

Post- Courier 07th May 2015

More girls are now attending schools throughout the country since the introduction of free education, National Planning Minister Charles Abel said yesterday. Minister Abel shared this as a PNG experience at the opening of the first APEC High Level Policy Dialogue in Port Moresby. “In the area of education we decided that the Government had to get all children into school so they can prepare for brighter futures. As such we delivered a policy of fee free education and now the National Government pays all fees. This policy has nearly doubled the number of children in school to almost 2 million. Importantly girls in our families are benefitting from the free education policy. Because, before we had fee free education, often it was the girls of poorer families that missed out on school because of cost. Now primary and secondary schools are free and children have the opportunity, indeed they exercise their right to attend school,” Minister Abel said. He said the implementation of this fee free education also has its own challenges. “Nearly doubling the number of school students in the space of a few years has placed pressure on student-teacher ratios. But this was a choice that we made so that we would increase opportunity through education sooner rather than later. We are working to overcome these challenges with an increase in teacher education places in our universities and colleges, and we are building new schools and classrooms,” Minister Abel added.

PNG’s settlements – beer, loud music, drugs & gambling

Source: http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2015/05/beer-loud-music-drugs-gambling-pngs-modern-day-settlements.html#more

IT’S another Friday evening and a short distance away from our house a bass speaker can be heard pumping music at force into the airwaves.

The screams of drunken ecstasy and sound of beer bottles smashing on the road send shivers along our spine as we sense that trouble is just around the corner…. So on Friday our family knows that the coming weekend will be agonisingly long for us as we have to weather the nuisance that starts early in the morning, peaks in the evening and continues until Sunday….

For full article, see the url above.

 

Our disabled people too often find there’s nothing to live for

By FRANCIS NII 20 May 2015 Source http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2015/05/our-disabled-people-too-often-find-theres-nothing-to-live-for.html

IN Papua New Guinea, people with a disability – people like me – are marginalised and neglected. They experience misery on daily basis. Chauvinism and poverty are the two killers of disabled people in our society, particularly paraplegics and polio victims. Public ridicule and stigmatisation are the worst forms of chauvinism, creating social barriers that deter disabled people from exercising their freedom of movement and participating equally in programs and activities. People make mock them and call them names when they see them in public places. Hence, in fear of being ridiculed and stigmatised, disabled people isolate themselves in the seclusion of the home. …. For full article, see the url above.

Aid to PNG: a long game

By Stuart Schaefer on May 11, 2015   http://devpolicy.org/aid-to-png-a-long-game-20150511/?utm_source=Devpolicy&utm_campaign=25f78bc9df-Devpolicy_News__May_22_2015&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_082b498f84-25f78bc9df-227683090

As the former head of aid in PNG, I was often asked, “why are we still giving $500 million a year in aid to PNG”? To put Australia’s aid to PNG in perspective, the ACT government spends more than the whole PNG aid budget on our public hospitals alone ($900 million in 2012-13). As many Devpolicy readers know, PNG’s population of 7.5 million (around 20 times that of the ACT), is spread over rugged and unforgiving terrain around twice the size of Victoria.

For full article, see url above.

Church helps prisoners

The National, Friday May 22nd, 2015

THE Catholic Church in West Sepik is conducting a spiritual rehabilitation programme for PNG citizens serving time in Doyo prison, Indonesia. Father Valencius from the Waromo parish in West Sepik has been visiting prisoners at Sentani in the Papua province to help in their rehabilitation.

Valencius said the aim was for them to contribute positively to their communities after serving their terms. “We visit to comfort them on behalf of their relatives and to make them feel that PNG still cares for them,” he said. PNG Ambassador to Indonesia Peter Ilau had earlier said there were 15 PNG prisoners serving various sentences including for marijuana smuggling. Two more were detained for smuggling marijuana in Jayapura two months ago. A source in Vanimo, said that Dojo prison was mainly for drug smugglers and political prisoners. “The rehabilitation programme is good.  “The prison officials will identify your skills and will include you in their rehabilitation programmes,” the source said. “You will be invited to pass your skills to other prisoners. You can pass your skills to the surrounding communities.”

Bishops renew call to oppose death penalty

Post Courier 01 May, 2015

The Catholic Church has renewed its opposition to the death penalty in the wake of the execution of the Bali Nine drug gang in Indonesia on Wednesday. Among the church’s opposition to the death penalty, was the likelihood of making a mistake and convicting and executing someone who is innocent. Research had shown that in the United States, 140 people were executed, who later were discovered to be innocent. The Church, through the Catholic Bishops Conference of PNG and the Solomon Islands, noted in a pastoral letter that many countries had abolished the death penalty.The Conference president Bishop Arnold Orowae described capital punishment as an “extreme act of violence performed in the name of the people.” “We, the bishops of Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands, strongly oppose the use of the death penalty,” he added. “It has no place in a Christian country where true justice and mercy should prevail. Where executions are performed by the State, the people develop the attitude that it is acceptable to respond to violence with violence. “We pray that the rejection of this form of public violence will set an example and lead to a rejection of domestic violence and all other forms of violence in our society and open the way to a lasting peace.” Bishop Orowae said Pope Francis had recently pointed out the diference between defending one’s self against an attack and killing someone who had been rendered harmless and is incapable of attacking you. Among the church’s opposition to the death penalty, was the likelihood of making a mistake and convicting and executing someone who did not commit a crime and is innocent.The bishop said research had shown that in the United States, between 1900 and 1985, 140 people were executed, who later were discovered to be innocent. “The death penalty is final. Once someone has been executed his or her life cannot be restored. It can be fair and just to impose a life imprisonment on someone for a very serious crime.”

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Social Concerns Notes – April 2015

Govt Takes First Steps To Address Child Labour

Post-Courier 09 April, 2015

Child labour is a growing problem which the Government wants tackled to protect the future generations. It has taken the first step to address this by announcing plans to set up a child labour unit to respond to queries on child labour issues. Work on the unit is almost complete. Next week, Papua New Guinea will be participating in the first sub-regional forum on combating child labour and trafficking, and will share some of its knowledge and practical experiences on these issues. The other objectives are to develop media guidelines/communication strategies for advocating on child labour and trafficking issues, and to develop a sub-regional strategy for action and country strategies. He said there had been projects initiated by international organisations on this issue but they were only for a certain period of time and they were no more to be heard of, so it was important that the government took up the issue and led it. “Do we want the next generation to come out from a decent upbringing?’’ he asked. “In ILO, we are here to provide the support, but it is important for government to provide the support and sustain the activities of child labour for 2015 and onwards,’’ said Mr Samuel.

He said ILO defines child labour as when a child was engaged in the worst forms of employment. It is also a work that impinges on the rights of proper upbringing of a child. He said there were different categories, but one of the clear examples was when a child who was supposed to be in school was made to assume the responsibilities of parents which affected his or her education and future.

Street Kids Reprieve

Post-Courier 20th April, 2015

Homeless children will be taken off the streets of the national capital in the lead-up to the start of the Pacific Games in Port Moresby and housed in shelters as part of long-term plans to rehabilitate them. This was made known at the launch of the revised Lukautim Pikinini Act at city hall recently. The act paves the way for the Government to work in partnership with service providers dealing with child welfare. NCDC’s urban youth desk will be conducting profiles of all the street kids and those who are found to have no parents will be taken off the streets and referred to the service providers, which are mostly non-government organisations, where they will be sheltered and hopefully engaged in some form of activity to keep them busy and off the streets. Those with parents will be taken back to their parents. It is believed that if the program is successful it could be replicated in other towns and cities of PNG experiencing similar challenges. NCD has the country’s largest number of homeless, poverty-stricken street children, who beg for cash at the city’s numerous traffic lights, collect used aluminum cans for recycling or sell cheap Asian-made products in front of shops and offices. It is also known that among these kids are also those who have parents but for various reasons are living off the streets. At the end of the day, these kids return home and return the next day to continue their daily chores on the streets. Experience from around the world show municipal authorities in the host cities of international sporting events building extra shelter to cater for the homeless. It is not known if the program funded by the NCDC will also cater for homeless adults, who are also increasing in numbers. A 2011 International Labour Organisation report on commercial sexual exploitation of children and children working on the streets in Port Moresby identified children who were doing “hazardous work” that included chopping firewood for sale, moving furniture, loading and unloading boxes heavier than their little bodies could carry.

[What will happen to these children after the games? Maybe the government can provide some with a ticket to watch the games they are being hidden from? Ed]

Pilot project brings positive changes

Post-Courier 21st April, 2015

A UNDP trial project that intends to support the government’s development goals in rural PNG is progressing well in terms of improving living standards of local people. More than 1200 villagers of Musendai village in Dreikikir district, East Sepik Province, are seeing positive changes in the areas of income generation, health and education since the inception of the pilot project in 2012. The trial project, which has three year duration, was established by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) with K480, 000 funding assistance from the European Union and has been used to initiate a number of basic capacity buildings for the people there. According to the ward councilor Joel Cornelius, the pilot project has brought more improvement to the lives of local people in terms of improved education, improved health services and facilitating seizure of income generating opportunities.

Bougainville Referendum preparations underway

Post Courier, March 29, 2015

Between 2015 and 2020, the Autonomous Region of Bougainville is expected to conduct a referendum on the future political status of Bougainville as set out in the Bougainville Peace Agreement (BPA).

In preparation for implementing this final pillar of the road map for peace, the Joint Supervisory Body (JSB) meeting on March 13 had endorsed the work streams that would be undertaken in the next few months by both the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) and the National Government.

The work streams endorsed include;

  • Developing a framework of procedures for active participation and consultation with all stakeholders in Bougainville, Papua New Guinea and the two governments,
  • Weapons disposal assessment,
  • Develop for the two governments criteria allowing non-resident Bougainvilleans to vote
  • Good governance assessment
  • Establishing a process for determining the question(s) to be put to the people,
  • Establishing the independent Administrative Agency and Financing the Referendum and
  • Review of the provisions for the conduct of the referendum.

At the recent JSB meeting in Arawa, Central Bougainville, President of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville John Momis urged the Referendum Committee comprising officials of both Governments to meet regularly and move fast to progress referendum preparations.

He said this would allow for important decisions on the date for the referendum, the charter for the conduct of referendum and other necessary milestones regarding the preparations for the conduct of the referendum to be made by the two governments through the respective Bi-Partisan Committee.

Work in progress to set up human rights body

The National, Monday March 30th, 2015

A HUMAN Rights Commission will be established in the country. A project management unit led by Francis Tavatuna is working to implement Government’s decision to set up a commission. It is working on the database to register human rights abuse cases. Tavatuna, in a statement, said the purpose of the unit was to implement the Government’s decision for the setting up and structure of the Human Rights Commission and the Bill on the Organic Law on human rights, plus the amendments to the Constitution. The final reading of the Bill is expected in Parliament in May. “We will start registering cases and look at their merits next month once the database and mechanism are in place,” Tavatuna said. He said they were yet to discuss with the Department of Personal Management where its office would be located – with the Ministry of Justice and Attorney-General or Ministry of Community Development. Cabinet has allocated K10.9 million to operate the Human Rights Commission office.

800,000 people in country are disabled, Kapi says

The National, Monday March 30th, 2015

ABOUT 10 per cent or 800,000 of Papua New Guinea’s seven million people have disability, the chairman of the PNG Rehabilitation Centre Brown Kapi says. That means they have to seek extra services so they can make their life as people with disability as normal as possible, he said.

Speaking on National Disability Day yesterday in Port Moresby, Kapi revealed the figures and said: “The Government has to look at how the disabled people will have proper access to basic education, health, the transport system and legal services. Accessibility to basic government service is our concern, but how can our voice be heard?”

It was not about celebrating the day, Kapi said, but looking beyond the disabilities to potential and to become useful and contribute meaningfully towards  development. Under the theme “change begins within a person”, Kapi urged those with disability that they still had the potential to do better.

More than 100 disabled from three Port Moresby electorates – South, North-West and North-East – observed the day at the centre. Kapi said although having the disability policy in place, there was no proper legislation or Act that would empower the people to express themselves easily for normal human activities.

80 per cent of population do not bank

The National, Monday March 30th, 2015

EIGHTY per cent of the population in Papua New Guinea does not have access to financial services, an official says. The figure translates to about five million citizens without the services, with social and economic conditions influencing the exclusion.

Those observations were made by PNG Women in Business chief executive officer Tushari Hewapathiram and Bank of Papua New Guinea Deputy Governor Ben Popoitai during the launch of the Lae branch of Women’s Micro Bank last Friday.

“There are five million people without a bank account in PNG, we need partners like Women’s Micro Bank to help us reach out and bank the five million people in the next 10 to 20 years. We want the whole of PNG to be banking,” Popotai said.

“The majority of the population is out of the formal financial sector, with the statistics claimed that 86 per cent of the population does not have access to financial services,” Hewapathiram said.

“Women account higher percentage of the financial exclusion and the majority of them are financially disempowered,” she said. “Rural women, for example, are disadvantaged on multiple levels as they are often physically far from financial institutions and services, have lower levels of education and lower levels of income.”

The road that became a bridge – but what now for the settlements?

30 March 2015 http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2015/03/the-road-that-became-a-bridge-but-what-now-for-the-settlements.html#more

THE Erima flyover bridge is the first truly remarkable example of public infrastructure built in Papua New Guinea and the South Pacific. Costing K160 million, its construction represents a noteworthy achievement for the government and people of PNG. Prior to the construction of the bridge, the Erima shopping centre was linked to the Erima Settlements located near Waigani Golf Course by a couple of tracks that ran through the old Hugo sawmill. Over time these tracks developed into roads and then into a new freeway to be connected to the bridge from the Waigani Arts Centre.

Building a flyover bridge was an expensive way to address traffic congestion in this part of Port Moresby and there is still uncertainty over its use. There is a feeling that the flyover bridge was built just to cater for VIPs during the hosting of international events like the 2018 APEC Summit.

Some people are even more skeptical, suggesting that the bridge is merely an attempt by government to blindfold foreign dignitaries to the filthy and disorganised state of Erima. Whatever, one thing is for sure and that is that the flyover bridge will bring the Erima settlements into full view.

This could spell trouble for the settlers if the government is determined to present a more progressive illusion of Port Moresby to foreign dignitaries. Settlers living near the bridge are also anxious that it will increase the likelihood of attracting development that may jeopardise their wellbeing. Already there are rumours that remnants of the Waigani Arts Centre settlement will be evicted. The scenic views and proximity to Central Waigani and the airport could turn this part of Port Moresby into a most sought-after address. Plans are already in pipeline to turn the old Hugo sawmill into a “city within a city” development. Equipped with all the amenities suitable for the middle to top income earners it is expected to change Erima into a top class suburb.

The flyover bridge at Erima will forever be remembered as the road that became a bridge. There are

those who call Erima home who are sensing that change is coming that will alter their lives forever.

For them it is important that the government clearly informs them about Erima’s future. In the absence of information settlers live in uncertainty and anxiety. For these people it is time to brace themselves for what could be a most challenging and life-altering event.

Thousands take part in annual pilgrimage

Post Courier, April 07, 2015

More than 5000 faithful of the Catholic Church and other Christian denominations came together to walk the path that Christ took on the way to his crucifixion. Thousands flock to the first station at Murray Barracks, while others waited at their respective stations enroute to St Johns parish at Tokarara, where a mass honouring the cross was celebrated with Archbishop John Ribat being the main celebrant. The seven hour walk had people from all walks of life, health conditions, age and race walk together as one in the steps of the man who brought them all together. Noticed in the crowd were pregnant mothers, very young children, elderly and very light skinned people turning red in the hot sun. There was a young albino lady who was caught sacrificing her comfort, all out of love. The streets of Port Moresby came to a stand still as the big white cross was carried through, as thousands followed in prayer. Those who took part had their own reasons. Robert from St Joseph said Jesus at his time endured more gruelling pain than what we are all experiencing now. “We are commemorating the walk of humility and the pain he bore to Calvary were he died,” Robert said. The young albino teenager, Anne from St Michaels, said her sacrifice to literally turn red in the sun was a way to remember that Christ went through a lot to die on the cross for her sins.

Schoolgirl lodges porn complaint

The National, Tuesday April 7th, 2015

A SCHOOLgirl has lodged a complaint with police against fellow students who have been circulating a pornographic image on their mobile phones, claiming it was her in it. The complaint was lodged on March 23 at the Badili police station in Port Moresby. The police station commander was not available for comment. But a police officer at the station familiar with the case said the girl had accused her fellow students of circulating the photo of a naked woman on their mobile phones. “The accusers were circulating the photo accusing and taunting the victim of being the one in the photo,” the officer said.

The officer said the girl who came from a strong Christian family was humiliated and reported the matter to her parents. “The parents then reported the matter to us,” he said. He said they had referred the matter to the school to sort out. “We have referred the matter to the school to conduct their own investigation and solve this matter at their level,” the officer said. “But if the board cannot solve the matter, we will conduct a thorough investigation and lay criminal charges.” He said police planned “to round up all the (students) accusers and confiscate their mobile phones to determine (who was circulating) the picture”.

Operation ‘Weedim Grass’ strong

Post Courier, April 28, 2015

MARIJUANA plants that estimated at street value of K50, 000 has been uprooted thanks to Simbu Drug Squad’s “Weedim Grass” operation. Commander detective Yatefa Welis disclosed “weedim grass” operation is in its third year and the outcome of the operation were impressive. More than 300 people were convicted and more than 500 cylinder bottles were destroyed including uprooting of more than 115 thousand marijuana trees in less than two years of operation. “Drug squad here in Simbu are doing all its best trying to weed out marijuana cultivations. Highlands region is known to grow some of the finest marijuana plants therefore we are using every resources available to track down people growing these plants and weed out everything grown,” he said. Last week, among other duties of the operation, Welis said in one of the hill tops in a village between Korofeigu and Kintinu along the Okuk highway in the Eastern Highlands Province, a total of 453 marijuana plants were uprooted. “That’s around street value of K50, 000 plus,” Welis said. In other places where “weedim grass” operation has touched with confiscation of illegal items such as cylinder bottles (etc) and uprooting of marijuana plants includes Watabum, Asaro, Daulo, and Upper Bena.

Canada mining firm compensates Papua New Guinea women after alleged rapes

The National, Tuesday, April 7, 2015

A Canada-based gold mining company is paying compensation to a group of tribal women and girls who allege they were assaulted and raped by police and security guards at the company’s mine in Papua New Guinea. The 11 women, who were aged between 14 and in their 80s when the alleged crimes took place, are among 137 local Enga women and girls who had previously been compensated by Barrick Gold Corporation, after allegations of sexual violence, including gang rape and imprisonment, by armed security guards and police officers at the Porgera mine.

Most of the 137 women accepted the company’s offer of a compensation package under a “remedy framework” set up by Barrick as an alternative to the local judicial system, after a Human Rights Watch report in 2011 identified a pattern of extreme sexual violence by security personnel at the mine.

But 11 of the women initially refused and argued that the compensation – on average 23,630 kina, which amounts to $8,743 – was not adequate to remedy the multiple and continuing traumas they had suffered. One, who was 14 at the time of the alleged rape in 2010, said what happened to her halted her education and ruined her reputation and chance at marriage in her culture. She said she wanted sufficient compensation to start a life for herself and daughter elsewhere.

One of the 11 women represented by ERI, who is now 18, said she and two friends had been asked by mobile police officers to make string bags for them in 2010. But instead of taking them to the ATM machine for payment, the armed officers took them in the police car to their living quarters at the mine site, where they were raped. Mobile police at the mine are not employed by Barrick directly but have a support agreement with the company.

In a statement provided by ERI, the woman said: “The rape has caused me to lose many important things in my life. I used to be a top student in my fifth grade class. I was good at school, and I enjoyed it. I could have really made something of myself if I had been able to stay in school. But after I was raped, everyone knew and my classmates were always talking about me. It was too difficult to deal with, so I dropped out. I tried to go back last year, but the kids said such bad things about me. I was so ashamed that I stopped going.”

She later married, but when her husband found out about the rape, they divorced, leaving her to look after a two-year-old daughter alone.

Solomons MPs get tax free pay

SolomonStar Published: 24 April 2015

MEMBERS of Parliament are now enjoying tax free salaries as of April 1 this year. Parliamentary Entitlements Commission (PEC) awarded the tax free benefits to MPs under recent changes it made to MPs entitlements. That’s beside the tax free $400,000 terminal grant each MP gets after a term in parliament. Under recent awards, MPs’ discretionary fund was also increased from $300,000 a year to $500,000. In addition, basic salaries of MPs have been increased by 3.5% backdated to April 2014 and 4% from this April onwards.

Transparency Solomon Islands (TSI) yesterday described the MP’s tax free salary as “a first in the developing world”. It estimated that the Government will lose about $2.2 million each year from tax on MPs’ salaries. Meanwhile, TSI is calling on the government to remove Members of Parliament (MPs) in the composition of the Parliamentary Entitlement Commission (PEC).

Officer clarifies refugee policy

The National, Thursday April 9th, 2015

CHIEF Migration Officer Mataio Rabura has clarified that there is no refugee policy yet to allow asylum seekers in Manus to settle in the country. Rabura said the policy had been drafted and awaiting clarifications from the Australian government. “After the policy is finalised, it will be submitted to Cabinet to be approved,” he said. “In the meantime, asylum seekers we have approved to come out of the detention centre are now undergoing an orientation programme. This is to get them familiar with PNG society, culture, politics – basically a general knowledge of PNG.” Rabura was responding to an ABC report on Iranian asylum seeker Reza Mollagholipour, a civil engineer, who claims he has not been allowed by immigration officials to get a job in PNG. Rabura said refugees would be assisted with job placements arranged through Immigration after they had successfully undergone the orientation programme. “He (Mollagholipour) still needs an interpreter. Therefore he needs further English language lessons,” Rabura said.

Asylum-seekers heading home from Manus: Peter O’Neill

Post Courier, April 08, 2015, Story courtesy of (PINA) Pacific Island News Association

Asylum-seekers at Manus Island processing centre are choosing to return to their home countries in greater numbers than is being made public, according to Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O’Neill. The unreported flow back to countries of origin comes as Australia’s nearest neighbour claims a growing acceptance among asylum-seekers about the processes adopted by PNG.

“We are quietly sending more people back to their home countries than has been published,” he said during a visit to Melbourne last week. Official figures released by Australia’s Operation Sovereign Borders show eight Iraqis, six Iranians and one Lebanese agreed to return in February.

The number of asylum-­seekers in the Manus centre fell from 1023 at the end of January to 1004 at the end of February, and is likely to have fallen below 1000 last month ­ although the March figures are not available. In February, 298 interim assessments were completed, with 163 asylum-seekers found to be refugees and claims by 135 rejected. Eleven moved into a new transit centre built to house those given positive assessments, at East Lorengau on Manus.

Zurenuoc: World Leaders Will Be Safe

PostCourier 09 April, 2015

Highest level of security will be provided to world leaders attending the 2018 Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders meeting in Port Moresby. The APEC Coordination Authority said this when revealing the proposed venues for the 2018 APEC Summit. Its chairman Sir Manasupe Zurenuoc said these meeting precincts would be able to offer the highest level of security and protection that will ensure the safety of leaders, ministers, delegates and members of the public. The 21 APEC member leaders to attend included presidents and prime ministers of United States, Russia, China, Japan, Indonesia, Australia, Canada, Korea, Chinese Taipei (Taiwan), Thailand, Vietnam, Mexico, Chile, Peru, Brunei, Singapore, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand and New Zealand. He said the focus for APEC activity during leaders’ week would be the soon to be built Hilton Hotel and the Ela Beach/Paga Hill Ring Road. A cruise ship would be moored at the existing mooring facility with requirement to provide energy, water and sanitary services. He said the APEC calendar is a full year of events and meetings with the first senior officials meeting likely take place in January 2018 so as not to conflict with Chinese New year. He said the APEC Leaders’ Meeting was likely to take place over the weekend of November 17-18 in 2018 and being a weekend would minimise disruption to residents and businesses.

Islanders Running Out Of Water

PNGLOOP, 6th April, 2015

Weeks of no rain in Manus is having an effect on islanders who rely heavily on rain catchment for their livelihood. Mbuke islanders on the south cost of Manus have resorted to rationing the little fresh water catchment they have from the village community tanks that is now supplying them. A local on the island, Kiliwi Kilangis, told PNG loop it has been over a month since it last rained on the island and their rain catchments have run out too. “Our gardens will dry out soon too,” he says. Another local, Chalapan Matangiau,  says last week the last of the seven community tanks were being used to supply water to households that have run out of fresh drinking water. For now, the people have resorted to village wells for the washing and laundry while they continue rationing fresh drinking water.

Students empowered to fight corruption

Post Courier, April 20, 2015

STUDENTS from 10 schools in Port Moresby opted to use their holiday to participate in a Media Smart Youth workshop to develop their knowledge in and how to use media to advocate against corruption. The workshop, which is a collaborative effort between Transparency International (PNG) and Youths Against Corruption Association (YACA), is one of the many activities aimed at getting young people to fight against corruption. Emily Taule, the executive director of Transparency (PNG) International, said a lot of their work is done through coalitions with other organisations.

“The Youth Against Corruption is part of that coalition where we aim to build relationships, to maintain those relationships and moreover through YACA to empower the people to take up an active choice against corruption,” Ms Taule said. As part of their program, the student participants were put into groups, where they had to use different mediums of the media to put what they learnt into practice. The groups shared their produced pieces in the likes of a blog, video, photography and a catchy radio jingle.

PNG’s position on the international corruption index continues to be very bad, and paints a bad image of the country.

Theft of dinghies hinder delivery of health services

Post Courier April 23, 2015

SEVEN dinghies belonging to health authorities in Milne Bay Province have been stolen since the beginning of this year, provincial police chief Joseph Morehari said yesterday. Mr Morehari said only one has been recovered, while the other seven may be in the hands of sea pirates who frequent Milne Bay waters. The thefts of Health Department dinghies had alarmed the provincial health authority chief executive officer Billy Naidi, who said yesterday that medical emergency referrals to the provincial hospital in Alotau had been affected. Mr Naidi said that two dinghies bought by the local MP had just been stolen, but he could not confirm if they were being used for sea piracy.

“Stealing of dinghies is a common occurrence from time to time in a year, not necessarily used by criminals,” he said. He said despite the thefts, health authorities were managing to service their mobile clinics. Chief Superintendant Morehari said one East Cape villager, allegedly involved in the theft of the dinghy which had been recovered, had been arrested and locked up.

Four accused of witchcraft in highlands; Locals threaten to burn them to death

Post Courier, April 23, 2015   Story courtesy of ABC Radio Australia

Four people in the highlands region are accused of witchcraft and could be burned to death, local human rights activists say. Those accused are two women and two men from Kaiwe, near Mount Hagen in Western Highlands. The two women were tortured in an attempt to get them to confess and locals threatened to burn them if a witch finder, known as a “glassman”, said they were sorcerers.

Local resident and human rights defender Paul Petrus told Radio Australia’s Pacific Beat program villagers collected tyres in preparation for burning the women. “If the glassman comes and proves that these people are sorcerers, they will burn them to death … with tyres to burn them,” he said.

Kamane Wauga, senior program officer with Oxfam PNG’s sorcery program in Western Highlands, confirmed the women were tortured. “While they were tortured they’ve been interrogated … about whether they are sorcerers and how they performed the sorcery, what were the implements,” he said.

He said the two women were now living with relatives, waiting for the glassman’s verdict.

Maggie Truwai, a Catholic church worker in Mount Hagen, said the accusations of witchcraft began when locals started dying because of disease and the community felt it must be because of black magic. “There were a few deaths, mostly at the beginning of this year … so now the community … say sorcery was one of the causes of these deaths,” she said. Police were called into Kaiwe on Sunday to respond to the situation. “The police are aware of it … and when the torturing was in progress they went in and told them to stop and faced those at the scene,” Mr Petrus said. “The public who were there they told them to go away. “Then they came back and told them to stop their behaviour or they will be brought to justice if they are caught.” Mr Petrus said he spoke to the provincial police commander who told him it was difficult to identify who was behind the actions .

“The police, they can’t really get the job done and actually rescue these two women and take them out and put them in a safe location,” he said. “It’s a bit complicated when the police are negotiating with the community.”

Big challenge for higher education

The National, Monday April 27th, 2015

THE number of Grade 12 graduates will increase from about 21,000 last year to 114,028 by 2050, says the Minister for Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology.

Malakai Tabar said that was based on past statistics from the Education Department.

Of these, it would be fair to estimate that at least 30 per cent (34,208) will likely seek entry into universities and colleges, he said.

“This estimated demand is likely to increase even further, perhaps even double or triple.”

Tabar said this would eventuate: “If we fully-factor-in the effect of recent policy and social changes, such as the Government’s tuition fee free policy, removal of various exit points in secondary schooling and the fact that generally parents are seen wanting their children to stay in school longer.”

Tabar said the higher and technical education sector clearly had a huge task on hand.

“Our challenge is to provide sufficient student places to accommodate these increased demands and ensure that quality and relevance of our academic and training programmes do not decrease but increase.

“We have to ensure that these places are for study in academic and training programmes that will result in graduates who are highly-competent needed in the country.”

“This is the only way forward to create a brighter future for PNG and in particular a smart, fair, wise, healthy and happy society.”

The Word of God — How do we understand the term?

[Note, with various overly “literal” undertandings of the term circulating these days associated with the King James Bible, here is an explanation in the New Jerusalem Biblical Commentary (p. 1033.)]

“This traditional formula (Word of God), apparently simple, is extremely complex and polyvalent. Some Protestant evangelicals affirm an almost physical identity between the Scriptures and words actually spoken by God, rejecting as inadequate the view that the Scriptures attest to the word of God. Other Christians can affirm that the Bible is the word of God while maintaining that God has never communicated in words. Some Protestant theologians affirm that the word of God is a dynamic reality; accordingly, Jesus is preeminently the Word of God (Barth). The Scriptures are truly the word of God when they become alive in proclamation and preaching (Bultmann). Cardinal Martini has helpfully distinguished various senses of the expression “word of God.” Basically it suggests divine communicability. Thus it can refer to (1) the events of salvific history because Hebrew dabar means “word, event, reality.” (2) the spoken message of divine emissaries, esp. the prophets and Jesus; (3) the person of Jesus who is the Word of God; (4) Christian preaching; (5) God’s general message to human beings; (6) the Bible.

Though canonized by long usage, “word of God”should not be used of the Scriptures without further hermeneutical reflection.. True, it highlights the divine origins of the biblical communication and expresses its reality and force. Nevertheless, the “word of God” in the Jewish and Christian traditions is radically different from the divine oracles of ancient Hellenistic and Near Eastern religions — it is intended not simply to impart truth but to encourage, console, challenge, etc. Since the words contained in the Scriptures are, in the only written reality they possess, human words, “word of God” is necessarily analogous language. A distance is maintained conceptually between the scriptural expression and the self-communication of God in itself, even in the case of the prophets. Theologically it is less confusing to state that the Scriptures witness to the Word of God.”

The Passion of Papua New Guinea. Easter Message 2015.

By Archbishop Douglas Young, Mount Hagen

This Easter, occurring as we prepare for the fortieth anniversary of our Independence, I have been thinking not only of the passage of Jesus’ body from suffering, pain and death to a glorified body, but also of the passage of his soul, from rejection, betrayal, mockery and abandonment to a “glorified soul”.

We are familiar with the physical sufferings of Jesus: his torture through beatings by soldiers in the miscarriage of justice called his “trial”, his scourging, his crowning with thorns, his carrying of the cross through the streets of Jerusalem, his falls, his humiliating public stripping, his being nailed to the cross, his struggles to breathe, and eventually his death, followed by further damage to his body by a spear being thrust in his side. It should not be too difficult for us to relate our own aches and pains, as well as our own life threatening injuries and illnesses to some aspects of the physical passion of Jesus. There is hardly anything that can happen to our body that is not reflected in some way in the suffering of Christ.

We can see similar scars on the body of the nation itself: a justice system which appears to be failing the poor, all kinds of unnecessary suffering as a result of an ailing heath system, poor roads, alcohol and drug abuse, violence and crimes at all levels of society. We can even see the current crisis with TB as part of Jesus’ own struggles to breathe as he loses the strength needed to push himself upwards. Sadly, there are also people in our society who have lost the traditional respect for life and feel that they have a right to strip and torture others, especially the weak and defenseless, in order to obtain “confessions” of sanguma. I am struck by the close parallels of what was done to Jesus and what is still done today to those accused of sorcery. That should be enough evidence of who is really behind these allegations!

And at a time when we are all appalled at the unjust death sentence imposed on Jesus, we are still debating whether we have the right to kill our own citizens in the name of justice, arguing along with Caiaphas that it is better that some die to keep the nation safe

At Easter all of Jesus’ physical suffering is vindicated. It is glorified. The physical scars of Jesus remain after the resurrection. But they are now glorified. They now find their true meaning and in some ways are taken into the divine. This will happen to all of us and our nation also. Whatever the physical suffering we endure in this life will find its ultimate meaning when we rise with Christ.

Btu Jesus also suffered greatly in his soul, and possibly this suffering was even greater than the physical. He was rejected by the leaders and teachers of the people, those very people that he had advised his followers to obey but not to imitate. He was betrayed by someone in his own inner circle, someone he trusted completely, even to the extent of entrusting him with the finances of the community. He was then abandoned by his closest friends who were not there for him when he needed them. Even the one to whom he had entrusted the leadership of his followers denied ever knowing him. Then he was mocked by soldiers and the crowd, making a fool of him. Ultimately he felt abandoned, not only by his disciples but even by his Father.

This “soul-suffering” also found its meaning and purpose in the resurrection. His own rejection became the means of his including all people everywhere in the infinite mercy of God. His own betrayal became the magnificent sign of his unconditional love for all us sinners. The mockery he experienced is fulfilled when his name is lifted higher than any other, and his sense of abandonment became the sacrament of his intimate union with his Father and with all creation.

As with the physical glorification we as individuals and as a nation can also look forward to a spiritual glorification. All our sufferings of soul, our loneliness, our hurts, our failures, our own sense of rejection and abandonment, even betrayal by those who we trusted and were close to us, can also find their meaning in the resurrection of Christ. We don’t even have to wait till our physical resurrection for this to happen. In Christ all suffering finds meaning. John’s gospel shows us how everything done to destroy Jesus actually brought about his glory. He was always in control. Everything that seems to be dragging us down is actually lifting us up if we bring it to Jesus on the cross.

This must be a source of great joy for us as individuals and as a nation. It is the true meaning of Easter. All will be well. We can continue to live in hope and allow our hope to transform our actions away from selfishness, corruption, violence of all kinds, and the exclusion of the people we don’t like. No suffering is too great for the healing hand of Christ to transform it into something beautiful, wonderful, and life-giving. If only we have the faith.

We have the choice to go with this tide of Christ’s victory and participate already in God’s plan for our fulfillment, or waste our time and energy in fighting against it. I can assure you that peace and blessings follow from the decision to give your life and sufferings to Christ and then live a life in harmony with his plan.

In this spirit I wish all the people of the Archdiocese and all the people of Papua New Guinea a truly happy and holy Easter. I pray that all our individual and social ills may be transformed by Christ in his Easter glory and become the source of a renewed journey of discipleship with him. Let us become better people forming a better nation.

Happy Easter!

See Evil of capital punishment: Bishops pronounce on death penalty,

Bishop Arnold Orowae | Catholic Bishops Conference. [See url below for the full statement]

http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2015/04/evil-of-capital-punishment-bishops-pronounce-on-death-penalty.html#more

On the Contribution of Sport

Pastoral Letter of the Catholic Bishops Conference Of PNG/SI

http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2015/04/catholic-bishops-pronounce-on-sport-sunday-mornings.html#more

With the Pacific Games coming soon to Papua New Guinea, sport will be a topic of interest for many people. At this time your Bishops wish to offer a reflection on the value of sport and ways that we can all benefit. The Church recognises sport to be one of the great institutions of our society that helps individuals realise their human potential and builds up the bonds of the community, fostering comunal initiative and responsibility. Sport contributes to physical and mental health and wellbeing. It teaches people, particularly young people skills and resilience. When youth become involved in sport, they devote their energies to teaming together in a healthy environment, forgetting about antisocial activities such as violence and crime.

Sport brings people together in new ways. Parents and teachers volunteer their time to organise events. Women may be spectators in many public events, but with sport in the village, in games such as volleyball and basketball, they play equally along with males. Sporting contests often provide special facilities for disabled athletes – a consideration that could well be matched in other spheres of life.

Sport opens us up to the wider world. Many of us eagerly watch the “State of Origin” being played in Australia. Back home, how many of us feel proud when one of our athletes wins a medal in international events such as the Commonwealth Games. Athletes such as Dika Toua or Stephen Kari have become household symbols of our achievement in the eyes of the world.

When interactions offer fun, competition, skill and goal-setting, there is a fertile environment for personal development. Sport builds character. It teaches us discipline as we learn to play by the rules. When sports teams promote fairness, firmness and moral courage, there exists a wonderful space in which to help young people grow into adulthood: a form of initiation where the “elders” (coaches or teachers) set goals and boundaries in a safe, caring and no-nonsense setting. In such settings the benefits flow not just to the local community, but to the nation as a whole.

But there is also another side to sport that can bring sadness rather than delight. We should keep in mind that special events come and go but normal life goes on. It is important to keep a balance between the value of sport and sporting events and other goals of society. Some countries have been so keen to project a good image on the international stage that their people have been left suffering and paying bills for years afterwards. Let us make sure this does not happened to PNG.

Sometimes there is violence on the field or among spectators. On occasion there is gambling and betting and associated abuse of drugs and alcohol. We must guard against such antisocial activities that ruin the good name of sport. Also we are saddened to see some sports events scheduled on Sunday mornings, which are a time that most Christians devote to Sunday worship. We ask that sports managers try to keep the Lord’s Day holy, having in mind the words of St Paul to the Corinthians (1 Cor 9:25) “Every athlete concentrates completely on training in order to be crowned with a wreath that will not last; but we do it for one that will last forever.”

Bishop Arnold Orowae, President of the Catholic Bishops Conference PNG/SI, 23rd April 2015

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Social Concerns Notes — March 2015

PNG tops porn searches on Google, experts divided over link on pornography and violence

PNG Blogs, Thursday, February 26, 2015

PNG has some of the highest rates of sexual and domestic violence in the world. A study published in the scientific journal The Lancet, found 59 per cent of men in PNG’s Autonomous Region of Bougainville had raped their partner and 41 per cent had raped a woman who was not their partner.

Australia’s deeply Christian northern neighbour, Papua New Guinea, is the most pornography-obsessed country in the world, according to Google Trends. PNG has a population of less than 8 million people and low rates of internet use, but has the greatest percentage of searches for the words “porn” and “pornography” compared to the nation’s total searches. Eight of the top 10 nations listed were developing countries in Africa, with Fiji ranking ninth. “Working with young men, we find that porn is very accessible,” said Thelma Kavanamur, communications officer with the youth organisation The Voice Inc.

“It’s on their laptops at the universities, it’s in their phone, they watch it in their rooms, they can be standing by on the streets and watching it — I have seen that personally.” Other studies used by the government suggest a third of PNG women are raped, with two-thirds of women experiencing physical or sexual violence. But the link between pornography and sexual violence remains hotly debated by researchers.

… Dr Flood thinks there is a link between porn and rape. “There’s good evidence that using pornography — and particular violent pornography — is associated with a tolerance for sexual violence, a tolerance for rape,” he said. “Not only that but [pornography is] associated with an increased participation in sexual violence, an increased rate of perpetration.” But Dr Flood said pornography was by no means the only cause of sexual violence, especially in a country like PNG. He said wider gender inequalities, cultural attitudes towards sex and overall levels of violence were contributing factors. “PNG is a country with high levels of all forms of violence, inter-personal violence… so you’d expect also to see high levels of violence against women,” Dr Flood said.

State will block porn

The National, Friday February 27th, 2015

THE Government is planning to put in place a K2 million internet filter to block access to pornographic websites in the country, officials say. Government officials yesterday responded to a revelation by Google Trend that Papua New Guinea was the “most pornography-obsessed country in the world”. It says even though the country has a population of less than eight million and a low rate of internet use, it has the greatest percentage of searches for the words “porn” and “pornography” compared with the nation’s total “searches” online. Chief censor Steven Mala told The National yesterday, the censorship office wanted to filter “the rubbish supplied free online which spoiled the mind-set of the young children of Papua New Guinea”.

What are the answers to obsessive & pornographic internet use?

11 March 2015, Fr Giorgio Licini Catholic Reporter PNG

http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2015/03/what-are-the-answers-to-obsessive-pornographic-internet-use.html#more

PAPUA New Guinea made international headlines recently when it was claimed it is the most porn obsessed country in the world according to results from Google internet search engines. At the same time there is no doubt that prostitution is on the rise, with both local and foreign sex workers being hired or enslaved. In November last year a mother and teacher of one of our well known secondary schools told me their boys dormitory is illuminated until late at night by the light of cell phones apparently being used for questionable web surfing.

It is a waste of time calling for legislation, censorship or blocking of websites. The offer is so huge in the streets and on the internet, and ways to get around restrictions so easy, that hunting for the forbidden makes the challenge more interesting and the transgression spicier. Only personal change and free choice can make a difference. Only parental guidance, good education, healthy friendships, community service, religious practice and church involvement can take young minds to greener pastures. This is certainly not a problem of youth alone. At a young age there is the mitigating excuse of natural curiosity and guilty pleasure.

But what about parents, school, community, political and church leaders? In many cases the banalisation of sexuality, which should be considered part of God’s continuous work of creation, and attacks on family life become systematic. There is a need to strongly and publicly reprimand adults who promote, practice or take financial advantage from prostitution. There is also a need to vigorously educate young people to handle their natural emotions and gradually channel them towards constructive friendships and family life. This needs to be done with love and care, patience and good example. It is consoling and encouraging to see people happy and taking care of their spouse and children rather than watching them tear their life apart with occasional partners, roaming the streets or becoming internet addicts.

Under-age marriage ban

Post Courier, March 13, 2015,

THE revised Lukautim Pikinini Act will enforce the legal marrying age of 18 years. Marriage by girls – and boys – under 18 years of age would be deemed illegal under the new law, which would be re-introduced in Parliament for amendment in the May session.

Constitutional Law Reform Commission Secretary Eric Kwa outlined the marriage age and other measures to protect children’s rights in the new Lukautim Pikinini Act during the 2015 PNG Women’s Forum in Port Moresby. He said that for the first time, the Government had developed a child protection policy, which would guide the implementation of the Lukautim Pikinini Act.

Three laws; Lukautim Pikinini Act 2009, Deserted Wife and Children’s Act, and the Infant’s Act had been merged and amalgamated as a single legislation.

“We have now merged them in this one single legislation because it is important that the child is dealt within a single legislation so a child needs the protection of the parent,” he said.

Mr Kwa said the law would prevent minors from marrying until they reached the age of 18, even if a girl became pregnant at 15.

“She will not be allowed to be married off, the law says no, you have to wait until after 18, then you can get married,” he added.

Mr Kwa said the Lukautim Pikinini Act 2009 was being reviewed within government agencies.

Tackling Corruption at its Root in Papua New Guinea

Post Courier, Thursday, March 5, 2015

Corruption, the single largest obstacle to socioeconomic development worldwide, has had a grave impact on the southwest Pacific Island nation of Papua New Guinea. While mineral resource wealth drove high gross domestic product (GDP) growth of eight percent in 2012, the country is today ranked 157th out of 187 countries in terms of human development. Key anti-corruption fighters in the country say that money laundering must be tackled to increase deterrence and ensure that stolen public funds earmarked for vital hospitals and schools do not pay for luxury assets abroad. A patronage system of governance and a culture of secrecy have led to the misappropriation of an estimated half of Papua New Guinea’s development budget of 7.6 billion kina (about 2.8 billion dollars) between 2009 and 2011 — Investigation Task-Force Sweep (ITFS)

“Our police officers, school teachers and health workers live and work in very squalid circumstances,” Lawrence Stephens, chairman of Transparency International (PNG), in the capital, Port Moresby, told IPS. “So when we see the government awarding a contract for pharmaceutical and medical supplies to a company not qualified to tender, a company quoting a price 40 percent higher than the closest qualified tender and costing the equivalent of 160 new homes for nurses each year of the three-year contract, we blame corrupt individuals for destroying development.” Papua New Guinea has been given a corruption score of 25/100, where 100 indicates clean governance, in comparison to the world average of 43/100, by Transparency International. The country’s dedicated anti-corruption team, Investigation Task-Force Sweep (ITFS), launched by the government in 2011, has described the country as a ‘mobocracy’, where a patronage system of governance and a culture of secrecy have led to the misappropriation of an estimated half of the development budget of 7.6 billion kina (about 2.8 billion dollars) from 2009 to 2011. Large-scale theft of public funds, including foreign aid, is alleged to have occurred across government departments responsible for national planning, health, petroleum and energy, finance and justice.

A 2006 Public Accounts Committee Inquiry into the Lands Department alone concluded that it had conducted itself illegally over many years and given priority to the interests of private enterprise and speculators over the interests and lawful rights of the State. The department’s shortfall in revenue was 5.9 million kina (2.2 million dollars) in 2001 and 4.9 million kina (1.8 million dollars) in 2003.

State capture, where powerful private sector interests exert undue influence over state leaders, officials and procurement processes, has had devastating repercussions for national development. Approval of ‘white elephant projects’ has channelled windfalls to criminal syndicates, Sam Koim, the ITFS Chairman, reported in the Griffith Law Journal. Koim told IPS that, of 302 cases of corruption entailing revenue of up to 5.3 billion kina (1.9 billion dollars) under investigation, 91 had been prosecuted. Twenty-eight senior public servants have been suspended or removed from office, while two Members of Parliament and two senior public servants have been convicted and jailed….(see the rest of the article from the url given above)

The belief in sorcery as a reality: Beyond ignorance death awaits

Post Courier, 05 March 2015

SORCERY related killings are common in Papua New Guinea, so much so that the government has been forced to repeal the Sorcery Act. One of the major reasons for this was that it was found that the Act encouraged the killing of innocent people because of their perceived involvement in deaths related to the practice of sorcery. The Act, as it stood, seemed to legitimise such vigilante action.

With the removal of the Act, harm done to a person alleged to have practiced sorcery will be dealt with harshly under the criminal law. Sorcery related killings will now be treated as murder.

In many societies in PNG, people believe sorcery is real. I was told that when the police arrest someone suspected of practicing sorcery in one particular place they call upon the expertise of a particular ‘grand master sorcerer’ to help detect whether the suspect is actually a sorcerer or not.

Maybe that was something that was missing in the previous Sorcery Act. I wonder where we would be with the sorcery issue if ‘master sorcerers’ had been engaged to work with the district, national and supreme courts to detect and prosecute the culprits under the then Sorcery Act. Yet even this might convey a sense that justice is not done as people would tend to question the integrity or credibility of a sorcerer assisting the courts….

All of us know, whether consciously or not, that there are two forces at play in our lives. The act of sorcery may be a form of the dark forces at work and overcoming the forces of light.

This implies that addressing sorcery related issues should go beyond the superficial and cause every Papua New Guinean to seek higher spiritual enlightenment to deal with matters of mysticism. This will not only involve a massive nationwide civic awareness campaign but, most importantly, it will require the government to deliver basic health and education services to the people.

Churches for their part need to be revitalised with a deeper understanding of the truth in the Bible so a light can shine upon those who are ignorant and groping in the darkness.

Sex abuse concerns judge

The National, Wednesday March 11th, 2015

A JUDGE has expressed concern over the number of cases on sexual abuse of children in the country. Justice Salatiel Lenalia raised his concern while presiding over child abuse cases in Kokopo, East New Britain this week. He said the prevalence of sexual abuse of children was a matter of concern to the people and authorities because most victims were very young. Lenalia said the Sexual Offences and Crimes Against Children Act aimed to protect children under the age of 16 from sexual abuse and exploitation. “Children are our future leaders and they should not be exposed to sex at an early age,” he said. “The law places fathers and mothers on the position of trust and authority to care and nourish children and bring them up to the stage where they will become adults and be independent persons,” Lenalia said. He said the law regarding incest established a fundamental principle of the “sacred trust” which children had towards their father, mother, brother, sister, or close relative. Lenalia said sexual offences against young girls and women in the country were serious in nature

People unclear on climate change

The National, 25th Feb, 2015

Many people are yet to understand the international concept of reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation undertaken by the Government in 2013, an official says. PNG Forest Authority forest policy and planning director Dr Ruth Turia said REDD projects needed to be understood by the people. “It is not something that some of us are used to – like the timber projects,” Turia said. “Some people say it is just wind and you cannot measure the carbon stock in the forests. That is the challenge we are getting through to get them understand how we can measure that in the forest. REDD+ project means that we will protect a selected forest area from logging and human activities thus reducing greenhouse gas emission and climate change effects. “The landowners will receive compensation and other social benefits for not touching their forests.” Turia said it was what they tried to do in the REDD+ pilot projects in Milne Bay (Suau), East Sepik (April Salumei), West Sepik, Eastern Highlands and West New Britain. She said when the pilot projects were completed, they would be put on tender to international organisations to partner with locals on the projects.  Turia said the landowners willing to offer their forests must consult the forest authority, Office of Climate Change and Development and other non-government organisations.

Housing, health costs up in Consumer Price Index

Post Courier, February 25,2015, 03:07 am

THE most recent consumer price figures released by the National Statistics office have revealed high price index for health and housing, two of the most needed services. The rise for health group in its Consumer Price Index (CPI) is blamed on the continuous increase in consultation fees for most private hospitals in all major centres while the rise for housing were a result of rapid growth of the real estate sector’s increasing building repairs and maintenance activities.

Comparing statistics for December 2013 to December 2014, health group had the highest inflation in CPI shown in the charts, having increased a massive 24.1 percent, followed by housing with an increase of 14.9 percent. Health group had a sharp climb, with a 7.9 percent increase from September 2014 to the December quarter. The rise in index was an effect of increased prices of items in the medical services and medical supplies during the four month period.

Catholic Health Service Continues to Provide Basic Services to People of Kiunga Daru Diocese

PNGLOOP, 3rd Mar, 2015

This time in Kiunga Catholic Mission Urban Clinic the community health workers with Bishop Giles Cote of Kiunga Daru Diocese, North Fly Health Director John Larry, Catholic Health Service Secretary Sr Anna Sangimawa and Acting Health Secretary of Evangelical Churches of PNG Max Ako with other partners launched the TB Program to fight TB in the catchment area in Kiunga. The theme “A way forward in reducing TB in Western Province through advocacy on Behaviorally change back to the basics,” brings to light many important preventive educational measures that can be taken to fight the deadly disease. People from all settlements in the St Gerard Parish came to listen to what the health professionals using power point got for them about TB. According to the Catholic Health Secretary Sr Anna Sangimawa the aim of the awareness was to educate, advocate and show the people little basic preventive measures that can be taken to fight TB, and if those that have it, a way forward on getting treatment in hospital and clinic. Sr Anna said Multiple Drug Resistant TB (MDR) was their target within this two weeks to preach about and make it known to the people that Kiunga has no place for MDR TB. “Let’s take the basic steps to fight TB simply by taking preventive measures and quit the style of being ignorant,” Sr Anna said. She said the government has paid for the medicine and it’s free in clinics and hospitals it’s up to us now to take that responsibility to make health our business and work towards maintaining healthy lifestyle in our homes and families.

It cost K8, 400 to treat a TB Drug Resistant TB Patient and this goes up to K38, 000 a patient for extensive drug- resistance TB and yearly 15, 000 cases of TB is recorded. Western Province is the third highest province with the highest number of TB and rising rapidly, as of December 2014, 153 drug resistant TB cases are on second line treatment in Western Province.

Kidu supports program to stop maternal mortality rate

Post-Courier, 06th March 2015

A STRONG advocate on maternal mortality says the issue of maternal mortality, maternal health and child health is not a health issue, it’s a social issue and a development issue. As the new patron of the new $10 million, five-year research program, Dame Carol Kidu is believed to be a new and influential supporter for Burnet Institute’s healthy mothers, healthy babies (HMHB) program, designed to address the appalling rate of death and disease among women and children in Papua New Guinea. “I’ve been a strong advocate on maternal mortality, not just in PNG but regionally, and I recognise that we are nowhere near reaching any of the targets that we are supposed to meet. The need for evidence-based approaches is critical, and I’m confident that Healthy Mothers Healthy Babies will inspire and assist enormously,” Dame Carol said. Dame Carol becomes the Patron of the new, $10 million, five-year research program, which aims to arrest a maternal mortality rate in PNG that’s one of the highest in the world and 80 times worse than Australia’s. She said but we need to remember that Healthy Mothers Healthy Babies is only the beginning of a long road. Communities need to take responsibility for the safety of mothers, and that includes men.”

Lawyers slack

Post Courier, March 09,2015.

THE National and the Supreme Courts have a backlog of more than 21,000 cases dating back 32 years because of “bad lawyering”, according to Chief Justice Sir Salamo Injia. The backlog continues to increase every year because of the inability of the courts and lawyers in assisting the court in conducting cases with due despatch and efficiency, Sir Salamo said. He said the National Courts now had more than 20,000 pending cases dating back to 1983 while the Supreme Court had more than 1200 pending cases dating back to 1994. “The hearing of cases are unduly and unnecessarily delayed for months and years,” he said during the admission of new lawyers on Friday. “When cases are heard, they are not completed within reasonable time in that they are left part-heard and unattended to or decisions are reserve for months and years on end and list goes on.” “It is the duty of the courts, assisted by a competent legal profession that holds key to the disposition of these cases in a timely and qualitative manner.” Sir Salamo said the bulk of the cases that goes before the high courts are filed by lawyers on behalf of their clients and lawyers decide if the case is to continue to its conclusion or to withdraw it from the court. “The lawyers are indeed the gatekeepers of the court. If lawyers do not do their job properly, this directly contributes to a build-up of cases or that when cases are heard, justice is miscarried,” he said.

Eastern Highlanders seek medical help in Chimbu

The National, Monday March 9th, 2015

EASTERN Highlands Governor Julie Soso has expressed concern that people from her province are flocking to neighbouring Chimbu to seek medical treatment. Soso last Friday met with striking nurses and hospital staff at the Goroka Provincial Hospital. She  said she was unhappy to learn that Eastern Highlanders were spending money to travel to Chimbu for treatment. “I was in Kundiawa (Chimbu) last week and visited the hospital,” Soso said. “I found out that all the patients from Goroka go there to get treatment. We have our own hospital here.

Soso told the striking nurses, hospital management and the provincial health authority board to “come down” and “humble” themselves. She told them that the lives of the 600,000-plus people of Eastern Highlands were in their hands. The nurses were protesting about what they claimed were deplorable working conditions at the hospital. They have held a sit-in protest for the past three weeks.

UN report says Australia’s treatment of asylum seekers breaches torture convention

Story courtesy of ABC Radio Australia March 09, 2015

A report by the United Nations finds Australia is breaching the international convention against torture in its treatment of some asylum seekers. A report by the United Nations has found Australia is breaching the international convention against torture in its treatment of some asylum seekers. The report has been prepared by the UN’s special rapporteur on torture, Professor Juan Mendez, and is being tabled in Geneva today at the UN Human Rights Council. Professor Mendez said Australia had failed to provide adequate detention conditions and that it should end the detention of children. His report also said Australia should put a stop to the escalating violence on Manus Island. Human Rights Law Centre director Daniel Webb said Australia was breaching the convention against torture it signed years ago. “Now Australia is being found to breach that convention to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment,” he said. Mr Webb said the report was a condemnation of Australia’s indefinite detention of asylum seekers on Manus Island and the conditions there. “It is basically Australia being named and shamed on the world stage as a country that fails to comply with the convention against torture, and

Rains cause havoc in H’lands region

Post Courier, March 11,2015, 12:44 am

FLOODS caused by continuous rainfall in the Highlands has destroyed gardens and deformed riversides. Not only coffee trees and vegetable gardens were washed away but even huge landslides have polluted rivers and waterways. Many families could not drink from the rivers as it is not safe so they store rainwater for personal and household use. The effects of the continuous rainfall since the beginning of the year was so devastating that it affects families very badly. Joe Alu, a resident from Warakar in Jiwaka said the land on which his father’s coffee plot, casuarina trees, cassava, kaukau and banana once grew were washed away by river Kar. “As a result of our garden being lost to the huge floods, my family is relying on money earned from selling betel nuts and cigarettes on the roadside.

“I don’t know how we’re gonna survive because the piece of land from the stretch of the company’s land (Amuliba Coffee Plantation) that we depend on is gone,” Joe said.

Many people in the Highlands region believe that the continuous rainfall is a result of climate change and global warming, thus there is no definite weather pattern predicted.

State may review death penalty

The National, Thursday March 12th, 2015

PRIME Minister Peter O’Neill says the death penalty may be reviewed in light of a growing international backlash against the use of capital punishment in Indonesia. He told the Wall Street Journal during a trip to Australia this week that growing criticism of Indonesia over the execution of foreign drug convicts had triggered a rethink. “We certainly do not want to be seen as a country that is ¬actively promoting the death penalty as a means of enforcing law and order in the country,” O’Neill said. “We are actively debating the death penalty issue in the government caucuses at present and there may be some need for review.” Australia has been putting pressure on Indonesia to spare the lives of two Australians facing the firing squad for drug-related offences. Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has warned Indonesia of “repercussions” if the two men were executed.

Parliament voted in May 2013 to reactivate death-penalty laws, unused since 1954, to make murder, rape and robbery punishable by measures ranging from hanging to a firing squad, as well as “medical” asphyxiation. The Government said the new laws would extend capital punishment to include serious corruption worth more than $5.8 million. O’Neill said there had been a huge drop, almost 50 per cent, in major crimes in PNG “and of course there has been a substantial fall in petty crimes as well”.

The country currently has 13 people on death row.

Drug abuse still rife in our schools

Post Courier, March 13,2015, 12:38 am

THE high consumption of illicit substances such as home-brewed alcohol and marijuana in the school aged population still remains a concern and the trend is very dangerous, says National Narcotics Bureau officer Lawrence Tau.

“This trend is very dangerous because according to the developmental neuro science, an adolescent’s brain is vulnerable to the neuro toxin effects of the 421 chemicals contained in the Marijuana that can affect the brain in few seconds,” Mr Tau said. He said addressing the issue of drugs is a big problem in the school-aged population because most of the youths who take this drug and make up the large number of mentally ill patients in psychiatric centres. “The primary and secondary school children today are been influenced and we need more awareness on such issue as it is the preparation ground for the development of a child. “So it shows that at this stage, when they consume such drugs, it affects the brain structure and the functions of the body.

“We need to guide and encourage our school children and make sure they fully concentrate on their studies rather than taking drugs,” Mr Tau said.

Taylor eyes lasting legacy

Post Courier, March 13,2015, 12:37 am

THE first woman secretary-general of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat Dame Meg Taylor wants to leave a legacy and a successful place especially for young women in Papua New Guinea and the Pacific. In her concluding remarks at the 2015 PNG Women’s Forum, Dame Meg, who was a panel participant on a discussion on partnering for mentoring and leadership development, encouraged mutually beneficial mentoring relationships among women and partnerships to develop the next generation of women leaders, gave this message:

“What do I want to be sure that when I have left, I leave a legacy and a place for those coming after me to succeed, especially our young women in Papua New Guinea and in the Pacific?” she said

“And how are we going to do that? We are going to explore the discussion to the mentoring power, very important for those of us, older generation are making sure that the young ones that are coming through, have the confidence, the ability, the capacity and the passion to succeed for our country.”

Apart from her political career, Dame Meg spoke about other top women leaders who made an impact in her life, in the likes of World Bank boss Christine Lagarde, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Eleanor Roosevelt. She also spoke so highly of her father and mother whom she said was a pioneer in everything she did. “My values are made of gospels… Have I made mistakes, have I not always adhere to them, gospels have been fundamental in my life, but I embrace and respect hard work and discipline and also responsibility for family, community and to be accountable for what you do, this is where it’s really lacking for many societies.

Gender inequality marginalising women

The National, 11th March, 2015

Gender equality is marginalising women in Papua New Guinea in terms of key government priority areas, Consultative Implementation and Monitoring Council (CIMC) executive director Wallis Yakam says. However, Yakam said women should not give up hope but work towards establishing ways to strengthen their rights. Speaking during the second PNG Women’s Forum co-hosted by the US Embassy and Department for Community Development this week in Port Moresby, Yakam said gender-based violence was an issue in the country and should be addressed at a higher level to really look at the state of violence against women. “Now that we have the forum here with international partners trying to address the issue with government, the government is now taking good progress with policy and legislative initiatives,” Yakam said. She said there was no coordinated effort specifically for women, with central agencies doing their own thing and nothing tied up in the budget. “There is nothing for women in the annual budget. For example, the National Council of Women – there is nothing for women,” she said. Yakam said if the government was serious about addressing gender equality and gender-based violence, it should provide support in terms of allocating funds for women in the annual budgets and provide capacity and incentives for them.

Watchdog: Systemic corruption worrying

Post Courier, March 19,2015, 01:31 am

CORRUPTION in public administration topped complaints received by Transparency International PNG in the past five years, its records show. TIPNG’s registered complaints on corrupt practices in public administration ranged from registry processing, public tender processes, retirement benefits and misappropriation of district funds, TIPNG chairman Lawrence Stephens said yesterday.

At least 551 complaints of corruption were made to Transparency International PNG between 2009 and 2014, in which the advocacy and legal advice centre had recorded and dealt with or referred to appropriate authorities to handle, the watchdog said.

PNG allows lawyers into Manus camp

21 March Radio NZ

The Papua New Guinea government has agreed to provide access to lawyers to obtain statements from asylum seekers held by Australia on Manus Island. The Australian-based Refugee Action Coalition says the move is a major breakthrough in the legal challenge to the Manus detention centre.

Mr Rintoul says they are extremely happy to finally have legal access to the detention centre.

He says ever since the detention centre was opened, asylum seekers have been denied access to lawyers and legal advice.

School fears. Funding shortfall may force early closure

Post Courier, March 24,2015, 03:41 am

PRINCIPALS and head teachers from Catholic Church-owned high schools and secondary schools have revealed they only received 70 per cent of the Government’s tuition fee free subsidy. Failure by the Government to remit the remaining 30 per cent of the subsidy will force the closure of church-run schools throughout the country before the end of Term 2, they warned at a March 16-20 conference in Port Moresby.

However, the gap in funding could be filled by the parents, they added, to enable the institutions to continue operating while waiting for the rest of the subsidy to be deposited into the school accounts.

The principals and head teachers were informed that only 70 per cent of the first payment for every child throughout the country was paid. For example, if the first payment was K825 per child, only K577.50 was paid. The payment of the remaining 30 per cent is uncertain. The second payment is expected in July just before the start of term three,” the teachers said in a statement released last night. All the principals and head teachers have expressed concern that this money is not enough to run the schools until the end of term two. All schools have experienced increased enrolments and increase in prices of goods and services. Remote schools have experienced increased cost of transport.

The decrease in the TFF payment will mean that schools will have to close before the end of term two.”

NRI report on PNG bank interest rate margins

Post Courier, March 23,2015, 08:00 pm

THE interest rate margins for Papua New Guinea is among the highest compared to similar endowed nations. This is according to a report by the National Research Insitute on the Bank Interest Rate Margins in PNG which it launched today. The report states that the the large margin to be due to a combination of abnormally high lending rates and abnormally low rates of interest paid on deposits.

The research also shows that the mortgage rates on residential loans in PNG as of September 2014 to be nearly twice that in Australia while interest rates paid on deposit is often lower. The report states that two things that weigh down growth of income are that the high rates of interest on loans slow investment while low rates of interest paid on deposits acts as a discouragement for savings.

Professor Satish Chand said that the margins could be reduced within the short run by increasing competition in the provision of financial services.

Rights of disabled people important

Post Courier, March 25,2015, 01:03 am

THE Government’s ongoing commitment towards upholding rights of persons with disabilities is just as important as realising its commitments in the convention, says the United Nations country representative Roy Trivedy. Commending the Government for making numerous progress in the disability sector, Mr Trivedy said it was more important that it upheld a continuous commitment to realise the rights of all persons with disabilities.

“In ratifying the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2013, the Government made a commitment to uphold the rights of all persons with disabilities,” he said.

New research shows tuberculosis more widespread

Post Courier, March 25,2015, 01:03 am

A NEW tuberculosis (TB) research has found that more people have the disease than what has been reported by the Health Department. The research was carried out by the Institute of Medical Research and partnership in health (PiH) program funded by ExxonMobil PNG. Presenting the findings last week, Dr Suparat Phuanukoonnon said the IMR had conducted the research in four case study areas Kikori (Gulf), Hiri (four villages near the PNGLNG plant in Central Province), Hides (Southern Highlands Province) and Karkar in Madang Province. She said the research found that in Kikori 9670 people were surveyed with an incidence of 1282 (per 100,000 population) compared with 785 as reported by Health Department. In Karkar 18,413 people surveyed, with an incidence of 510 against Health’s 276. In Hiri 13,310 people were surveyed with an incidence of 458 against Health’s 165 and in Hides 5596 people surveyed with an incidence of 36 against Health’s 84. Dr Phuanukoonnon said people took time to seek medical health care and some cease treatment once they felt better which is a problem. This contributed to the increase of people infected with TB, she said.

Is the Education Department exploiting Elementary School Teachers?

http://www.pngblogs.com By: Fr John Glynn

The subject of this report is a female Elementary School teacher in a remote Central Province Village

Ms X teaches at the Elementary School in her village. This is fully registered Catholic Agency school. Total enrolment at the school is about 58 children ranging in age from 6 years to 8, with a few older.

Ms X has remained without being paid since 2010. There is an Acting Teacher in Charge (TiC) who receives a salary. The real TiC is now a student at Teachers’ College and is still receiving his salary from the Department.

Ms X’s history:- 2010 Ms X was recruited to teach at the village Elementary School. She attended a six week course at Mirigeda near Loloata Island which qualified her to teach the Prep Grade. The cost of the course was K1,110. Ms X found a sponsor who paid this money for her. On completion of the course Ms X was instructed to complete a Resumption of Duty form so that she could be put on the payroll and receive a fortnightly salary. She did this but received no pay for all of the year. All her queries and appeals to her superiors and to Pay Section at FinCorp House were ignored.

2011 Ms X attended a second course to qualify her to teach at Elementary One (E1) level. The cost of the course was again K1,110 which was paid by Ms X’s sponsor. Ms X again filled in a Resumption of Duty form as she was instructed to do. Again she was not paid anything although she continued to teach faithfully for the full year. Her inquiries and appeals were again ignored.

2012 Ms X continued to teach. She was offered the third, E2, qualifying course but no longer had a sponsor to pay the fee so she did not do it. She filled in her Resumption of Duty form again but again received no pay for the year.

2013 Ms X taught for the full year, again completing her Resumption of Duty form but again was not paid and could get no help from anyone in the Department.

2014 Ms X found a sponsor and completed the E2 course which again cost K1,110. She completed her Resumption of Duty form but again was not paid and was denied any help or advice from the Department. She was now qualified to teach all three grades at Elementary level, but was not given a Certificate.

2015 Ms X continues to teach at her village school without any pay, although she has again filed her Resumption of Duty form. She has been offered a new course in teaching literacy through the phonics method. This course will cost K700.

In the past week Ms X has been trying again to get some help from anyone in the Department. Her Coordinator cannot help, neither can she get any help at the PNG Education Institute (PNGEI), and when she went to Pay Section at FinCorp House she was told that it would cost her K300 to process her paper work.

She has also been told the she and other newly qualified Elementary Teachers will shortly be given their Certificates at a special Graduation Ceremony to be held at PNGEI. However, this ceremony will cost the teachers K3,000 each, but graduation gowns will be provided at no further cost.

Teaching in the settlements

By Fr. John Glynn, Port Moresby

The Out Of School Children (OOSC) approach is what I call the Top Down approach to the problem. It requires a lot of preliminary work to be done before direct action can be taken to deal with the problem. It calls for a lot of planning, forums, workshops, brain storming, report writing, development of strategies, etc., etc., before approvals can be sought, funding secured, and implementation begun. In the meantime a lot of children continue out of school. The Bottom Up approach sees a child on the street, not in school, and acts to put the child into school at once. It is an organic approach – like planting a seed, watering it and watching to see what it will grow into. The Bottom Up approach puts the needs of the child first. All the rest, planning, developing infrastructure, and so on is secondary. It is all important, of course, in fact it is essential, but it remains a subsidiary requirement. The Top Down approach is systematic, definitely not organic, and results in a carefully designed system that will undoubtedly produce a good result that will answer the problem in a satisfactory way. However, it creates the danger that the requirements of the system will take precedence over the needs of the child.

The Bottom Up approach places the needs of the child before the requirements of the system. What this means is that whatever resources are available will be used in order to meet the needs of the child. And these resources may well be totally unacceptable in the well designed, formal and systematic structure produced by the Top Down approach. An example of what I mean can be seen in how the ‘back yard’ Early Learning Centres that are currently spreading through the settlements and suburbs of our cities and towns right now. This informal answer to the problem of educating children for whom no school places are available has been developed by worried parents, and good hearted citizens. What happens is that a woman or a married couple takes on the responsibility for caring for a small number of young children who are running around unsupervised on the street. Using whatever materials are available the carer provides lessons for the children. Young women – and the occasional young man – volunteer to help. And then they look for support. The Foundation for Women and Children at Risk (WeCARe!) is currently supporting six (6) Early Learning Centres in settlements around Port Moresby, with a total enrolment of some 500 children. The volunteer teachers in these schools have no more than a Grade 8 or Grade 10 education. They attend a part time teacher training programme for a year. This training course is run by Church based organisation Ginigoada. It is funded by the Digicel Foundation with other support from the City Government and others. (The Digicel Foundation supports Early Learning Centres that cater for around 3,000 children in all). The trainers are qualified teachers. The trainees learn the phonics method for teaching literacy. They become very proficient at it. By the time the children are ready to enter Primary School they can read, write and handle numbers to a degree that puts them a year or more ahead of their classmates. WeCARe! assists these Early Learning Centres that are registered with us by paying for teacher training, providing teaching materials, providing materials for the construction of classrooms, for building desks. We provide the materials for installing VIP toilets (Ventilated Improved Pit toilets). We provide rain water tanks where needed. We provide children’s books, toys, school uniforms … WeCARe! has other programmes that provide assistance for very poor families and single mothers, and for disabled children. There must be thousands of children in Early Learning Centres around the country. Those schools of the ‘back yard’ variety are not recognised by the Education Department. Their teachers are not registered and the schools are not included in statistics collected in the recent national census of schools. They do not qualify for public funding of any kind. The fact that they are educating so many of our young citizens is irrelevant. They may be meeting the needs of the children, but they simply do not meet the requirements of the system, and so they are ignored and the children who are being educated are counted as being Out Of School!

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Social Concerns Notes — February 2015

Expert: TB crisis on our hands

Post Courier, January 30, 2015

THE primary infection of multi-drug resistant tuberculosis is a serious public health threat in Papua New Guinea, says a top public health specialist. Deputy secretary in charge of national health standards, Dr Paison Dakulala gave the ministerial taskforce on TB on its second meeting on Tuesday this blunt message. “PNG is facing a TB crisis today and if not addressed urgently it will become an unmaintainable national disaster very soon,” he said. “PNG has one of the highest rates of both drug-sensitive and drug-resistant TB cases in the world. “The emergence and escalation of drug resistant TB cases is putting severe stress on our already struggling fight against TB. “Drug-resistant TB results from an inappropriate or inadequate treatment regime for standard TB infection and it is very difficult and also expensive to treat. “Strengthening direct observed treatment strategy (DOTS) with trained personnel, expand quality diagnosis and treatment, improve drug supply chain management and quality-assured TB drugs, and maintain a robust and active monitoring and evaluation system.

“Funding for implementing the National Strategic Plan for TB control programs is not allocated in the current 2015 national budget.” He highlighted that controlling TB in the country for the next six years would cost the government K407.6 million outlined in the 2015 to 2020 Strategy. He said the Global Fund will assist funding with K55.6 million over the next three years to 2017. The national Government will spend K209.3 million on TB over the next five years. A funding gap of K147.7 million still exists. The 2015-2020 strategy will cover 30 health facilities in 12 provinces that have recorded more than half of the country’s case-loads or 53 percent; recorded more than two-thirds or 65 per cent of poor diagnosis and treatment cases, and more than three-quarters of TB cases that have been lost to follow up whilst on treatment, which is more than 75 per cent.

 

TB time bomb

Post Courier, February 13, 2015

TUBERCULOSIS (TB) is rising rapidly in Western Province that the whole population is at risk while the cost to effectively bring the serious health issue under control keeps rising. Health Minister Michael Malabag told Parliament yesterday the number of cases was rising rapidly with Western Province now having the highest number of drug resistant TB in PNG and have sought Australian assistance to address the issue. Mr Malabag said TB cases reached 234 by December 2014, with the three districts of South, North and Middle Fly seeing a double in TB notification rates since 2011.

“As of December 2014, 153 drug resistant TB patients are on second line anti-TB treatment in Western Province. This number includes 11 extensively drug resistant TB cases.

Mr Malabag said drug resistant TB is a particularly dangerous form of the disease that is very difficult to treat is is expensive. “Treatment is expensive and present funding is inadequate,” Mr Malabag said.

He said a course of treatment for drug resistant TB is around K8,400 per patient but this rises up to K38,400 per patient for extensively drug resistant TB.

He said the joint activities with the Australian government underway on the ground will include providing Tuberculosis and health experts, health outreach involving the Medics Queen – a sea ambulance – for outreach and patient transfers, funding 10 positions for doctors, district Tuberculosis officers, and health outreach staff, construction of a new 22 bed Tuberculosis ward for Daru General Hospital and providing $1.3 million for procurement of additional effective Tuberculosis drugs.

Voices Against Violence – raising the volume

19 February 2015 Solomon Star

The British Council and SIPPA will launch a ground-breaking book ‘Voices Against Violence’- published in both English and Pidgin – a collection of first-hand stories of survivors of violence, and the women who have taken to the stage to raise awareness about gender violence.

The same week, the project partners will launch a documentary shot over two years, which follows the development of the theatre group and their historic journeys within the Solomons, and to the Melanesian Festival in Papua New Guinea, and the Small Islands Developing States Conference in Samoa. While the project itself is due to end at the beginning of March, the partners are working with the Solomons Government and civil organisations to ensure sustainability of the theatre group, which is the first of its kind in the Solomon Islands. The book is: Voices Against Violence – a collection of first-hand stories of survivors of violence, and the women who have taken to the stage to raise awareness about gender violence.

Manus Island: PNG’s plans to return asylum seekers questioned by UN

Post Courier, January 30,2015, 10:00 am Story courtesy of ABC Radio Australia

The United Nations High Commission for Refugees questions Papua New Guinea’s plans to send back asylum seekers currently detained on Manus Island. This week PNG’s prime minister Peter O’Neill told the ABC he believed most of the 1,035 asylum seekers at the Manus Regional Processing Centre were not genuine refugees and would be sent home “within weeks”. Mr O’Neill said talks were underway with Iran and Iraq to return the men home. “I’m hoping … [Iran] will care about the people who are in this predicament and we will all try and do the best for these people,” he said. More than 100 men have received answers to their asylum applications, but it was not clear how many asylum seekers had completed the refugee status determination process. “Asylum seekers and refugees should not be forcibly sent back to a place where their lives are at risk,” said Babar Baloch, a spokesman for the UNHCR based in Geneva. “This act would be against the principle of non-refoulment [no forced return] under the customary international law,” he said. “UNHCR advocates that asylum seekers should be given access to a full and efficient refugee status determination process.”

 

Asylum seekers ‘deserve better than squalor, risk of violence’

The organisation Human Rights Watch (HRW) was critical of Australia and Papua New Guinea in its World Report 2015, released yesterday. “Asylum seekers on Manus Island deserve better than to be locked up in squalor and at risk of violence,” Australian HRW director Elaine Pearson said. “Both Papua New Guinea and Australia are clearly failing in their commitment to provide safe and humane conditions for asylum seekers. “Facilities on Manus Island are overcrowded and dirty, and asylum claims are not processed in a fair, transparent, or expedient manner, contributing to detainees’ physical and mental health problems.”

An estimated 10,000 asylum seekers and refugees who fled Indonesian control in Papua and West Papuan provinces have spent decades in PNG without being permanently resettled. With no legal status for seeking employment, many lived in poverty and were at constant risk of eviction and violence from police.

30 more refugees to settle in PNG

Post Courier, February 04

PAPUA New Guinea has granted refugee status to 30 additional asylum seekers at the Manus asylum centre, Foreign Affairs and Immigration Minister Rimbink Pato announced on Monday. Mr Pato, who met with Australian Immigration Minister Peter Dutton, said this brings to 80 the number of asylum seekers who were now being processed and would be resettled in PNG when all documentations were in place. “Once a policy on the resettlement process has been finalised by a group of eminent persons, it is quite clear that a transition towards resettlement has commenced,” Mr Pato said. “Nine of the 80 asylum seekers were considered genuine refugees for the purpose of resettlement in PNG, they have left the processing centre and they’ve moved on to the East Lorengau transit centre, awaiting the final decision on the policy for resettlement in different parts of PNG,” he said. “In relation to those who have been determined as persons not eligible for settlement or are found not to be genuine refugees where two men have agreed to leave PNG. “However, 80 of the genuine refugees have sought the review of the decision. As soon as the review decision comes down, we will have them removed under the arrangements we have with the Australian Government.” He made it clear that the Australia Government would be expected to shoulder costs associated with those resettlements. Australia had promised support but Mr Dutton said it was a domestic matter for PNG.

If a person comes to a country to seek asylum, their refugee status will then be assessed.

The government decides whether the person is in danger, or if they are just trying to come to that country for free.

Catholic Bishops Conference of PNG and SI releases new sexual abuse policy

Post Courier, 2 February, 2015

Victims of sexual abuse at the hands of the clergy are being encouraged to come forward under a new policy released by the Catholic Bishops Conference of Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands.

The policy, which the Catholic Church has been working on since the 1990s, outlines clear steps for investigating wrongdoing within the church and encourages members of the congregation to report sexual abuse. The Director of Right Relationships in Ministry, Brother Frank Hough, helped formulate the new policy. He told Radio Australia’s Pacific Beat program, under the new framework, people wanting to report sexual misconduct could seek advice from a contact person. “We have what is called a contact person who is the first port of call, so to speak, for a person to make a complaint,” he said. “They explain to the person their options of going through the criminal process, or through the church process, but the person has the option of taking the criminal process or the church process.”

Brother Hough said hopefully under the new protocols and guidelines, people from Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands would find it less daunting to report allegations of sexual abuse within the church. “We find that in the societies in the Pacific, which are often male dominant with a great respect for church leaders and priests and who wish do not bring shame upon the church, the power of being a leader and chief and so on, that people are very reticent to bring claims against the body of a church or priest and more particularly in rural areas,” he said.

Gender inequality, corruption and police brutality

Source, EMTV Online http://www.emtv.com.pg/article.aspx?slug=HRW-2015-World-Report-addresses-gender-inequality-police-brutality-corruption&subcategory=Top-Stories

Gender inequality, corruption and police brutality are among the key issues Papua New Guinea faces today, Human Rights Watch’s 2015 World Report states. The report points out that an estimated 70 per cent of women in Papua New Guinea will experience rape or assault, in their lifetime.

Gender inequality issues were rife in 2014, despite the Family Protection Act (2013), and increased efforts by concerned agencies to drive the awareness of gender-based violence, gender equality and other development issues in the country. In November last year, prominent PNG women’s rights group, Coalition for Change pushed further for change, encouraging men to take part and the corporate sector to address gender discrimination in the workplace.

The 2015 World Report points out that existing laws have yet to effectively improve gender inequality, citing a lack of full government commitment, resources, police protection and ineffectual systems as contributory to extremely low arrest and conviction rates.

Oxfam Australia last year cited a need for more data and interaction with local authorities, institutions and the justice system to understand, and combat the issue more effectively.

The report touched on PNG’s political instability last year, including the arrest warrant filed by the police fraud squad against Prime Minister Peter O’Neill for his role in overseeing and allegedly signing off payments to a law firm. The report also pinpoints the subsequent sacking of then-attorney general Kerenga Kua, then-deputy commissioner Simon Kauba, as well as the disbandment of anti-corruption body Taskforce Sweep, as evidential hindrances in stemming white collar crime.

Regarding police brutality, the report points out that physical and sexual abuse inflicted by police officers is continuously widespread. Last week, five vendors were sexually assaulted by 10 intoxicated members of the police force. Although ranked 44th worldwide in Reporters Without Borders’ Press Freedom Index, PNG felt the boundaries of free media in June last year, when an EM TV cameraman and reporter covering a police brutality case were assaulted and forced to delete all footage and notes by policemen. The latest alleged case of police brutality, although still pending further investigation, is the shooting of two men of Hanuabada origin. The people of Hanuabada have since expressed their lack of confidence in police. Despite this, in December last year, the six-month training period for police officers at the Bomana training college was dropped to four months in an effort to reach the government’s request of 10,000 recruits by 2017. The report touches on other issues and may be read here.

Bishops slam police brutality, offer chaplaincy

Post Courier, February 03, 2015

THE Catholic Bishops Conference has condemned police brutality in any form, saying that in past few weeks Papua New Guinea has seen abuse of power by the police force. However, the bishops of PNG and the Solomon Islands said they could help by working closely with disciplinary forces like police by providing chaplaincy services to law enforcers. “But we have not got enough support from the Government,” the conference general secretary Father Victor Roche said yesterday, supporting the call the previous day by United Church Moderator Reverand Bernard Siai for immediate improvement of chaplaincy services in the disciplinary forces. Fr Roche told a media conference yesterday that the Government must have some plans in place to have Catholic chaplaincies in all provinces or police college to help conduct counselling sessions and help lift the morale of the policemen and women.

He said the involvement of policemen in the shooting death of a woman in Lae on January 1, sexual harassment in the police cells in Boroko and alleged killing of two men in Hanuabada village two weeks ago was a show of undisciplined police force. “Police are supposed to be a disciplined force and not undisciplined. Human rights should not be abused,” Fr Roche said, adding that abuse was due to the poor governance and widespread corruption in the police force.

The Catholic Bishop Conference suggested the following:

  • Hold proper investigation of the recent alleged abuses and killing by the police,
  • give in-service to the police who had served for many years,
  • have proper and longer training in the initial stages of the police force,
  • review wages and living conditions of the police, and get advice and

increase personnel from the Australian Federal Police.

Death penalty goes ahead

The National, Thursday February 5th, 2015

THE 13 people on death row are expected to be executed this year after Cabinet endorsed the proposed guidelines for the implementation of death penalty, it has been revealed. Secretary for the Department of Justice and Attorney-General Dr Lawrence Kalinoe told The National yesterday Cabinet had approved the establishment of an inter-agency committee to see its implementation.

Kalinoe said the 13 people on death row had less than a year to live because the Government was adamant on implementing death penalty this year. “The committee will facilitate the implementation of death penalty by this year,” Kalinoe said. He said the 13 people had exhausted all appeal and constitutional review processes, plus the plea for clemency. He said the death penalty would now be administered. The committee comprises the Departments of Justice and Attorney-General, Correctional Service, Police, Health, Community Development, National Planning and Monitoring, and the National Judiciary Staff Service. Cabinet approved the guidelines for the three modes of punishment – death by hanging, administration of anaesthetics followed by injection, and death by firing squad.

Kalinoe said critics of the death penalty had been claiming that the punishment was barbaric and not Christian in nature. But he said the Government was convinced that when the death penalty was implemented fully, “it would send out a strong deterrence warning to citizens of this country not to commit crimes that would likely attract the mandatory death sentences”. “The issue of death penalty has been evading us for some time now. It is one of the important issues of government,” Kalinoe said. He pointed out that the death penalty was  being implemented in the most sophisticated countries such as the United States of America. He said some people hid behind “human rights” to criticise the Government about the death penalty. He said they should realise that the offender never considered his or victim’s “human rights” before killing him or her.  “An accused person’s human rights are considered from the point of arrest to his sentencing in court.

“That person can even appeal for clemency or pardon. So when you look at it, the accused was accorded his human rights compared to the person he killed,” Kalinoe said.

Group says no to death penalty

The National, Monday February 16th, 2015

A CHURCH group says the death penalty is an abuse of human rights and not a solution to crime.

The Catholic Professionals of the Society of Papua New Guinea said they opposed the Government’s decision to execute people on death row this year. “Death penalty is not a solution to law and order problem. It only facilitates and promotes state suppression, oppression and denial of people’s freedom and human rights,” society president Paul Harricknen said.  Harricknen said the death penalty and its enforcement was an extreme form of violence. He said most of the people on the death row were common criminals and were not people with a higher power or rank. “You check those 12 people on death row. Is there any leader in that death row list, no? “The Government is using them to send a message that if you do this, we will shoot you, we will hang you and we will inject you. I think it’s unfair.”

On death row

The National, Monday February 9th, 2015

THE youngest of the 14 people intially on death row died from an illness last month while detained at Bomana Prison in Port Moresby, according to Correctional Services Minister Jim Simatab. Another person on death row is still on the run after escaping from Baisu Prison in Western Highlands.

It leaves 12 currently on death row. Simatab said Fred Abenko, 16, from Esa’ala in Milne Bay, convicted of double wilful murder in 2007, died from hepatitis in prison.  The prisoner on the run is Kepak Langa from Sangurap in Wabag, Enga. The 12 left on death row will know what mode of execution awaits them once a committee on the implementation of death penalty meets and reports back to Cabinet this week. Six of the 12 men were convicted on eight counts of wilful murder each and sea piracy. They were sentenced to death in July, 2011. They were found guilty of murdering passengers on a boat in East New Britain waters. They are detained at Kerevat Prison in East New Britain. They are Gregory Kiapkot, 41, from Lokanai in New Ireland, Martin Pigit, 39, from New Ireland, Peter Taul, 39, from Pilapila in East New Britain, Tobung Paraide, 43, from Pilapila, Bochea Agena, 44, and Kenny Wesley, 38, both from the Duke of York Islands, East New Britain.

Two men convicted of wilful murder and detained at Kerevat prison are Selman Amos, 64, and Misialis Amos, both from Kait, Konoagil in New Ireland. Three men convicted of wilful murder and detained at Bomana Prison are Ben Simakot, 30, from Yangkok in West Sepik, and Mark Poroli, 33, from Koroba in Southern Highlands. Sedoki Lota, 21, was convicted of wilful murder in 2007 and detained at Bomana Prison. Ambrose Lati, 49, from Wabag was convicted in 2009 of wilful murder and detained at Bomana. Kalinoe said the 12 people on death row had exhausted all appeal and constitutional review processes, plus the plea for clemency.

The setting up of the facilities will cost around K200 million.

Church leaders condemn PNG government death penalty decision

08 February 2015 Papua New Guinea Today http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2015/02/church-leaders-condemn-png-government-death-penalty-decision.html#more

It has been revealed that some 13 people on death row in Papua New Guinea are expected to be executed this year after the Cabinet endorsed proposed guidelines for the death penalty. Secretary of the Department of Justice, Dr Lawrence Kalinoe, told the media that the government had approved the establishment of an inter-agency committee to oversee its implementation.The announcement was received with hostility by the PNG Church Leaders Council. “We believe that all human life is God-given and that no one, including the State, should take upon itself the right to end a life,” the Council said in a media statement. It added that there is also evidence proving that, even in the best processes of justice, mistakes sometimes happen. It is unthinkable that a potentially innocent person be condemned to death. “As a Christian nation, we can never allow our justice system to sink to acts of revenge or payback,” the Council stated. “We must not take the attitude of ‘an eye for an eye’ but rather maintain penalties that are appropriate for all crimes but do not include the death penalty.

“Incidents of serious crime have not decreased in countries that have adopted the death penalty.

“The possibility of the death penalty increases the possibility that the criminal will murder their victim to eliminate them as a witness.”

70,000 marijuana plants uprooted

The National, Monday February 9th, 2015

THE first uprooting and seizure of marijuana in the Karinz local level government of Mendi-Munihu district in Southern Highlands has resulted in more than 70,000 plants gathered in just a month.

In addition, homebrew-producing equipment were surrendered to police in the presence of the Karinz community and is believed to be worth nearly K1000. The operation was launched by MP De Kewanu at in the beginning of the year and the final seizure was witnessed by Southern Highlands magistrate Vincent Eralia, local level government president and law and order chairman Simon Tolpe and a 12-member drug squad from the Mendi police. Tolpe, who had initiated the operation, said the last village he visited was Pingrip and would hand over to his comrade Lai Valley president Jack Soal, to continue the operation in his ward.  “I am happy to move with my 12-member police and take part in this operation,” he said. “The marvellous thing my people did was surrendering the illegal items.”

He said the operation was a success because a large number of youths surrendered. “They surrendered because they would be helped with chicken and fisheries projects and seedlings to replace the marijuana plants.”

Sorcery-accused rescued in PNG after torture

http://www.radionz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/265741/sorcery-accused-rescued-in-png-after-torture 10 February 2015

Police in Papua New Guinea have saved a woman who had been accused of sorcery. The say she was tortured and assaulted for three hours. Josephine Titus, from Enga Province, was rescued on Sunday morning after police and a group of advocates against sorcery related violence intervened.

The Post Courier reports Ms Titus was abducted by youths in the early hours of Sunday morning at the grave of a young teacher who was buried the day before. In the assault she suffered severe burns and injuries from hot iron rods and bush knives, and is now recovering at the Mt Hagen General Hospital.

Sergeant Susan Mondia, who was at the scene, said the matter was reported to the criminal investigation division. The advocates against sorcery related violence were trained by the Seeds Theatre Group in partnership with the Catholic Archdiocese of Mt Hagen, with funding support from the Canadian embassy.

PNG men save elderly woman from sorcery killing, hope to start rapid response squad

By Pacific Affairs reporter Liam Fox http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-02-11/png-men-rescue-tortured-woman-accused-of-sorcery/6084106. Wed 11 Feb 2015

Just two days after taking part in training to combat so-called sorcery killings in Papua New Guinea, two men rescued an elderly woman who had been tortured after being accused of being a witch.

Paul Petrus and Gabriel Bak took part in a Women not Witches workshop in Mt Hagen, organised by the Seeds Theatre Company, just before Mr Bak discovered a group of young men in his village of Komkui, torturing and attempting to murder an elderly women they said was a witch. Mr Bak called Mr Petrus in Mt Hagen, who raised the alarm with the police, and together the men convinced the group to release the woman. Mr Bak and Mr Petrus then took the woman to hospital for treatment.

“After the training we’d had with Seeds Theatre group, [Mr Bak] warned [the youths] if they burned the woman alive they would be in trouble, he said he’d go and get the police and take the woman to the hospital so that’s how we went there and rescued the woman from the community there,” Mr Petrus told the ABC. Mr Petrus said the woman was initially kidnapped in Mt Hagen city by her enemies, and dumped near a cemetery the youths were “guarding”. He said the woman was in “the wrong place at the wrong time”. “She escaped from these guys that kidnapped her and she ran until she was tired, and she tried to rest but unfortunately she was resting just close to where the youths were guarding the cemetery and some of the boys got there and started torturing her,” he said. Mr Petrus confirmed the woman aroused the suspicion of the youths, because she appeared soon after a burial had been conducted, and accused her of being a witch. Mr Petrus said he now wants to set up a dedicated rapid response group to save women suspected of witchcraft. “That’s what we’re definitely aiming at and that’s one of our main objectives – to be alert and to see around if there’s anything then call me and a police officer and we go and intervene,” he said.

State takes control of PNG airwaves as new media body meets

11 February 2015 http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2015/02/state-takes-control-of-png-airwaves-as-new-media-body-meets.html#more

THE Papua New Guinea government has moved to seize dominance of the domestic broadcasting market, buying via state-owned enterprise Telikom the most viewed free-to-air television station as the countdown begins for the next national election. The timing is immaculate, as highly politicised PNG moves past the halfway mark of its five-year parliament. Telikom also operates FM100, which claims the widest radio coverage and reach in the country, and is especially influential in current affairs, and music station HotFM 97.1. Last year it bought internet and data company Datec from Steamships.

Last year Digicel, the Irish mobile phone company that has swiftly revolutionised communications in PNG and the rest of the Pacific, launched free-to-air TV WAN, while Fijian broadcasting entrepreneur Richard Broadbridge introduced Click TV. Both employ some journalists, but their focus is principally entertainment. The government owns the PNG National Broadcasting Corporation, which was established in the tradition of the ABC’s operations in PNG during colonial days. It runs Kundu 2 TV, which has been the major current affairs rival to EM TV, and radio stations throughout the country.

The print market, in comparison, lacks direct government involvement. The daily national newspapers are the Post Courier, chiefly owned by News Corp, The National, owned by Sarawak-based Tiong Hiew-king, a Malaysian billionaire who also owns newspapers in Malaysia and Hong Kong and PNG logging giant Rimbunan Hijau.The major Christian denominations, led by the Catholic Church, own the weekly Wantok, the only newspaper in Tok Pisin, the most spoken language. Newcomer to print is credit business millionaire Wesley Raminai, who, like prime minister Peter O’Neill, comes from the Southern Highlands. He has launched the Sunday and Midweek Chronicle. Raminai appears to be positioning his papers to go daily before the election. The government has meanwhile sought to clamp down on PNG’s rampantly critical and often highly defamatory social media – or to shift its culture. But it has so far been mostly frustrated in such attempts.

Hopeful start for Vulnerable Children

Post Courier 10th February, 2015

A man taking care of homeless children predicts bigger problems for Papua New Guinea if these children are not cared for today. Collin Pake said this when thanking individuals and business houses that responded to his call for help. About K35, 000 was raised in the past week through cash and kind to put 40 vulnerable children to school. His appeal was made through an article on our front page two weeks ago. By this week, the children are in school.”You people have indeed put a smile on their faces,’’ Mr Pake said. He said a better life for these children has begun at the Life PNG Care’s Strongim Pikinini Education program, which is helping to sustain the needs of these children and ensure they complete their education one day. “If we don’t do anything to help these displaced, orphans and homeless street children, our nation will have a big problem later. The number of this group of children has increased dramatically. They are spreading like an epidemic in the urban cities and towns of our nation. We have to do something to help this generation. If we don’t act now, we must not expect a better future.’’ Mr Pake said. He said without the support he had received, he would not have put the 40 children to school. Of the 40 children, 22 live with the Pake family at their home in Gerehu where they are fed, clothed and provided basic necessities, while the other 18 live with their relatives with an arrangement in place to see that they are supported by LPC.

New law holds hope for city street kids

Post Courier, February 16,2015, 03:06 am

THE proposed Lukautim Piknini Act will empower welfare officers to remove children from beginning in the streets. Minister for Religion, Youth and Community Development Delilah Gore said this in Parliament on Friday. The legislation, to be put before Parliament during the next session, would see street children confined to shelters, sent to school and be wards of state until their parents and relatives are traced and the children reunited with them. National Capital District Governor Powes Parkop had expressed concern about the growing number of street kids in the city streets. Mr Parkop said although churches and non-government organisations had built shelters to deal with street kids, the Government did not have a firm policy on disadvantaged children. Outside Parliament, Ms Gore told the Post-Courier that one per cent of the population’s children begging on the streets of Port Moresby were genuine orphans while the rest were deliberately placed out there by parents to fend for themselves. “We have the Lukautim Pikinini Act which will give powers to welfare officers to get them and place them in partner zones/ shelters and then when we place them there we will be looking after them, sending them to school but they will be cared for while officers look for their parents,” she said.

“There was also a study on children downtown, street children down town, study revealed that 1 per cent of these street kids are orphans but most of them parents deliberately place them or send them to fend for themselves on the street.”

“I am hoping to pass the Act in the next Parliament sitting. It is already through to the Attorney-General’s office for certification, the NEC, then I will take it to Parliament.”

 

Costly tribal fight ends after 5 years, 22 deaths

Post Courier, February 16,2015, 03:05 am

A MAJOR tribal fight which has been raging since 2009 in Laiagam Enga Province has finally come to an end, thanks for the efforts of prominent sons of Laiagam, the Catholic Church, the provincial law and order directorate and the provincial police commander. The fighting between the Weia sub clan and Miok sub clan of the Makol tribe erupted in 2009 over a piece of land situated near the Talum DPI station in Laiagam, resulting in the loss of 22 lives, destruction of hundreds of homesteads and quite recently, the burning down of the Talum DPI station and primary school at Surunki worth millions of kina. Provincial police commander of Enga Superintendent George Kakas said the fighting had gone out of control with both sides resorting to sporadic guerilla and ambush tactics, which proved difficult for police to intervene and stop the fighting for more than five years. This was when a parish priest namely, father Koni Yombonokali from the Sikiro Catholic parish, with the help of other Catholic priests from the surrounding parishes, decided to intervene and bring peace to the two clans which had suffered much over the past years. They held continuous consultations and dialogue between the two warring clans over the past several weeks, stressing the need for peace and reconciliation. The final promise for peace was a culmination of a series of church organised mediations between these two volatile clans, which were finally convinced to see the futility of their ways and promised to never take up arms again. In a moving ceremony the two clans marched into Laiagam station, led by the Catholic Church congregations and singing groups, to effect the reconciliation between the two sides.

Supt Kakas urged both sides to bury their differences and work for lasting peace.

Prostitutes clash over territory

Post Courier, February 18, 2015,

PROSTITUTION in the country is on the rise, especially in major centres and already there is a call for the industry to be legalised. And sex workers in the nation’s capital, who have spoken to the Post-Courier, want the Government to recognise them, as they claim the Asian sex worker market is also increasing in PNG. It is “undercutting” their means of generating income and fending for themselves in the city, they claim. The statistics of the industry are not known, especially in the NCD, but there are about 22 locations which they operate from in the city – men and women included. In the other centres like Mount Hagen, East New Britain, Madang, New Ireland, Lae and the Autonomous Region of Bougainville where demand and statistics are known, they also operate on an ad hoc basis.

Minister for Religion, Youth and Community Development Delilah Gore said yesterday PNG was full of Christian churches which would go against decriminalisation of prostitution but added that, like everyone else, sex workers belonged in a society and that the Government was working on a social protection law that would also cover them. She did not elaborate.

Censorship office bans Fifty Shades of Grey

February 19,2015, 01:53 am

THE controversial film Fifty Shades of Grey has been refused classification by the Papua New Guinea Censorship office, which ultimately means it is not allowed to be shown in cinemas. The movie was planned to be screened at the Paradise Cinemas in Vision City and Central Waigani in Port Moresby last Friday, on the eve of Valentine’s Day. Deputy chief censor Jim Abani said yesterday they had made it known to the Paradise Cinemas yesterday that the movie was refused and had served them a notice of the decision concerning classification. “The movie has been refused after a panel of eight of our officers classified it on Monday on various reasons pertaining to the content of the movie,” Mr Abani said.The Censorship office refused classification of the movie for public consumption on the grounds that it:

  • Contained explicit sexual activities;
  • Had rolonged sex scenes;
  • Strong references to matters of sex;
  • Use of coarse language;
  • Provocative nudity with sexual suggestiveness; and;
  • Sexual elements were used.

“We have a problem in our society where young girls and women are offered money or gifts by wealthy men for sex and all that. We don’t want to promote the idea of wealthy businessmen using women for sexual favours because they have the money and resources at their expense to do so. We don’t want this movie to be shown to the public as it is degrading to women,” Mr Abani said

Policy to control population growth

Post Courier, February 19,2015, 01:52 am

PAPUA New Guinea’s population could reach 30 million by 2050 if the current growth continues, National Planning Minister Charles Abel said yesterday as he launched the national population policy 2015-24 in Parliament. He said the population had doubled in just 20 years, from 3.5 million to more than seven million. Concerns had been raised that given current trends, the population would double again within the next 20 years which places extra ordinary pressures on resources and public services such as health care and education. Mr Abel and development partners echoed concerns that without any intervention this trend would continue to 2050 when the population could reach 30 million.

He said the policy launched yesterday outlined the need for a greater understanding of the link between population growth and sustainable development.

“The policy will make an effort to reduce high risk fertility behaviour but continue to support these efforts within the context of reproductive health delivery. “Population size and structure impact a country’s economy as well as its ability to provide social protections and access to health care, education, housing, sanitation, water, food and energy.

Mr Abel called for all to be responsible when it came to population by providing solutions through sustainable programs such the responsible sustainable development strategy that captured the improvement of reproductive health and voluntary family planning efforts. With technical and financial support from the UNFPA, the third official population policy gives a strong emphasis on population as key development priority, with population as centre of development, furthermore stresses the importance of closing gaps of high mortality rates, the Minister noted.

Photo book, film on gender violence launched

Feb 18, 2015 PNG Loop

A photo book and film addressing gender-based violence has been launched.

The book titled Powerful voices and film Harim Mi was launched by one of Strongim Pipol Strongim Nesen (SPSN) partners. The launching took place today at the Paradise Cinema in Port Moresby.

The book and film were assembled from testimonials and images captured by 49 women from 10 communities throughout Western Highlands and West Sepik provinces. This is the culmination of a major initiative called Komuniti Lukautim Ol Meri (KLOM), managed by FHI360. The project is being coordinated with support from Australian Government with A$2.8 million (K5.45m) through Strongim Pipol Strongim Nesen. The Australian High Commissioner Deborah Stokes and Prime Minister Peter O’Neill’s  wife, Lynda Babao O’Neill, launched the productions. See more at: http://www.pngloop.com/2015/02/18/photo-book-film-gender-violence-launched/#sthash.GuOFFOlZ.dpuf

Church effects child protection policy

Post Courier, February 25,2015, 02:26 am

THE Catholic Church will implement its own child protection policy relevant to areas of its operations in Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands. This church announcement comes after the launch of its child protection policy by Minister for Religion, Youth and Community Development Delilah Gore and church representatives in Port Moresby yesterday. The document, “For the Care, Wellbeing and Protection of Children”, is a policy on keeping children safe within the institution of the Catholic Church of PNG and the Solomon Islands. It outlines the responsibilities and expected behaviour necessary to keep children safe while in the church’s care. The policy captures relevant PNG laws and polices relating to child protection and recognises the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The foundation document of this policy was planned and prepared by human rights lawyer Paul Harricknen and leaders within the church. The policy provides a code of behaviour for all who work with children in the church such as clergy, religious, pastoral agents, church workers including ministers, teachers and medical staff. Ms Gore said churches were bigger partners in the development agenda and the Government had partnered strategically with the churches, especially in the areas of health and education through funding support. She commended the Catholic Church and Lahara Birdwing School, the venue where the policy was launched. The school also has its own school policy on child protection.Ms Gore encouraged other churches to come up with such policies.

Is PNG heading for a crisis?

http://www.eastasiaforum.org/2015/02/22/is-png-heading-for-a-crisis/

Stephen Howes, 22 Feb 2015

Last year in Papua New Guinea was eventful, marked by a series of controversial government decisions. In March, the government decided to take out a loan of about 3 billion kina (US$1.2 billion, about 8 per cent of GDP) to buy shares in Oil Search. The decision divided the government, and the treasurer was sacked for his opposition to it. Questions over the legality of the decision have led to the Prime Minister Peter O’Neill’s being referred to a leadership tribunal, a mechanism to deal with accusations of corrupt or illegal conduct by the country’s members of parliament. The prime minister is currently challenging that referral in the courts.

In June, the PNG central bank appreciated the kina against the US dollar by 15 per cent. Since then the kina has only been allowed to depreciate modestly. Appreciation of the kina at a time of falling commodity prices makes little sense.

Also in June, the prime minister disbanded Taskforce Sweep, the anti-corruption body he himself had created just a couple of years ago, because it levelled charges of corruption against him. Along the way, the prime minister also sacked or suspended a deputy police commissioner and the acting public prosecutor. He continues to fight in the courts the issuance of an arrest warrant consequent to the recommendations of Taskforce Sweep.

In October, the PNG central bank indicated that it would act as a buyer of last resort for government bonds, a risky move in the direction of printing money.

And then in November, the government brought down a budget which was more restrained on the expenditure side than those seen in recent years, but which failed to lay out a credible fiscal adjustment path to bring down high deficits and rising debt.

One positive development in 2014 was the resurrection of legislation to establish a sovereign wealth fund, progress towards which had been delayed for the past two years. Unfortunately, however, the need for a sovereign wealth fund in this resource cycle seems to have disappeared with the collapse of oil prices. … At first the government responded to Flanagan’s analysis with the counter-claim that LNG prices were in fact fixed by contract. Since then, however, it has acknowledged the severity of the problem, with the most recent statement by Prime Minister O’Neill indicating that the impact of the oil price fall should ‘not be underestimated’ and that ‘hard decisions’ may be needed. …

If politics gets in the way — and if the exchange rate is not allowed to fall, and expenditure is not cut — then PNG’s economic problems will worsen. Reports of foreign exchange rationing and government cash flow problems will intensify. In the medium term, we could see the emergence of high interest rates and inflation, and the depletion of PNG’s foreign exchange reserves.

In sum, this year will either be a year for tough decisions in PNG, or it will be a year of descent towards crisis. A recovery of oil prices is an unlikely way out. Politics will tell which way the country turns.

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Social Concerns Notes – January 2015

PNG’s ‘paradox of plenty’ outlined in UN report

http://www.massey.ac.nz/massey/about-massey/news/article.cfm?mnarticle_uuid=B66733E8-CE19-295B-6262-30E52AF133FE

Transferring massive mining industry profits into improving the health, education and wellbeing of a struggling population is a key challenge for Papua New Guinea, says the author of a new UN report.

Glenn Banks, an associate professor in Development Studies in Massey University’s School of People, Environment and Planning, was lead author of the Papua New Guinea National Human Development Report 2014: From Wealth to Wellbeing: Translating Resource Revenue into Sustainable Human Development, for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

In it, he identifies the “paradox of plenty” and the “resource curse” as a features of the PNG economy, which is leading the world in economic growth rates with predictions it will increase by 20 per cent next year. Meanwhile, nearly half the population is living at or below a ‘basic needs’ poverty line.

The report reviews the state of human development in Papua New Guinea in terms of the three pillars of sustainable development – economic, social and environmental. It examines the ways in which the extractive industries have contributed – positively and negatively – to these related but distinct pillars.

“While there have been some measurable achievements in terms of improvements in human development (increases in life expectancy, per capita income and educational achievement), many of the indicators are less positive,” the report states. “Despite 14 consecutive years of economic growth, there has been little change in poverty levels in the country. In fact, the level of inequality in the country has increased.”

Dr Banks, who been closely involved with the Pacific nation for more than two decades as a development researcher, says the 109-page report highlights the significant opportunities from an economic boom based on the mining of gold, silver, copper, cobalt, nickel, crude petroleum and natural gas.

Mining and oil production has reaped US$60 billion since independence 40 years ago. But 40 per cent of PNG’s seven million mostly rural population – scattered in rugged, jungle territory across 600 islands and where more than 800 languages are spoken – live on less than a dollar a day. In other key indicators, 25 per cent of children do not attend any form of schooling, and PNG ranks in the bottom 10 countries for gender equality, with two out of three women having experienced gender-based violence over their lifetime. While large scale mine and oil production has underpinned a number of health and education developments, it has also “sparked civil strife, caused massive environmental damage, arguably distorted the economy, and brought about a range of negative impacts on communities,” according to the report.

Read the full UN report here. http://hdr.undp.org/sites/default/files/final_png_nhdr.pdf Report

Tuna dwindling in pacific waters

Post Courier, January 07, 2015

As 2015 begins, the issue of managing the Pacific’s dwindling tuna stocks remains at the top of the agenda for many countries, especially Papua New Guinea. The general consensus is that no substantial progress was made at the meeting of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries in Samoa late last year which has resulted in little to no improvement in the dire situation of dwindling tuna populations in Pacific waters. The Pacific Islands Tuna Industry Association has even gone so far as to suggest the commission doesn’t have the confidence of its members to manage the Pacific’s tuna fisheries, in other words, the foremost authority on the tuna industry says the situation is uncontrollable.

Obstacles keep doctors from rural postings

Post Courier 29 December 2014

Significant obstacles stopping doctors being posted to rural areas include law and order, poor housing, rundown facilities, lack of appropriate education, training and opportunities in PNG, says a university academic and medical doctor. Dr David Mills, University of Papua New Guinea academic and president of the PNG Society of Rural and Remote Health, said in a recent presentation that these factors are also faced in urban areas around the country. He said the experience in PNG suggests that there are also other factors, such as the fear of missing out on specialist training places and poor communications (and especially lack of access to the internet). The very low number of doctors being trained each year (currently less than 50) also means that rural job opportunities can often be ignored in favour of more attractive options in town, Dr Mills said. He recommended that the Government makes a decision that health services in PNG must be developed in an equitable fashion. “It is immoral to put millions of kina into developing expensive hospitals in cities while closing aid posts and starving basic rural health services,” he said. “The health kina is finite. It must be divided in an equitable manner – no one human being is of more value than another. “We need to reverse the devastating change in medical culture that has occurred in PNG, bringing the balance back between rural general practice and town specialist and private practice,” said Dr. Mills.

 

Witchcraft allegations creating refugee crisis, government officials say

Post Courier, January 06, 2015

Story courtesy of ABC Radio Australia: Witchcraft allegations  have forced so many women to flee their villages in Enga province that one local government worker said that it is creating a refugee problem. The latest reports were about four women and 13 children in danger after being identified as witches in the Hewa language area of Enga province. A Lutheran missionary up in the Highlands, Anton Lutz, said he knew of at least 25 women killed over the past 10 years after being accused of sorcery in the region, with no arrests being made. The women fled to a location so remote it would take a flight and a three-day hike to reach. Ruth Kissam, a youth coordinator for the Western Highlands provincial government, said some groups were trying to send help. “I believe the churches are coming together on this, trying to send teams in, but the [police] response to me was they do not have funding to be able to go in,” she said. Ms Kissam said the police and government had to step in to deal with what she insisted was a national crisis. “This place is very isolated and there is no police presence in the area – they have a council, but the council are also local people from the area who believe in witches and all that, so basically you wouldn’t have any people on the ground that would be impartial.” She said local authorities needed support from the national government. “They aren’t able to do anything right now. Unless they are able to get something, try to get the commissioner and the people higher up to respond to this as a matter of national urgency.” Witchcraft allegations are forcing so many women to flee their villages in the country that one local government official says it is creating a refugee problem. Ms Kissam said the belief in sorcery and witchcraft was spreading and destroying communities and that many people were fleeing their villages, something “totally unheard of” in their culture. “There are lots of people right now within the Hewa-speaking region, [fleeing their villages] … simply because of accusations and they know they will be killed. “So in a way, you have sanguma [sorcery] refugees.” Ms Kissam said the belief in witches and sorcery was spreading across the country. “The worst thing is new beliefs are popping up – in places like Enga province, which is now quite a hotspot. “The [belief in witches] had never been there before, but now they’re becoming some of the worst perpetrators right across the country,” she said, adding that they were responsible for killing Kepari Leniata in February 2013. “Most of the targeted women are people with no male relatives to stand up for them or people living on fringes of society.”

Sorcery culture spreads in Enga

Post Courier, January 12, 2015

SORCERY or witchcraft, once unknown in Enga Province, is spreading like wildfire into all the districts of the province, targeting women, especially widows, and children are the cause.

In the past generations, Engans solve their problems through dialogue or open physical confrontation, not through witchcraft, or sanguma, as has been the growing trend in recent times. Sorcery has now become a big law and order problem, Enga’s police commander George Kakas said at the weekend, adding there was an increase in the number of Engans being branded sorcerers, accused of deaths which have occurred naturally or through accidents. Acting Superintendent Kakas said the “sorcerers” were mainly poor middle-aged or widowed women and their children who could not fend for themselves. “In recent cases in Wabag district alone, I had to personally intervene with my men to save six women and a child who were on the verge of being burnt alive on a pyre, tortured to death or drowned in the river,” he said. “In all these instances, all the accused were accused of stealing the hearts of their victims while they are still alive, causing them to die. “The latest incident was in Lakemanda village (my maternal village) in Wabag where a woman and her child were accused of stealing the heart of a grade 10 student who had fallen off a Pandanus tree and was impaled on a sharp coffee tree stump,” he said. Supt Kakas has appealed to Engans not to allow the imported belief of sorcery, or sanguma, to wreak havoc on the social fabrics of a sorcery-free tradition of the Engan culture that was handed down from generation to generation. “How could simple village women and children take out a heart of a living, breathing person, when this can only be performed by specialist heart surgeons in surgery in modern hospitals in developed countries? “I urge them to go to church and believe in the good Lord above and they will find their answers there and not in some concocted abomination created from the figment of one’s imagination or from some foreign and evil culture,” Supt Kakas said. The provincial police chief also warned that those involved in kangaroo courts and extra-judiciary killings over sorcery claims would face the full force of the law.

Witchcraft killings in Papua New Guinea to be condemned at community meeting

Post Courier, January 15, 2015   Story Courtesy of ABC radio Australia

Church and community leaders from Papua New Guinea have organised a meeting this weekend with locals from the Hewa language area, in a remote part of Enga province, in an attempt to stop the killing of people accused of witchcraft. A group of nine people from the nearby Wanakipa settlement, decided to hold the discussions after four women were accused of sorcery. However, the witch finder or glass-man who made the claims has since retracted them and said she was pressured to make the allegations. A Lutheran missionary in the Highlands, Anton Lutz who has helped organise the meeting, told Pacific Beat the meeting would hopefully encourage people to come to the realisation that killing alleged witches was wrong. He said organisers hoped the talks would culminate with a ceremony where arrows used to kill alleged witches would be broken. “It would involve breaking the arrows, which are being used to kill people, and giving a gift of arrows to the other group of arrows that are used to hunt animals for food,” he said. “So giving up a way of accusations of murder, in favour of a life of peace.” Mr Lutz said the witch finder who retracted the accusations she made against four women has agreed to be filmed saying she was wrong and this will be used at the community forum. “She is willing and ready to take back her accusations and tell everyone openly how she was pressured into making those accusations and that they are in fact baseless and have no grounds whatsoever,” he said. “So she is going to be making that statement on camera, and we are going to show that to the community where she made the accusations.”

PNG women accused of witchcraft freed ABC news

By Bruce Hill, ABC News, Tue 20 Jan 2015

Women were accused of practising sorcery (or ‘sanguma’), after a measles epidemic killed several people in Enga province last year. They and their children were in danger of being murdered, but an expedition into a remote area of the province by missionaries and police has led to local people formally renouncing such violence. Enga province’s police deputy commander Epenes Nili said a so-called “witch-finder”, who had made the allegations against the women, publicly withdrew them.

“She was hired [by locals] with 6,000 kina (approximately $2,800),” he said. “The people from that area gathered around and forced her to tell them that the four women [had] ‘sanguma’. “Because of the money and gifts and all that, she lied to the people of Fiyawena that the four women were possessed with this ‘sanguma’ spirit.” They kept the women and their children in a guarded area, ready to be murdered, he added. Deputy commander Nili also said the local people released the women and formally renounced such violence in a stone-turning ceremony.”We witnessed a ceremony there … then they get a stone and [they] have to turn over that stone – that is an indication or sign that you will never repeat, or you will never be involved in such activity,” deputy commander Nili told Radio Australia’s Pacific Beat.

The “witch-finder” also participated in the ceremony. “She turned a stone around, informing the authorities, the church, everyone of us that she will not [get] involved in that thing again and she accepted the word of God,” deputy commander Nili said. Church leaders in PNG have been fighting against the belief in sorcery for years. Arnold Orowae, the Catholic bishop of Wabag, went so far as to threaten any Catholic involved in violence against accused witches with excommunication.

“This shouldn’t happen — we’re not in the times before … we shouldn’t be accusing and torturing or even killing people. “I’m not happy hearing about this torturing of innocent, defenceless [people], especially women.”

Bishop sends out distress call for Goilala

Post Courier, January 14, 2015

VARIOUS arms of government have been urged to take the lead in assisting remote communities in the mountainous district of Goilala in Central Province. This cry for assistance was made yesterday by the Catholic Bishop of Bereina Rochus Tatamai. Bishop Rochus said basic services such as health, education and pastoral presence were needed in these areas. Missionaries, public servants as well as ordinary people have died over the years while trying to provide services to the people up in the mountains while travelling on light planes. “There is no other way around for places like Guari-Kamulai, Fane, Ononghe, Jongai and Kerau, but through flying into the mountains on small planes,” the Bishop said. Bishop Rochus raised his concern following the plane crash in September last year that killed four people and left five others injured. The aircraft was on charter to the church with much needed supplies for Goilala and was returning to Port Moresby when it crashed in bad weather. He said while the Church was present in the Goilala area, it was not capable of delivering all the needed services due to limited resources and the geographical circumstances of the area. “Priests, teachers and health workers can only do so much and they can only cope with so much for so long. “Adding that political will and leadership as well as commitment and action were needed in the electorate so that people from these remote parts would feel they were included in national development. “It is for this reason that we are calling upon the various arms of government to take the lead and we will surely complement,” he said. The Bishop’s call comes as the official Vatican News Network announced at the weekend that the Vatican took note of murders last May of Father Jerry Inau and communion minister Benedict in the Goilala mountains of Kamulai as the result of inter-tribal tensions. It reported the Vatican noting that the killers had not been caught and brought to justice.

Forgotten report: Taskforce Sweep’s recommendations for reducing corruption in PNG

DevPolicy Blog.   By Grant Walton on December 17, 2014

In October this year, Papua New Guinea’s Taskforce Sweep released the findings of its investigation into inadequacies of oversight of key government departments. During his recent visit I asked Sam Koim, head of Taskforce Sweep, to nominate the most important recommendation of the report. Without hesitation he said that PNG’s banking sector needed the most amount of attention.

He said: Fraud and money laundering is occurring because the banks are allowing it. If you regulate the banking industry properly, corruption would not occur as easily. In the report Koim calls for commercial banks to take a proactive stance in reporting suspicious activity and closing accounts. He suggests that PNG’s Proceeds of Crime Act (2005) [pdf] should include guidelines for financial institutions to conduct due diligence on transactions relating to court judgements and legal fees – a source of alleged large-scale corruption in PNG.

Koim was also concerned about the Central Bank of PNG – known as the Bank of Papua New Guinea (BPNG). His investigation found that suspicious payments by the Department of Finance were cleared by BPNG, without due diligence. The introduction of an electronic transfer system in October 2013 has reduced the likelihood of BPNG officials checking payments. He therefore calls for BPNG to establish an anti-money laundering division, and for BPNG to work with the country’s Financial Intelligence Unit to review its newly established electronic payment system.

There has been little response by the government to the report. In fact, given that Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has been implicated in accusations of corruption related to the payment of legal fees, and that he has ordered Taskforce Sweep be disbanded, it’s likely the government would prefer the report be forgotten. All the more reason to click on this link [pdf], and download it.

Disabled remain isolated

The National, 12th Jan, 2015

People living with disabilities in the country continue to be ostracised by society. Rehabilitation Centre chairman Brown Kapi says. Kapi is confined to a wheelchair but continues to host the popular “Wheels for change” programme on Kundu 2. Last Saturday, he received food and other items worth more than K13,000 from members of the PNG Methodist Church.“In most cases, people with disabilities are not educated, they are not sent to school simply because they are disabled,” he said. “In PNG culture, people think that this is a curse or something, and they hold them back. “You’ll find that most people with disabilities are illiterate, they can’t read or write, and therefore are very limited.”Kapi said the work of the centre was giving hope to the disabled.“Today, the Government and people are seeing that despite their disabilities, they are human beings,” he said.“They can go to school, they can do business, they can get married, they can do other things. “It’s slowly happening. People like me are trying to push that agenda.“We are Papua New Guineans, we have a right, and you are obligated to us. That’s what we are saying.”Kapi thanked the church members for their assistance.“When you come in like this and support us, you are making others see that churches like the Methodists are extending the love of God to people with disabilities,” he said.“This is the first donation for this year. This is the biggest donation in kind so far.”He said the items would be shared by disabled people in the National Capital District.

Hospital crippled as nurses contract drug resistant TB

Post Courier, January 20, 2015

NINE nurses at Daru General Hospital in Western Province have contracted the multi-drug resistant strain of tuberculosis, forcing the rest of the hospital staff to stage a sit-in protest yesterday for better protection at work. One nursing officer is on extreme drug resistance treatment for the strain of the disease, which poses a greater risk to life and is currently out of control. The hospital’s executive officer Colin Ananga, who spoke on behalf of the acting chief medical officer Dr Naomi Pomat, said the other eight nurses were currently on the multi-drug-resistant (MDR) treatment. As the disease paralysed services at the hospital yesterday, the remaining hospital staff protested, supporting widespread fear on the island that the TB epidemic, rampant in the province, will spread among the hospital workers. The Health Department had declared Western Province, including Daru, a hotspot for TB together with neighbouring Gulf, the National Capital District, and parts of Central Province.

Australia and the World Health Organisation would be equally concerned about developments in Daru as they spent millions of kina to upgrade the hospital’s TB ward to treat the disease and in a bid to stop patients from travelling to Queensland to seek treatment. The protesting workers called on provincial leaders, stakeholders and members of the public to be aware that Western Province was a leading hot spot for TB in the country. People classified as MDR patients are second-stage sufferers who are bound for a 24-month-long treatment which is expensive.

Family, Sexual Violence Rate High

The National, 13th Jan, 2015

Studies have shown that the rate of family and sexual violence in the country is high, according to a humanitarian organisation. Medecins sans Frontiers (MSF) or Doctors Without Borders is an international humanitarian medical organisation. MSF head of mission Elisabeth Bijtelaar said the organisation began providing medical services for survivors of family sexual violence, general violence, emergency medical care and tuberculosis service in Kerema, Gulf. She said the progress achieved in recent years had been positive. But there were still problems to be addressed. “MSF first started in PNG in the 1990s, and currently in partnership with Health Department structures in Tari, Southern Highlands, Port Moresby, Maprik in East Sepik, Kerema in Gulf and Alotau in Milne Bay, to provide care to a wide range of patients,” she said. She said in recent years, PNG had taken promising steps towards an effective response to family and sexual violence. However, more was needed to provide victims access to quality confidential medical and psychosocial care as well as the legal, social and protective services they needed.

Widow tells of struggle to give children education

The National, Monday January 19th, 2015

WITH school starting soon, there are still many, who will struggle to send their children to school even with the free education policy. Bea Miring is one such person. Miring is a widow who lives at Badili, Port Moresby. She sells cucumber and peanut on the roadside markets to support her son and two grandsons’ schooling. Miring is from Goroka and her late husband is from Morobe, who died in the late 1990s. A week after her husband’s death, her daughter died from AIDS, and her husband died a month later. Her daughter and husband left behind two little boys Gatos and Brendon Benny, who she raised. Miring’s only income is what she makes from roadside markets. Miring said: “I will pay the project fees for my three boys from the market savings but I am unsure of how or where I will get the money to buy their uniforms. “First they used to wear slippers to school but because the school sends them back I have to struggle to find money to buy their shoes as well for this year.” She said she wants three of her boys to go to school. Miring was recently arrested by police officers for selling mustard that she harvested in her backyard but was released when police heard that she just wanted to make money to feed her son and grandsons. She said: “I knew it was wrong for me to sell mustard as there was buai ban, but we had not eaten for two days. School is starting soon and I had to make an income. So I harvested the mustard from my backyard and went down to the market to sell them when I was arrested.” “It is only by God’s grace that my boys and me have come this far.” Her son and one of her grandsons will be doing Grade 8 this year, while the other grandson will be in Grade 10.

Settlement people face water problems due to dry season

The National, Monday January 19th, 2015

PEOPLE in Lae living in settlements and certain parts of the city are facing water problems because of the dry season. They depend mostly on rainwater and water from nearby streams for their daily use.

Those affected are residents living along the Miles section, Malahang Back Road along the Assmambu market to Situm,  Bundi Camp, Naweab settlement and Kamkumung settlement. Lae has been experiencing dry weather in the past three months. Some of the residents are relying on relatives and friends who have water supply to provide them with water. Thomas Mua said his family had been helping a family living at Malahang Back Road by transporting three water tanks to their home.

“Most of the residents in settlements and locals along back road and Situm depend entirely on rainwater,” hesaid. “When it rains, families there are happy because it means water for them. They use nearby streams for washing and sanitation purposes. “But for drinking and cooking, they depend on rain water.” He said if families were forced to use the stream for sanitation, cooking and drinking, they would expose themselves to water-borne diseases.

Asylum seekers may come to Bomana

The National, Thursday January 22nd, 2015

MORE than 40 asylum seekers detained in jail or in police station cells on Manus may be transferred to Bomana prison outside Port Moresby, a Government source says. The asylum seekers were arrested after security personnel broke through barricades erected at the entrance to a cell block at the detention centre on Monday. The source said Correctional Service management was concerned about the transfer, given the security problem caused by the prisoners. But Foreign Affairs and Immigration Minister Rimbink Pato had already signed the instruments for the transfer last month. “The way I see it, 40 or 50 asylum seekers will be flown to Port Moresby,” he said. “This has caused concern among senior management at Correctional Service because of the security of our own prisoners. “They (asylum seekers) will be coming (to Bomana) this weekend, if not, next week.”The source said Pato, on Dec 15, 2014, signed instruments for Bomana Jail, Manus Jail, Manus police lock-up, and the Manus detention centre “to be relocation centres for the temporary residence of asylum seekers pending the determination of their refugee status under Papua New Guinea law”. “He (Pato) is empowered under the Immigration Act to make such declarations,” he said. Radio Australia reported yesterday that asylum seekers at the Manus detention centre had vowed to continue their hunger strike.

“Late on Monday, private security guards forced their way into a compound, which had been blockaded for three days,” ABC reported. “Asylum seekers say as long as they remain in PNG, they won’t stop protesting.”

Asylum seekers given option

The National, Wednesday January 21st, 2015

ASYLUM seekers on Manus who refuse to be re-settled in Papua New Guinea will be assisted to return to their country of origin, a Government official says. Chief Migration Officer Mataio Rabura said Australia had made it very clear to everyone that it would not accept any asylum seeker from the Manus regional processing centre to enter that country. Rabura was in Manus yesterday to resolve a protest staged by the asylum seekers who had been angry about the delay in the processing of their applications. Australia made a deal with Papua New Guinea to have the refugees processed at the Manus centre, and anyone eligible for resettlement will be offered the opportunity to do so in PNG.

“The Government has committed itself to combatting people smuggling, trafficking of persons and related transnational crime and entered into an agreement with Australia that it will play its part by processing and settling refugees in PNG,” Rabura said. He had earlier been directed by Prime Minister Peter O’Neill to assume leadership of the Manus facility from contractors. He was to execute his authority as designated administrator of the Manus centre to implement a plan to resolve the protest.

Immigration and Foreign Affairs Minister Rimbink Pato said after taking control of the situation, Rabura allowed security personnel to enter the compound and “assist any  who did not want to be there”. “A few agitators sought to prevent the removal of ill people but were restrained by security personnel,” Pato said.

Church takes up cause on asylum seekers

Post Courier, January 16, 2015

THE Catholic Bishops Conference has called on the Government to work closely with Australia to speed up the process of granting asylum to people at the regional processing centre on Manus Island.

The bishops made the call after 400 asylum seekers at the Australian-run centre went on a hunger strike and 15 men sewed their lips in protest to their treatment, as reported on ABC Radio this week.

“The hunger strike has to stop and normalcy must be returned to the asylum seekers centre. Their demands must be screened properly and looked into because they are human beings like you and me,” said John Ribat, the Archbishop of Port Moresby and deputy chairman of PNG Council of Churches.

He said the situation at Manus has been of concern, since the decisions were made by the two governments to bring the asylum seekers to PNG for processing. Archbishop Ribat said “PNG Government cannot just keep quiet and allow such situations to continue when it is its moral responsibility to take care of these people. “We also do not want the world to continue seeing us as an irresponsible and careless nation,” he said. He said the big questions were: Which country was in charge of the asylum seekers, and if PNG was, could it handle the situations. “We, the churches, are calling on the governments of PNG and Australia to do something about it. “We know that it is the Government’s responsibility but the churches also have a place in taking up responsibility and share their concerns about the situation,” he said. “Right now they are put in the situation where they are not free to make decisions themselves. They want freedom like all of us do.” “The process is taking years. Australia and PNG must speed up this process and allow them to live their own life,” he said.

Media statement by CBC on the protest by the Manus asylum seekers. 16 January, 2015

ABC Radio had the news on 14 January about the protest in the Offshore processing centre in Manus Island. “15 people have sewn their lips together and 400 men are on hunger strike”. They want their cases to be processed soon or handed over to the United Nations.

Australian Immigration Department has confirmed that the detainees were protesting.

The Catholic Bishops Conference is deeply concerned about the safety of the asylum seekers who are in the camps in Lorengau. They have been staying there for about 18 months without any trial. They are not criminals. They want the process to be speeded up.

The asylum seekers want to go to Australia and not to PNG. It is not good to keep them in PNG soil. PNG is responsible for their physical and mental well being.

The Catholic Church sought permission to meet the asylum seekers on a regular basis. But this was not granted by the Immigration authorities in Manus.

CBC wants the PNG government to work together with the Australian Government to speed up the process of granting asylum to the people. It is a humanitarian need.

The hunger strike has to be stopped and normalcy to be returned to the Asylum seekers centre. Their demands have to be screened properly and looked into. They are human beings. The responsibility is on the PNG Government to solve it with the help of the Australian Government. It is our moral responsibility. CBC calls on the Prime Minister to look into the issue before it gets out of control.

The disgrace of Australia’s Manus concentration camp continues

19 January 2015 asopa.typepad.com

HUNDREDS of inmates have gone on hunger strike at the Manus detention centre.  Some have attempted self-harm by sewing their lips together and swallowing detergent and razor blades.

At first the Australian government denied there were any such problems, but repeated reports have confirmed that the situation is extremely serious and the new minister Peter Dutton is “looking into the matter.” Another riot seems imminent. The Papua New Guinea government has just issued a statement denying that local police stormed the Manus Island detention centre. Fairfax Media reports that it was the emergency response team from Wilson Security who are sub-contractors to the Australian government. As the number of asylum seekers staging a hunger strike grows to over 500 and water has been cut off in parts of the facility, inmates are being forced to drink from drains. It is believed a number of asylum seekers have barricaded themselves inside their compounds as part of the protest.

PNG’s Immigration Minister, Rimbink Pato calls the refugee advocates “agitator groups” which doesn’t seem calculated to calm things down.  Refugee advocates have called for United Nations intervention. Reports state that a number of protesting asylum seekers were taken to the Chauka compound over the weekend (think ‘the cooler’ in The Great Escape), which is a smaller compound used to discipline asylum seekers acting aggressively. Inmates also claimed to have received death threats against those seeking to move to a half-way house in Lorengau.

You can read more reports about the situation here and here.

Vital HIV drugs not available for months

Post Courier, January 21, 2015

SUPPLIES of the two first-line drugs for antiretroviral therapy (ART) have run out and there is no indication they will be replenished soon. HIV advocate Maura Elaripe called on the media yesterday to find out why these drugs were no longer available and current users had been on alternate drugs and were developing serious side effects. She also said people on these drugs treatment should not be dying unnecessarily but recently there had been an increase in the deaths of people living with HIV. She did not give figures. “I don’t know what is happening. I am raising this alarm for the sake of those living in the provinces,’’ she said, adding that she gets her supply from Heduru Clinic at Port Moresby General Hospital but that clinic was out of stock. Jotely Nogone, Hope Worldwide’s HIV case officer at the Lawes Road Clinic, said that there are no Tenofovir and Lamivudine drugs supplies left in the country. “Yes, it is true, we can change the drugs but it is not easy. It could kill a patient,’’ said Ms Nogone. “We have been waiting for two months. We are lucky because we ordered extra,” she said in relation to the last order which was about three months ago. Ms Nogone, who prescribes HIV drugs as well as counsels people with HIV, said that due to ARV treatment, people were living longer, were healthier and lived normal lives, including getting married and having children who are HIV negative.

Countrywide, there are about 30,000 people on ARV treatment, of which 250 are from Lawes Road and 5000 are registered with Heduru clinic. Attempts to get comments from the Health Department have not been successful. Officers have referred comments to Health Secretary Pascoe Kase who is currently on leave.

Abuse of girls on the rise

The National, Thursday January 22nd, 2015

THERE is an increase in reported incidents of child abuse involving girls below 18, acting Juvenile Justice and Monitoring officer-in-charge Anna Wills says. She said on average, they are dealing with three to four cases each week. Wills said there could be more unreported cases. She said the police juvenile centre at Boroko had placed a number of children with the Welfare Office. They were the ones who turned up at the station or were found in the city, Wills said. These children have been subjected to parental or guardian neglect, abandoned or deserted as a result of broken marriages or abandonment, she said.  Wills said the children were picked up while sleeping in front of shops and offices and brought to the police station. Victims do not come forward to report these matters because they do not know where to go and what would happen to them,” she said. Wills urged victims to report such matters to the police juvenile centre at Boroko. She said some victims had already found out about the juvenile centre’s services and were starting to come forward. Will said the role of the juvenile centre was vital to correct such problems, which could have detrimental effects in their lives in future. “There is a lot of work to be done and more officers are needed,” she said.

Crowded jails blamed

The National, Thursday January 22nd, 2015

CORRECTIONAL Service Minister Jim Simatab has blamed the overcrowding in prisons for the increasing number of breakouts. He said overcrowding could be solved if the justice system dealt effectively and efficiently with the cases of remand prisoners. “Overcrowding in our jails is largely due to the ever increasing number of citizens held on remand. These people can often wait for more than three years in jail before their court cases are resolved,” he said. “Often they are not found guilty. Justice delayed is justice denied. They are in prison for a long time for  something they did not do.

“In the past five years, more than 80 per cent of escapees are those on remand. “Now you can fully appreciate why they take such risks. They have not been found guilty. So why labour around the prison?” he said. “To address this issue, the support and cooperation of the police prosecution and courts are needed to fast-track these cases.” Records show the total prison population in the country is 4622 – 2957 convicted prisoners and 1665 remanded in custody.

Support sought for widows sending children to school

The National, Thursday January 22nd, 2015

A HUMAN rights activist has called on the Government to address the issues of widows who are struggling to send children to school. Mathilda Pilacapio made the call in response to the story of a widow’s struggle to give her children education in The National. “How many mothers are out there with the same plight?” “Government must intervene and do something,” she said.

Pilacapio said one of her three boys may become a leader in the future and must be given a chance.

“Our Melanesian culture is based on sharing and caring. So we must help our children.” She said the current education is subsidised and not free. “Parents still have to pay project fees and buy uniforms and shoes and stationeries for their children,” Pilacapio said. “They would have to give them bus fares and lunch money.” She said the Government must step in and help the children, especially the disadvantaged so that they don’t miss out on education. “Every child has a right to be educated,” she said.

Solomon Islands PM embraces crooked Chinese company based in PNG

PNG exposed blog. January 22, 2015

Prime Minister Sogavara and China Habour GM in Honiara. A crooked Chinese company based in PNG is reaching out to the Solomon Islands government in search of new contracts. The General Manager of China Harbour Engineering Company recently met with the Solomon Islands Prime Minister, Manasseh Sogavare. Mr Sogavara, who described China Harbour Engineering as a ‘reputable’ company and ‘genuine investor’, seems unaware the firm has been blacklisted by the World Bank for fraud and condemned by the courts in Bangladesh and the government in Jamaica.

In case Mr Sogavara has not been properly briefed, here is a ‘greatest hits’ list that highlights China Harbour Engineering’s disconcerting record: China Harbour Engineering Company’s parent company, and all its subsidiaries (including its PNG subsidiaries), have been blacklisted until 12/1/2017 by the World Bank for all contracts related to roads and bridges, owing to “fraudulent practices” (Source: World Bank 2011). The courts in Bangladesh found that China Harbour Engineering Company paid bribes to the son of the Bangladeshi Prime Minister, who was then sentenced to six years in prison. (Source: The Hindu 2011). In 2012 an Audit was conducted by the Jamaican government into two major infrastructure projects, one of which was awarded to China Harbour Engineering Company. The Minister for Transport, Works and Housing claimed, “The report from the forensic auditor has unearthed wanton disregard for the conventions and procedures established by the Government of Jamaica for project implementation, administration and management. These breaches of existing procurement guidelines have drained precious budgetary resources and undermined the very foundation of public institutional integrity” (Source: Caribbean Analysis 2012). China Habour Engineering Company negotiated with the Cayman Islands Premier to build and run a major port facility. This deal was stopped, when the UK government blew the whistle over the procurement arrangements. Later it was revealed the process had been fast tracked by the Premier, in violation of legal process (Source: CayCompass 2013).

NGO gives city children chance in Education

The National, 20th January 2015

A group of 40 disadvantaged children from around Port Moresby under the care of “Life PNG Care” attended a back-to-school orientation last Saturday. They will return to school under the “Strongim Pikinini” programme of Life PNG Care, a non-government organisation established last year to help disadvantaged and vulnerable children. Life PNG Care national director Collin Pake said their mission was to help bring quality of life to children and better life choices. “Children are disadvantaged and vulnerable. Some are separated from their biological parents through many social factors like violence, poverty, family breakdown, sickness and death. We are trying to give these children the opportunity through our family home care, providing all the love and care that a child needs from parents,” he said. Last year, the NGO cared for 17 disadvantaged children. This year, the number has increased to 40. Pake said out of the 40, 20 would live with him, wife Freda and their two children Ruben, 3, and Josiah, 1. The other 20 will live with their relatives but will be paid regular visits and their education paid for. “We give these children all the care that we can so that they don’t feel abandoned or orphaned. That’s very important because these children need to know parental value as they will be mums and dads one day.”

Constructing a New Narrative on Infrastructure Development in PNG .

PNG Blogs 26 Jan.   An Essay by Gabriel Ramoi

Is Prime Minister ONeil, Treasurer Pruaitch & Minister Micah as leaders of the three biggest coalition partners in Government today capable of utilising the wealth generated from our extractive industries to provide cheap power, water & durable shelter for all our people? …Will this Government be able to harness the Power of the Purari or the Sepik River in a way that is environmentally sound and at the same time contribute in a positive way towards lifting our people out of poverty?

Some sobering Statistics on PNG and the MDG.

It is now official , 40% of our Population live on less then $1.25 a day ranking us 147 out of 189 of the worlds poorest nations and it is now confirmed that by all accounts PNG will failed to meet the world target in reducing poverty as definite in the Millennium Development Goal by end of September 2015 when the MDG ends. While the United Nations 2014 report on Human Development on the state of poverty in PNG has played down the issue of poverty in PNG, the CIA 2014 Fact Book on PNG on the other hand has been brutal in its country risk assessment on PNG describing our law and order situation as ‘ chronic’ with the potential of pushing the country off the edge and that the worsening law and order situation in the country is directly linked to poverty.

There is an urgent need for us in PNG to look seriously again at policy failures over the last 15year and to audit our policies in poverty alleviation particularly in our PIP infrastructure funding initiatives over that period and to not only investigate and bring to justice those that have misappropriated funds under these various failed PIP programs but to develop a new narrative on how to address poverty through the narrative of providing durable shelter, clean running water and electricity for all our people both urban and rural. Many PIP infrastructure projects appear in the development budget books but are never implemented. One PIP infrastructure project that stands out is the building of key arterial routes termed the missing link in our national road programs by the PNGDF with allocations of over 40million over a four year cycle with no roads to show for. Recently more funds have been given to the Army. It is now time for the PNGDF to account for these funds and to ensure that these roads are built and that the army is further mobilised into building micro power projects,water supply projects and help construct durable shelter for our village communities throughout PNG with new strategic partners to assist support the Army and to further harness the power of our youths and women organisations to reach this objective.

Let us not hold out to the belief that because of our geography we are destined to remain poor , we can harness nature to give us the best outcome and it requires political will to carry out this programs.

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Social Concerns Notes – December 2014

Hospital lost K380,000 after applying health policy

The National, Thursday November 27th, 2014

THE Nonga General Hospital in East New Britain has lost about K380,000 in revenue since the free and subsidised health care policy came into effect, hospital board chairman Nakikus Konga says. He figured the loss over a year during the launch of renovated building facilities at the hospital on Tuesday. Konga said Nonga, which served the province and New Guinea Islands region, was not being fairly allocated funds from the K20 million free health services subsidy this year. He said Nonga started to implement the new policy last year but this subsequently reduced the internal revenue for the hospital. He said the hospital management was forced to look into other financial sources to maintain and provide public health care to the people when medical fees were abolished as a result of the policy. “These funds have been released very late and I therefore urge the government to release these funds in a timely manner and re-look at the formula or criteria used to allocate these subsidies so that there is equal and fair allocation to each health facility,” Konga said.

Saved from jaws of death

THREE elderly women in Enga Province were rescued from the grips of certain death on Friday, accused of sorcery. Police intervened in a kangaroo court proceeding which would have condemned the trio to torture and likely burning at the stakes. The killings would have sparked another public outcry and global outrage, similar to that of 20-year-old Kepari Leniata who was stripped, tied up, doused in petrol and burned alive in Mt Hagen in February last year. The killing prompted Parliament to enact tougher penalties on sorcery-related killings. The three women, from Teremanda village, were being tortured at a creek following the death of a man whom the relatives claimed was killed through sorcery by the trio. They were tied, beaten and taken to a creek where they were forced into the water, where the villagers demanded the three admit their “guilt” and return the dead man’s heart which they claimed had been removed. A relative of the women alerted the provincial police commander, acting Superintendent George Kakas, who ordered a mobile squad to enter the village and rescue the three women. Wabag police station commander Inspector Epenes Nili led a force of three police vehicles to the village and managed to rescue the women who were about to be killed. However, the villagers blocked the road and threatened to harm the policemen unless the three were released. In a standoff lasting several hours, the police refused to release the women, saying it would be over their (policemen) dead bodies. The villagers finally relented, handing over the dead man for a post mortem.

Bishop Thanks PPC Of Wabag For Saving Women Accused Of Sorcery

http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2014/12/bishop-arnold-orowae-on-the-scourge-of-sorcery-in-png.html

On behalf of the Catholic Church in Enga Province and Papua New Guinea I would like to take this opportunity to thank you and your policemen. You confronted the people of Teremanda in the Enga Province and saved 3 defenseless women who were accused of sorcery or sanguma. You have rightly mentioned on December 1st Post Courier that the people of Enga knew no Sanguma or nor did they practice sorcery before. Where does this come from? It is either pure jealousy, or it is used as a means to accuse people for revenge. People are still ignorant and would not want to accept that people can die any time through sickness or damage done to their body. Even healthy people can die of sicknesses. The best place to seek an answer is from a postmortem at the hospital.

There are evidential reports from many parts of Papua New Guinea of sorcery or sanguma related accusations, tortures and killings. The accused are often women who are vulnerable and defenseless. People live and run around aimlessly and take pleasure in accusing, torturing and even killing them. No one is there to defend these defenseless women. It is saddening to hear and experience such brutal killings. In this age and time we cannot continue to act and behave like barbaric people who have no respect for life and kill to protect their territories.

We have laws of the country that govern us. We have the Christian faith that also determines our way of life in following Jesus: proclaiming his truth and living his life. Respect for life should be in the conscience of all people regardless of who that person is. Torturing and killing innocent and defenseless people is exactly like crucifying Jesus on Calvary for nothing. God has given us this life as a gift and we should respect it and only God can take it back. He does not give us the permission to take away the lives of others, even the unborn, the disabled, the criminals, the unwanted, the sick, and even those who have no cure, etc.

I encourage all our citizens not to get into this bad habit of accusing innocent and defenseless people of sorcery, resulting in torturing and killing. This is a moral evil that should not be practiced. It also gives a bad image of this country and its people. We are seen and regarded by many as a good and warm hearted people living in this part of the world. So let’s promote the good side of our lives and Country and do away with the bad practices.

Bishop Arnold Orowae

President, Catholic Bishops Conference

Girls, 10, selling sex

The National, Wednesday December 3rd, 2014

A REPORT on child labour in the country says children entered the sex trade from as young as 10 years. The report is on the rapid assessment in Port Moresby on commercial sexual exploitation of children and children working on the streets based on a survey conducted between Dec 2010 and Jan 2011 by the University of South Pacific, National Research Institute and the Young Women’s Christian Association. A total 175 children participated and 161 of them were interviewed using questionnaires. Most of the children interviewed were 17 years old, the youngest was 12 and 90% of the children interviewed were young girls. “The most common age at which children entered sex work was 15 years (34%) but some of the children entered into commercial sexual exploitation from as young as 10years of age,” the report said. “Forty-one per cent of the children were sex workers before the age of 15, which indicates that children enter the sex trade from a very young age.” In terms of their residences; 61% lived with their families, 20% on their own and 7% with their friends. The most common reason for leaving their original residential areas was because of family problems. The survey found that some children were living in guest houses and operating as sex workers.

Judge upset over lack of help

Post Courier, December 05, 2014

JUSTICE Stephen Kassman has expressed disappointment over the lack of co-operation by the general public in Western Highlands and Jiwaka and leaders of two Highlands provinces in coming forward with information into the death of Leniata Kepari. Kepari, 20, was tortured, stripped, doused with petrol and burnt alive in Mt Hagen early last year after being accused of sorcery.

Justice Kassman, who initiated this case as human rights inquiry in the National Court in Mt Hagen, said yesterday the case of February 7, 2013, was a matter of public concern, which sparked outrage within and at international fronts yet people, including lawyers, were not coming forward with information to assist in the inquiry he had set up.

He said he had not set up this enquiry to prosecute or assert liability on anyone. “This proceeding I set up is to enforce the rights of people provided for in the Constitution, including the late Leniata Kepari,” the judge said. Justice Kassman convened the inquiry at the Waigani National Court at 1:30 pm yesterday, expecting individuals and organisations, especially leaders and lawyers from Western Highlands and Enga provinces, to come with any information that may assist the inquiry but to no avail. Only two organisations turned up at the inquiry yesterday and provided statements and reports.

They are United Nations Human Rights Office in Port Moresby and the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands.

UN Report: Poverty in PNG Unchanged

PNGLOOP, Dec 2nd, 2014

Despite the economic growth, PNG is unlikely to meet any of the Millennium Development Goals, a UNDP report has revealed. The report revealed that poverty levels in the country have stayed virtually the same as in 1996. Health, education, literacy and other human development indicators remain poor (and worse for women and girls in virtually every sphere) and while Papua New Guinea still has significant forestry, marine and other environmental resources – these are under threat. This report addresses a question of importance for the country – how to use the significant wealth from the extractives industries (oil, gas and mining) and translate this into meaningful human development for citizens across the country? The report also notes that Papua New Guinea has experienced 14 years of consecutive economic growth – something very few countries have experienced. “But now we are seeing what is known as a ‘paradox of plenty’– a situation where the country’s resource wealth is not effectively translated into increased opportunities and capabilities for citizens. “This is especially apparent for the large majority in rural areas, and particularly for vulnerable and marginalised segments of society, including women, children, elderly, youth, people suffering from long-term illnesses, and those living with disabilities. In 2013 the country was 156th out of 187 countries on the Global Human Development Index (HDI).The report said that although the Government’s Vision 2050 document stated that PNG aims to be in the top 50 of the HDI by the year 2050 – it is hard to have confidence that the country will achieve this given the past track record. The Report “2014 National Human Development Report for Papua New Guinea’’ was launched last week in Port Moresby.

Partnership Key to People’s Wellbeing

The National, Dec 1st, 2014

The partnership between the Government and development agencies is the key to improving the wellbeing of the people, United Nations Development Programme resident representative Roy Trivedy said during the launching of the 2014 National Human Development Report in Port Moresby last week. The report said wealth from extractive industries had the potential to boost the wellbeing of people. But the country’s development could be undermined if resources were not used in economically, socially and environmentally sustainable ways. It stated that almost 40% of the country’s population continued to live on less than one dollar per day despite strong economic growth as a result of extractive industries such as oil, gas and mining.

It stated that 25% of children were not attending schools.

Two out three women and girls experienced gender-based violence.

The report focused around four pillars:

Good governance and accountability;

People centred exploration and extraction;

Prudent revenue collection and management; and,

Investment in human, physical, financial and social capital.

Trivedy said progress was made by the actions that were taken. He said these actions would come not only from Government but from partners and citizens in a holistic approach. “The country is starting to grow on the back of policies but at the moment PNG is ranked 156 out 187 (countries) and it has a long way to go,” he said.

Corruption in Public Office Biggest Challenge: TI

PNGLOOP, Dec 4th, 2014

Corruption in the public sector remains one of the biggest challenges in the country despite PNG having some of the best rules and laws in the world. Chairman of Transparency International PNG Lawrence Stephens says the biggest problem we continue to face is the lack of the enforcement of these laws. As TIPNG released its 2014 Corruption Perception Index, he says there is little to no accountability by those who fail to follow the rule of law in dealing with State assets and decisions.

“The public sector corruption threatens to undermine national development incentives and each year when the Corruption Perception Index is released, we hear objectives to the PNG score and ranking.”

Stephens went on to say that even statistics from TI PNG’s corruption complaints desk confirms that corruption within the public sector remains one of PNG’s biggest challenges. This sees complaints to TIPNG particularly in the areas of public procurement and administration, land and property, political parties, police and justice systems. “Change will occur when public institutions are more open about their work and officials more transparent in their decision making,” he says.

PNG among most corrupt countries

Post Courier, December 04, 2014

PAPUA New Guinea continues to be perceived as one of the worlds most corrupt countries, according to Transparency International’s 2014 Corruption Perception Index (CPI). The CPI report revealed that abuse of power, secret dealings and bribery continue to destroy sustainable development. PNG scored 25 out of 100 for the third consecutive year with 100 perceived as “very clean” and zero perceived to be “highly corrupt”. This means PNG was well below the world average of 43 and was ranked 145 out of the 175 countries surveyed.

The CPI is a combination of data collected by 12 reputable organisations and reflects the views of observers from around the world, including experts living and working in the countries evaluated.

TIPNG chairman Lawrence Stephens said at the report launching in Port Moresby yesterday that the 2014 CPI report presented another challenge to the country. Mr Stephens stated that PNG has some of the best rules and laws in the world but the biggest problem continues to be the lack of proper enforcement of the law.

Corruption hinders growth: Archbishop

The National, Wednesday December 10th, 2014

CORRUPTION is still the killer disease which is hindering well-intended developments in PNG, the Catholic Diocese of Port Moresby Archbishop John Ribat says. Referring to Transparency International PNG’s report on the level of corruption in the country, Ribat said many things were happening for the benefit of the nation, but the country needed a good mechanism to make sure that corrupt practices and behaviour did not stop or destroy good planning and budgeting by the government. Ribat said the only way to put a stop to the corrupt practices and behaviour was for every individual to be honest with oneself in whatever they did. Ribat said people must start to promote good values like respect, honesty, unity and common good for the nation and its citizen to see a drop in the level of corruption taking place.

The challenges of fighting corruption in Papua New Guinea

Sam Koim | Devpolicy Blog

MY story is not unique. Stories like mine are unfortunately replicated across far too many countries.

I have dedicated the last few years to combatting corruption in PNG. My journey, though dangerous at times, and uncomfortable and unpleasant for my family, has been personally rewarding in ways that I could never have imagined. The challenges of combating corruption in a resource rich, communal, yet diverse cultural setting such as PNG, are multifaceted. Here I outline some key factors that make the fight against corruption in PNG challenging. The first challenge is cultural. In PNG the big man syndrome – the perception that leaders in responsible government positions are beyond reproach because of their elevated status in society – shapes relationships.

There is also a lack of national consciousness. Many people think in groups, such as tribes, instead of as a country. Because of our communal living, an attack on an individual is seen as an attack on the group. Sometimes corruption rewards the group, hence the group is ready to defend the corrupter.

Others believe that corruption is a behavioural pattern that always appears as a consequence of institutional failure. Yes, that is true. But I see corruption as a behavioural pattern built over time because of a lack of foundational, values-based education. Corruption is a human condition, and we have to study how to train up a child in an appropriate way to respect himself and respect others and their property. People must be taught to do the right thing. PNG suffers from poor demand for accountability. Owing to the fact that the majority of Papua New Guineans are illiterate, there is little awareness of the public’s right to demand better goods and services.

…The structural changes required to address this situation requires a total re-think of the way that public funds are disbursed and services are delivered in PNG. Without a proper diagnosis of the causes of institutional failures, a new set of structural reforms that will subject the bureaucracy to more political control – including proposed reforms to allow MPs to appoint their own departmental heads – could be disastrous. Institutions of government need to be appropriately empowered with the necessary resources and skilled manpower to fight corruption.

…The fight against corruption cannot be successful without support from non-state actors. We need an independent and vibrant civil society, media and union organisations who provide unbiased criticism to corrupt activities. We need a group of civic-minded citizens who must rise-up and care enough to do something about the prevalence of corruption.

…We need to be clean: the corrupt cannot fight corruption. They will dig your grave and hunt you to your tomb. If you have no skeletons in your own closet, you will not fear anybody.

From my experience, when you raise the anti-corruption temperature in a country like PNG it starts to make people uncomfortable. If the temperature is too hot and you get a bit too close to the sun, you get burnt. PNG needs more men and women of courage to stand up for their country, even at a personal cost. Honesty can be costly, but you have to stay the course.

Sam Koim is chairman of the multi-agency, anti-corruption body Taskforce Sweep and Principal Legal Officer at the Department of Justice and Attorney General in Papua New Guinea

 

Taskforce Sweep faces closure

Post Courier, December 11, 2014

ANTI-corruption watchdog Task Force Sweep is on the verge of closing because it does not have money to continue operations. The K7 million appropriated this year for its operations had still not been released despite numerous requests. Task Force Sweep team, which had been successful in fighting corruption at the highest level, had been operating without funding for the whole of this year.

According to documents filed in court and obtained by the Post-Courier, Task Force Sweep had operated from funds left over from last year and it had exhausted these funds. In June this year, Task Force Sweep was disbanded by the National Executive Council after an arrest warrant was served on Prime Minister Peter O’Neill relating to the payments made to Paul Paraka Lawyers. Task Force Sweep had however, obtained a permanent stay order against the NEC decision which had allowed it to continue to operate to date. The court documents revealed that numerous attempts were made by the Acting Secretary for Finance Ken Ngangan and Secretary for Justice Lawrence Kalinoe to remove the financial powers of Task Force Sweep chairman Sam Koim. According to Mr Koim’s affidavit file, Mr Kalinoe had taken him off payroll in August this year. A contempt proceeding had been filed against Mr Kalinoe, Mr Ngangan, Police Commissioner Geoffrey Vaki and National Gaming Control Board chairman Leslie Hoffman for interfering with the court to issue an order for the release of the funding. A hearing date is yet to be allocated for the hearing.

Illegal Logging Wreaking Havoc on Impoverished Rural Communities

http://www.ipsnews.net/2014/12/illegal-logging-wreaking-havoc-on-impoverished-rural-communities/

Customary landowners in the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea, both rainforest nations in the Southwest Pacific Islands, are suffering the environmental and social impacts of illegal logging. Credit: Catherine Wilson/IPS

Rampant unsustainable logging in the southwest Pacific Island states of Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands, where the majority of land is covered in tropical rainforest, is worsening hardship, human insecurity and conflict in rural communities. Paul Pavol, a customary landowner in Pomio District, East New Britain, an island province off the northeast coast of the Papua New Guinean mainland, told IPS that logging in the area had led to “permanent environmental damage of the soil and forests, which our communities depend on for their water, building materials, natural medicines and food.” Four years ago, a Malaysian logging multinational obtained two Special Agricultural Business Leases (SABLs) in the district, but local landowners claim their consent was never given and, following legal action, the National Court issued an order in November for the developer to cease logging operations. According to Global Witness, the company had cleared 7,000 hectares of forest and exported more than 50 million dollars worth of logs. “We never gave our free, prior and informed consent to the Special Agricultural Business Leases (SABLs) that now cover our customary land … and we certainly did not give agreement to our land being given away for 99 years to a logging company,” Pavol stated. One-third of log exports from PNG originated from land subject to SABLs in 2012, according to the PNG Institute of National Affairs, despite the stated purpose of these leases being to facilitate agricultural projects of benefit to local communities. Pavol also cited human rights abuses with “the use of police riot squads to protect the logging company and intimidate and terrorize our communities.” Last year an independent fact-finding mission to Pomio led by the non-governmental organisation, Eco-Forestry Forum, in association with police and government stakeholders, verified that police personnel, who had been hired by logging companies to suppress local opposition to their activities, had conducted violent raids and serious assaults on villagers.

In the neighbouring Solomon Islands, where 2.2 million hectares of forest cover more than 80 percent of the country, the timber-harvesting rate has been nearly four times the sustainable rate of 250,000 cubic metres per year. While timber has accounted for 60 percent of the country’s export earnings, this is unlikely to continue, given the forecast by the Solomon Islands Forest Management Project that accessible forests will be exhausted by next year.

 

Court orders extension to ban on Rimbunan Hijau logging in Pomio

www.PNGexposed.wordpress.com. December 9, 2014

The National Court sitting in Kimbe has ordered an extension to the ban on any forest related activities by logging giant Rimbunan Hijau in its contested SABL lease areas in the Pomio District of East New Britain. The extension was ordered at a hearing on Monday. The original orders were granted on November 16 – as reported below. The matter will return to court later this month.

The Pomio SABLs are part of a wider land grab in PNG which has seen more than 5 million hectares of land taken from customary owners under 99 year leases. A Commission of Inquiry has condemned the leases as being fraudulent and unlawful but the government has not acted to stop logging companies operating in lease areas. In October, the National Forest Board renewed the logging permit for the Pomio SABLs despite widespread opposition from local landowners. In September, the elected ward councillors and other community representatives from the villages of Bairaman, Mauna and Lau, wrote to the National Forest Board requesting the forest clearance permit issued in 2010 not be renewed. When the Forest Board refused to listen to the landowners plea and elected instead to renew the logging permit the landowners turned to the courts for assistance. The court orders stop the National Forest Authority doing anything to give effect to the new logging permit and stops RH from conducting any logging or associated activities in Portions 196C or 197C or doing anything else in reliance on the new permit.

 

TB cases double in Kundiawa

The National, Monday December 8th, 2014

KUNDIAWA’S Sir Joseph Nombri Memorial Hospital has warned of an alarming surge in the number of tuberculosis cases in the area. The hospital has described it as a “time bomb” waiting to explode. Cases have  more than doubled. The hospital’s chief surgeon, Fr Jan Jaworski, said the increase had reached epidemic level and showed reporters more than 40 patients in medical and TB wards. “Over the last two years, we have seen a sudden surge in TB cases. It has more than doubled. It’s a very dangerous trend. “We need government intervention very quickly. If we don’t establish good facilities with modern equipment and qualified personnel, we are heading for disaster.” Jorwaski appealed to the government for immediate action, “In fact, this epidemic is worse than HIV/AIDS,” Jaworski said. The hospital’s medical director Dr Harry Poka and chief executive officer Mathew Kaluvia said over two years ago, TB cases were rare with fewer than 10 annually but last week there were more than 40 such patients in the hospital. He said TB was the main cause of deaths in the hospital. “Most of these patients are young people and it’s a dangerous trend. The TB parasite spreads very fast and it can become ‘bushfire’, unlike HIV/AIDS. “We need to open our eyes and start acting. We need modern facilities and equipment with skilled staff. Poka called on Papua New Guineans to treasure their lives by opting for healthy lifestyles to eliminate diseases. He said there were many cases in the remote areas and appealed to those in authority to screen all family members before cases became severe.

City under siege as cops protest

Post Courier, December 09,2014, 02:12 am

BUSINESSES in the country’s third largest city Mt Hagen remained closed yesterday as policemen and women staged a protest through the main streets following the brutal death of a police senior constable on Saturday night.The protest, escorted by armed policemen, sent fear throughout the city with ignoring the show of force. Senior Constable Allan Ani was killed by passengers of a PMV bus after a light collision between the bus and police vehicle at Warakum. Police vehicles cladded in mud roamed the streets of Mt Hagen as an indication of mourning as well as frustration against the local Jika Milakimb tribe, who had been blamed for the death. Senior Const Ani, from West Sepik Province, has served the people of Western Highlands for many years and was attached to the police dog unit when he was attacked by the passengers, who were believed to be under the influence of alcohol.

Leaders from the Jika tribe promised to bring in the remaining suspects in the killing which included two women. Six people, including two women and the bus used in the murder are in police custody in Mt Hagen. On Sunday, police showed their frustration by felling shade trees and plants that lined the median strip in the city centre, spilled rubbish on the streets and discharged firearms.

Looters take over Pom City

Post Courier, December 08,2014, 01:00 pm

Port Moresby is becoming a ghost town as business houses close down in fear of looters.

Fear has gripped the nation’s capital after rumors that the police and the PNG Defense Force soldiers might clash again today. A confrontation between the two disciplinary forces  last Friday night, resulted in the looting of several shops around 4 Mile and 3 Mile and the wounding of soldiers and police men. Several cars were also burnt by opportunists as Boroko came under siege on Saturday morning. Public fear of  the possible confrontation has resulted in opportunists taking advantage of the situation looting at various business and shopping complexes all over the city. Erima is a ghost town as J Mart and other supermarkets closed their doors in the early hours of today upon seeing large groups of youths gathering outside their gates. In Boroko shops and supermarkets opened but later shut down as news of looters spread around the city. All this is happening due to a fight between drunken soldiers and police officers on duty on Friday. The military men had just come out of a club at Boroko and resorted to drinking in a public area, when asked by the police patrol to leave, they acted with hostility and thus were detained in prison. However, the soldiers called for backup that came and attempted to rescue the jailed army officers. It was during this rescue attempt that shots were fired and three soldiers were shot.

Report reveals drop in malaria cases in PNG

Post Courier, December 11, 2014

PAPUA New Guinea has had dramatic success in battling malaria, the World Health Organisation reports. Five years ago, one in every five people had malaria parasites in their blood – that number is now down to two people in every 100, WHO said in its 2014 report released this week.

It said globally, the number of people dying from malaria had halved since the year 2000.

The WHO said the positive figures must be attributed to global and regional efforts and a three-fold increase in funding.

WHO director-general Dr Margaret Chan said: “These tremendous achievements are the result of improved tools, increased political commitment, the burgeoning of regional initiatives, and a major increase in international and domestic financing.”

Great progress in malaria control but no room for complacency

26 December 2014 http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2014/12/great-progress-in-malaria-control-but-no-room-for-complacency.html#more

The distribution of long-lasting insecticidal nets and the introduction of the new and highly effective artemisinin-based combination treatment have changed the malaria landscape in PNG once again.

In malaria surveillance sites established by the PNG Institute of Medical Research (IMR), the incidence of malaria dropped from 205 cases per 1000 people in 2009 to 48 cases per 1000 in 2014.

Extrapolated to the entire country, this translates to 35,000 malaria cases less – every year! Over the same period, the Health Department reported a 50% reduction in malaria deaths. The current success was possible because $US120 million were provided between 2009 and 2014 to the Health Department, Rotarians Against Malaria, Population Services International, Oil Search Health Foundation and their partners to implement a comprehensive and well-designed malaria control program. Nevertheless, it is not the time to sit back and relax. In the 1980s, the cessation of the malaria eradication program and the increase in antimalarial drug resistance (to chloroquine and sulphadoxine-pyrimethamine or fansidar) led to a massive resurgence of malaria cases in PNG. The same was seen in malarious countries around the world. One of the reasons for these rebounds are so-called sub-patent malaria infections – infections with a very low number of parasites that remain undetected by normal diagnostic methods such as microscopy or rapid diagnostic tests. If PNG wants to avoid repeating the experiences following the 1980s, the funding commitment from the government needs to increase substantially or other donors need to be found. The biggest mistake at this point would be to argue that less funding is required as the burden has decreased. The opposite is the case. The challenge is therefore to sustain adequate funding for the malaria program to continue with the successful interventions. Political support and support from the people affected is critical. Far too often are people indifferent to the dangers of malaria.

Catholic schools eye fees in 2015

The National, Thursday December 11th, 2014

CHILDREN attending Catholic Church agency schools in Chimbu will pay fees next year, Bishop of Catholic Diocese in the province, Anton Bal said. “The government’s tuition fee-free (TFF) education failed to be implemented effectively in Catholic schools that forced delivery of primary and secondary education in Chimbu to face difficulties,” Bal said. He cautioned parents of children who will be attending the schools to be prepared to pay school fees. Bal said the intention of the policy was noble but the implementation of the policy had resulted in schools faced with many problems. Some of the problem he highlighted included overcrowding, improper teacher-student ratio and inaccurate handling of the commodity component of TFF. Bal said when the government announced the tuition fee-free education policy, it opened up floodgates. “Youths, whose parents had problems with school fees and kept their children at home, suddenly found them in school,” he said. “Because they have been on the street for long and have been involved in drinking, smoking and doing other things, they became a problem in that they brought bad influence to the young kids who were accepted in those schools.”  Bal said overcrowding resulted in teachers not having time to talk with problematic students. “The normal accepted number of students in a class is 35-40 but now we have 50-60 students in a class that this is affecting the teacher who wants to spend time with students with problems.

Papua New Guinea’s Tuition Fee-Free policy: is it working?

By Grant Walton, Anthony Swan and Stephen Howes on December 10, 2014

http://devpolicy.org/pngs-tuition-fee-free-policy-is-it-working-20141210/?utm_source=Devpolicy&utm_camp

In our previous blog post we looked at Papua New Guinea’s attempts to instigate fee-free education policies since independence. We suggested that the 2012 Tuition Fee-Free (TFF) policy – the fourth attempt to introduce ‘free education’ – has been more clearly communicated, better organised and funded, and has lasted longer than previous policies. In this post we draw on the findings of our recent research, to examine the TFF policy’s implementation and performance more closely.

How well is the TFF policy being implemented?

Our findings suggest that schools received most of their subsidy, and that this has helped to compensate schools for a loss of revenue over the decade. Between 2001 and 2012, national government subsidies increased from 48 to 249 kina per student, 21 kina short of the 270 kina per enrolled student that these schools are meant to get. (The shortfall is likely due to the fact that about 16 per cent of the schools we surveyed had not received their second payment, and about 10 per cent had not received a payment at all.) This increase more than made up for the loss of revenue from parents: support from parents dropped from 70 to 12 kina between 2001 and 2012. As a result, the total revenue per student was 336 kina per student in 2012, more than double the 2001 figure…..

Remote schools face excessive costs associated with accessing their subsidy. For the 216 primary level schools in our 2012 PEPE survey, on average it cost over 1,100 kina to access the subsidy, or about 4 per cent of the overall subsidy amount. In Gulf province, which is particularly remote, the reported average cost was 2,865 kina per school or 32 per cent of the average subsidy payment. Not only are travel and associated costs expensive, but there are substantial risks to transporting large sums of cash from banks to schools (for the rest of this interesting article, see the url above.).

First batch of Manus asylum seekers begin resettlement process

Post Courier, December 16,2014, 01:48 am

FIFTY asylum seekers at the Australian-funded Manus Regional Processing Centre have been categorised as “genuine refugees” and will be moved out of the facility as part of their integration into the wider community. Foreign Minister Rimbink Pato made the announcement yesterday in the company of his Australian colleague Julie Bishop as they wrapped up the 23rd Papua New Guinea-Australia Ministerial Forum in Port Moresby. The one-day summit between the two neighbouring countries covered a broad range of issues from the Manus Regional Processing Centre, training bureaucrats through a new school of government, the 2018 APEC Summit and the efforts of both governments to restore services in Bougainville. “The resettlement of refugees’ arrangement is working very well; it is going full speed on every front. It is reviewable each year and the understanding is that our technical people will work through the issues to make sure that it is better, more refined to achieve the outcomes that we want to achieve,” said Mr Pato. “And I just announced today that I have approved up to 50 persons who have been determined as genuine refugees for settlement purposes and that means that effectively these 50 people will be moved away from the centre and they will be transited to the East Lorengau centre, which is a special purpose-built facility for asylum seekers on their way to integration.”

Porgera landowners may close mine

Post Courier, December 18,2014, 11:00 am

The landowners of the world class Porgera gold mine in the Enga province plan to force shut the mine after the National Government has failed to honour commitments under the mine’s Memorandum of Agreement. They are calling on department of treasury to explain to the landowners the reason for the hold back and when the funds should be released before the landowners take the law into their hands.

Chairman of the Porgera landowners Association Tony Mark Ekepa said from Porgera yesterday that under the mine MOA, the government agreed to provide K10 million for the construction of the Porgera-Tari road but the funds have not been released. He said they checked up with the mineral resource authority for the funds but they were told that the funds have not been released by the department of treasury. However he said it was unfair for the landowners of the Porgera gold mine to miss out on the funds when the Ok Tedi landowners were given funding under similar mine agreements. He said the Porgera gold is like any other mine in the country contributing to the coffers of the nation but the government’s intention to withhold the funding is unacceptable. He said the failure of the government would now force them to mobilize and shut the mine.“We have waited for a year and the financial year has ended. We need services like any other landowners and the failure to release the fund would have detrimental effects on the operation of the mine. …

Police: Binge drinking a killer

Post Courier, December 18,2014

POLICE statistics show that violent crimes such as murder and rape are associated with binge drinking. And measures must be taken to stop these violent crimes, acting Deputy Police Commissioner chief of operations Jim Andrews said yesterday. He said this while echoing his desire to see National Capital District Commission (NCDC) impose tougher liquor restrictions in the city where violent crimes remained prevalent. Mr Andrews wanted liquor sales in suburbs and settlements stemmed to reduce deaths and injuries that may result from ethnic violence, sexual assaults on females and other common crimes. He said numerous murders reported to police in various locations of the city, including that of a man who was bludgeoned to death at Morata last month, were associated with binge drinking. Mr Andrews said his recommendation for liquor restrictions in Port Moresby city was necessary to prevent crime and the loss of more innocent lives.

How boozing has changed PNG for the worst

BUSA JEREMIAH WENOGO http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2014/12/how-boozing-has-changed-png-for-the-worst.html#more. 12 December 2014

WHEN I moved to Erima three years ago I began to dread the weekends. In Erima and other settlements in Port Moresby, weekends usher in a period of uncontrollable boozing. It is one of the major problems in Port Moresby. Ask any person on the street and they’ll tell you it is now a way of life in Port Moresby. Children as young as eight can be seen in places like the Gordon Market indulging in drugs and booze. School kids nowadays see the boozing culture as the ultimate initiation into manhood although most of them have yet to develop the mental capacity to be responsible drinkers let alone adults. I wonder if we as a nation will one day stop and ponder about where we are heading. I fear for a future living in an environment surrounded by drunkards and being at their mercy even in the workplace. I mean nowadays everyone takes alcohol but I am concerned about those who have yet to develop the level of maturity that is required to be considered a responsible drinker.

…For me and my family who spent most of our time in an environment where peace and order was the norm, coming to Erima was the most shocking experience of our lives. Looking back I realise how much sacrifice we made and the nuisance we had to face up to. God protected us and bestowed us His favour. Through this experience, I have developed a broader understanding of the struggle facing my community and the neglected and down trodden of PNG society. To me it was as if God wanted me to experience something that he often anguished over. Something which I could not have come to known if we had not moved in the first place. While the boozing and recklessness continue, my family and I have developed a thicker skin. By going through the similar struggle endured by the community, especially the struggle for water, we blend with the community. Yet every time I step out of my gate I realise how the booze culture has eroded so much of us as a nation. It has fuelled breakdown in law and order and led to ethnic tension and fights which has resulted in loss of lives and property. So much of what is culturally acceptable in our traditional societies has been weathered away. The younger generation is less benevolent and respectful towards their fellow citizens. Most of them don’t have a sense of purpose and goal in life. In place of hopes, dreams and inspiration, alcohol has created a world based on hallucination that only brings them closer to their own demise.

Facebook SOS saves dying mother

Post Courier, December 19,2014, 12:50 am

THE often demonised act of using social media has in turn saved the life of a young pregnant mother in a remote village in Aitape. The young mother, barely out of her teens, had reportedly been in labour for four days and was in critical condition while attempting to give birth at a remote Aitape village aid post on Tuesday. According to the aid post nurse, the young woman’s womb was damaged and resulted in the death of her baby two hours into the birth procedure. The situation got worse when complications rendered her unable to deliver the stillborn child, which, as medical staff explained, would have resulted in certain death if left unattended. The aid post was about eight hours walk from the Aitape district health services and at the time of the occurrence, it was almost certain that the young mother would die as she was too weak to walk or move. It was at this instance that Father Martin We-en, a priest working in the diocese of Aitape, posted a message on Facebook asking for assistance. Fr We-en’s “Hail Mary” post read: “A young mother is in labour now for four days, since Friday. The baby has already died in the womb and the mother is very weak now. I need to get this mother out before she dies.” This post was read by many of his friends and their friends as is the way of Facebook. This vast relaying of his message resulted in it being sent to the office of Health Minister Michael Malabag in Port Moresby within minutes. Mr Malabag wasted no time after receiving the distress call, contacting the Vanimo provincial health authorities and organised for a helicopter rescue, which successfully got to the village where the young mother was stabilised and evacuated to the Vanimo General Hospital. “I was surprised and at the same time very appreciative of those people who actually sent comments on Facebook and used their networks to distribute the post that I sent for help,” Fr We-en said. The woman is now recovering in Vanimo hospital, where her condition is stable.

Father John Glynn’s diary: Thoughts on doing it tough http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2014/12/thoughts-on-doing-it-tough-from-the-pen-of-father-john-glynn.html 19 December 2014

There is nothing so resilient as the human spirit. If you were to see the conditions in which people live in the slums and settlements of the developing world you would ask why there is no despair. It never ceases to amaze me that people who have virtually nothing of any material value, and who experience real hunger, and have to put up with the experience of rejection by authority figures, can still be patient, calm, and even happy. I recently took a student to the General Hospital to book her in for a tonsils operation due the next day. We sat on a bench in a crowded corridor outside the ENT clinic from eight in the  morning until two in the afternoon – yes, six hours – before we got to see the surgeon. He told us, in a five minute conversation, that for various reasons the operation could not be done and I should take the student to a private hospital. He was very friendly and polite but not in the least apologetic.He had the same message for others who had waited just as long. So we are going private. The same surgeon will carry out the procedure, but at considerable expense. It will be some time in the New Year we hope.

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Social Concerns Notes – November 2014

A way forward for peace in Bougainville

Post Courier October 30, 2014

An agreement was signed between the Panguna Peace Building Strategy (PPBS) and the Siwai District Peace & Security Committee enabling the two parties to work together to address outstanding reconciliations in the district.

The Siwai Crisis was one of the major local civil wars during the 10 year Bougainville conflict during which some prominent Siwai leaders were apprehended in Siwai and alleged to have been killed and buried in and around Panguna – these persons are technically still referred to as “missing persons” until such time their whereabouts is investigated and confirmed.  The conclusion remarks were made by the two parties of the Nomaingu as a call to the responsible bodies to resolve the pending case of the Late Anthony Anugu. PPBS manage Cyril Tavore told all those who participated that the way forward for the peace process to continue is by all to work together, put aside the differences that people have and not to conform to the past but to move on by working together.

 

Dame Carol Kidu on why things are getting tougher for PNG’s women

By Carol Kidu and Ashlee Betteridge on October 29, 2014 http://devpolicy.org/dame-carol-kidu-on-why-things-are-getting-tougher-for-pngs-women-20141029/?utm_source=Devpolicy&utm_campaign=e6dfa31b5a-Devpolicy_News__Oct_31_2014&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_082b498f84-e6dfa31b5a-227683090

Dame Carol Kidu is a tireless campaigner for the rights of women and girls in Papua New Guinea. A former PNG Member of Parliament and Minister for Community Development, Dame Kidu was the sole female representative in the PNG Parliament for a decade before her retirement in 2012, after a political career of 15 years. I spoke to her on the sidelines of her recent visit to Canberra for the Australian launch of the new World Bank report Voice and agency: empowering women and girls for shared prosperity. You can listen to a full podcast of the launch event, including Dame Kidu’s remarks, here.

Ashlee: I thought I would just start with a really broad question. What do you think the biggest challenges are for women and girls in PNG right now?

Dame Kidu: I think the challenge for the nation to do with girls is to ensure that women and girls are educated and have access to learning. And I’m not necessarily talking about the formal education system. Although there is now free education, many people have never been in the formal system and so remain excluded. I think we should have our across-the-board policy as access to learning for everybody, and move forth from there. Informal and flexible learning opportunities need to be available to promote lifelong learning and to develop a knowledge based society – both traditional knowledge and skills as well as introduced knowledge and skills. For girls and women, [the biggest challenge] is probably defining their space in a rapidly changing society because change can be confusing, frightening and even abusive.

For rest of long interview see the url above.

 

What has happened to Papua New Guinea’s Sovereign Wealth Fund?

By David Osborne on October 28, 2014 http://devpolicy.org/what-has-happened-to-papua-new-guineas-sovereign-wealth-fund-20141028/?utm_source=Devpolicy&utm_campaign=e6dfa31b5a-Devpolicy_News__Oct_31_2014&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_082b498f84-e6dfa31b5a-227683090

Since 2011 many have expected the Papua New Guinea (PNG) Government to create a sovereign wealth fund (SWF) for the management of PNG’s widely anticipated LNG revenues. A requirement to do so was intended by a PNG law certified on 21 March 2012: the Organic Law for establishment of a Sovereign Wealth Fund. It was designed to ensure that all government revenues from minerals and petroleum passed through a stabilisation fund prior to flowing through to the National Budget in accordance with a specified formula, and that PNG LNG dividends accruing to the PNG Government would be paid into a development fund for PNG’s economic and social development.

PNG started exporting LNG in May 2014 amidst expectations that resulting revenues will greatly benefit PNG. Yet no SWF has been established and its future prospects are currently mired in confusion, including uncertainty around the legal status of the 2012 Organic Law.

For the rest of this long but interesting article, see the url above.

 

Disciplined Police Force Is Fundamental To Democracy

By Nemo Yalo pngblogs.com 2 November

Police Ill-discipline and Lawlessness

The law allows police legitimate use of force under specified circumstances. But think about allegations of policemen slashing off a student’s fingers with bush knife; slashing ankle tendons of multiple civilians; allegation of bashing up an academic and stealing personal belongings; terrorizing a person with canine police dog; chasing a wrong car, firing at and shooting dead an innocent child; allegedly assaulting detectives for doing their work and terrorizing innocent families; beating up suspects in full public view using vehicle fan belts; allegations almost on a daily basis where officers are drunk in uniform and abusing and assaulting members of the public thus acting as the prosecutor, the judge, the jury and the executioner at once; and the list goes on… The frequency of these criminal acts seems to be a clear statement of disrespect for their command and the hierarchy daring their superiors to touch them if they are men enough. Perhaps they know their superiors will not hold them to account. Every time the hierarchy announces that it has zero tolerance on such ill-discipline the public is quietly resigned to asking, ‘really’?….. (See url above for full article)

Division in the force is no secret. When and who is going to stop this and unify the force? When will the People see order in the force? Or will there be no order because every officer from top down belongs to a faction? So when one Commissioner is in office it is his faction to rule and this tribal culture continues each time a different Commissioner takes office. The government is losing its legitimacy from the People unless it stops the police lawlessness and the continuous deprivation of civil rights and liberties.

What are Root Causes of Police Ill-discipline? Before readers throw dirt at our police officers one should ask, where the police force once the nation’s pride has gone wrong. What may be the root causes of the breakdown of discipline and lawlessness within the force? Could the Bougainville crisis and the successive governments’ neglect to the necessity to rehabilitate and reintegrate our officers into civilian lives and service be one of the root causes? Police officers from all sections who were trained for civilian service were thrown into a warzone. They all experienced the hostilities and carnage of war and returned battle-hardened to their wives, families and their normal police duties to serve the civilian duties. This writer used to observe the behavior of soldier friends that returned from Bougainville during the crisis. To them their comrades mattered more than anyone. Even to this day they live for each other and they owe their lives to their comrades. One thing bad happens to a member of the unit and it hurts everyone as if they are part of the same human body. The experience may be no different to our police officers. This writer is not aware of any serious government intervention to help rehabilitate and integrate these battle-hardened police officers to perform their civilian duties.

There can be no true democracy when the police force is a serious threat to it. If the police poses such a threat then it is indeed the employer and its political interference and its inaction that is the real threat to our nationhood, the Constitution and our democracy.

 

Free health care policy likely to worsen situation

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-10-30/png-free-health-care-likely-to-make-a-dire-situation-worse/5855018

Despite Papua New Guinea’s economic boom, health clinics are providing fewer services, and there has been a mixed result in the improvement of the country’s education.

This was revealed in a report last Thursday. The reported initiated by the National Research Institute and the Australian National University’s Development Policy Centre was the find out the service delivery and reforms in PNG 2002 – 2012. The report stated that in 2012 survey of 142 health centres found clinics were seeing 19 per cent fewer patients and had 10 per cent less medicine available compared with similar research conducted 10 years earlier in 2002.

“The recent decision to abolish health user fees wills likely lead to further deterioration of primary healthcare because user fees were the only source of funds for 29 per cent of health clinics surveyed.

“Now the Government said they’re going to subsidize clinics for the removal of user fees but the problem is there’s no real mechanism – most of these facilities don’t have bank accounts,” said Howes.

The report revealed that it paints a bleak picture of the health services available in Papua New Guinea, stating only 20 per cent of clinics had beds with mattresses, about half had year-round access to water, and 75 per cent of health workers said they contributed to the cost of healthcare from their own pocket. Meanwhile researcher believes that “dire state” of Papua New Guinea’s primary health system will likely only get worse under the country’s free healthcare policy, as many clinics do not receive government subsidies and depend entirely on patient fees to survive.

 

The Rome Synod: A difficult & challenging reflection on the family

Bishop Arnold Orowae

http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2014/11/the-rome-synod-a-difficult-challenging-reflection-on-the-family.html06 November 2014

WE spent the first week of the Rome Synod of the Catholic Church (5-19 October) listening to about 260 interventions from cardinals, bishops, priests, religious and lay people concerning marriage and family life. The problems shared ranged from divorce and remarriage, polygamy, cultural marriages, arranged marriages, forced marriages, indissolubility of the sacrament of marriage, the good and richness of marriage, homosexuality and cohabitation.

All the representatives were given a chance to talk – and Pope Francis encouraged everybody to really speak frankly. A large number of couples and lay people were also invited to participate in the Synod and gave moving life testimonies. It was a good listening experience for us, the Synod Fathers. Pope Francis took part in all the meetings except on Wednesdays when the general audience with pilgrims was scheduled in St Peter’s Square.

In the second week of the Synod, we were put into working groups of 10, divided into four language groups: Italian, French, Spanish and English, and we went through all the topics raised during the previous week. There were quite a lot of expectations from the Synod, partially fuelled by the media.

For some people, the Church was getting too far ahead and abandoning the traditional path on family teachings; for others, the Church appeared to be resisting necessary changes. The secretariat was asked to remind everybody that our meeting was only the first part of a process to be completed with further discussion in the dioceses and another Synod scheduled for 4-25 October 2015. This will provide the Holy Father and the Church in general with more comprehensive and definite suggestions and guidelines.

The Synod was aware of the fact that marriage and family life are going through many difficulties nowadays and face new challenges. There is a need to stay on course with traditional Catholic doctrine on marriage and the family; at the same time we need to attend with tenderness, love and mercy to people who find themselves in a difficult situation with an irregular union or a broken family.

The reports of the working groups were summarised in the 62 paragraphs of the Relatio Synodi (Synod’s Report) and voted one by one by the 183 Synod Fathers in attendance (nine were absent) on 18 October. All paragraphs received at least two-thirds favourable votes except for three dealing with the pastoral care of remarried divorcees and homosexual persons, which received only an absolute majority and will need further discussion. The Relatio Synodi will serve as official working document (Instrument Laboris) for the preparation of the 2015 final Assembly of the Synod on the “Pastoral challenges to the family in the context of evangelisation”. I invite everybody in Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands to pray that the Holy Spirit may guide the Church and her leadership to find ways that will ease tensions and clarify issues. We need to understand how we can best serve, preserve and promote marriage and family life in our time.

Bishop Arnold Orowae DD is President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of PNG and the Solomon Islands

 

Hey Mr Luck, I do not feel like I am living in a failed state

JACK KLOMES 06 November 2014 http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2014/11/i-do-not-feel-like-i-am-living-in-a-failed-state.html#more

I am a proud young Papua New Guinean, born, bred and educated right here in my country, Papua New Guinea, and I do not feel like I am living in a failed state.

I wake up to the reality every day that more than 80% of my people living in the rural areas are living on their own land, they have food to eat and good water to drink and they are content. I wake up every day and I see this country’s flag carrier Air Niugini flying overhead. I see students in uniforms going to school to be taught by PNG teachers. I see banks, hospitals, police vehicles. It reminds me that I still have access to basic government services. Well they may not be the best in the world but they are operational and they meet our needs. We still have a government in place, though it may have failed in many of its obligations to its constituents. But then I still access government basic services that means it’s still functioning quite well.

Yes PNG is not a paradise or holy land. We have tribal fights, corruption, police brutality, wife beating and all the juicy stuff that the newspapers like to talk about. But then all countries have challenges and PNG, as a developing country, is no exception! I am thankful that we asked for independence and that it was given to us and we did not have to fight for it. I am thankful that we have our own government and we make our own decisions and that we are responsible for the outcomes.

My country is unique and has its own share of problems like all other countries. But then it is a very difficult country to understand.PNG should not be looked at through a western lens. To understand and appreciate this country you have to think like a Papua New Guinean and act like a real Papua New Guinean.

So please do not call my country a failed state if you have not lived in PNG like a Papua New Guinean. God Bless PNG.

Catholic Church awaits ‘united voice’ of Vunakanau groups

Lawrencia Pirpir Nov 5, 2014 http://www.pngloop.com/2014/11/05/catholic-church-awaits-united-voice-vunakanau-groups/

The Archdiocese of Rabaul is still waiting for the nine wards that surround Vunakanau plantation that covers 900 hectares and 25 hectares in reserve land to coordinate better with one voice to enable a land transfer process to begin. Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Rabaul Francisco Panfilo said the Archdiocese does not want to create civil unrest over the land in question.

Panfilo was speaking with an audience yesterday (051114) at his office conference room at Vunapope with representatives of the Vunakanau Plantation Working Committee. The committee chairman Raphael Naivel in their meeting with Panfilo presented four points that seven of the nine wards agreed to at a meeting that was held last week Saturday at the Talakua meeting chamber. Tinganagalip and Vunagogo did not turn up at the last meeting. The people need the land due to overpopulation. They need the land also for service providers which includes the church, schools and ward development committee priorities. And Naivel said they collectively want the old process to continue from previous discussions they had had with now retired Archbishop Karl Hesse.

In response Archbishop Panfilo said he had on several occasions released press releases explaining the Church’s position on the lands they have that Vunakanau is part of. He reiterated that the Church’s position is to dispose of the plantation but it cannot hand it over to the nine wards when they are not united. See more at: http://www.pngloop.com/2014/11/05/catholic-church-awaits-united-voice-vunakanau-groups/#sthash.NWV42R8B.dpuf

Bishop calls on govt to help

Post Courier November 11, 2014

Bishop Rochus Tatamai of Bereina diocese has called upon various arms of government to take the lead in assisting remote communities in the mountains of Goilala in the Central province. Social services such as health, education and pastoral presence are needed in these areas. Missionaries, civil and public servants as well as ordinary people have died over the years while trying to provide services to the people up in the mountains while travelling on small planes. “There is no other way around for places like Guari-Kamulai, Fane, Ononghe, Jongai and Kerau, but through flying into the mountains on small planes”, the Bishop said.

Bishop Rochus raised his concern following a recent plane crash in September that killed four people and left five survivors including a diocesan priest from Bereina 300 metres from Mt. Lawes near the Hiritano Highway. While the Church is present in the area, it is not capable of delivering all the needed services due to limited resources and the circumstances of the area. “Priests, teachers and health workers can only do so much and they can only cope with so much for so long”, he added. Bishop Rochus also further expressed that political will and leadership as well as commitment and action is needed in the Goilala electorate, so that people can feel they are included in the development of the country. “It is for this reason that we are calling upon the various arms of government to take

 

Inquiry begins into Hagen sorcery murder

Post Courier newspaper, November 11,2014

THE body of sorcery murder victim Leniata Kepari laid in the Mount Hagen Hospital morgue for nine months before a woman personally intervened to ensure she was given a proper burial.

These sordid details came to light in a National Court inquiry that began yesterday into the circumstances surrounding her brutal murder in the Western Highlands capital on February 7 last year.

Authorities did not even issue a death certificate for the murdered woman, the inquiry heard.

Justice Edward Kassman, who is chairing the inquiry, said her rights to life and freedom from inhuman treatment had been grossly abused.

“The National Court has jurisdiction to enforce basic rights when constitutional rights have been breached. For this case late Leniata’s rights to life and her right to freedom from inhuman treatment under section 57 (1) of the Constitution had been abused,” he said.

In the first of three hearings, the Western Highlands police CID and the offices of the State Solicitor, Public Prosecutor, Solicitor General, court clerk, the coroner and the Mount Hagen General Hospital morgue officer-in-charge were summoned to provide evidence. Justice Kassman expressed concern during the course of the inquiry yesterday at the absence of relatives and community leaders to assist the police.

“It is very sad that no one, either her relatives or leaders from the surrounding community have come forward to help the police in providing facts.”

He also expressed surprise at the failure of the coroner’s office to issue a death certificate. “What is deemed to be very inhuman was that she was not issued even a death certificate from the coroner’s office.”

Churchgoers living in the Warakum area of Mount Hagen, which is where the woman was burnt to death with burning tyres and witnessed by a crowd, were also put on the spot for turning a blind eye to the crime.

“Is Warakum a place for murder where killers will go away free?” Asked the judge.

The inquiry proceedings continue this Friday with Justice Kassman appealing to the public to come forward with information that would assist him enforce the rights of the murdered woman.

Judge’s call to address sorcery-related killings

The National, Monday November 17th, 2014

SORCERY-related killings should be addressed so that the rule of law can be applied to protect human rights, an inquiry into the subject was told last Friday in Mt Hagen.
The enquiry was headed by National Court judge Justice Stephen Kassman, along with lawyers, church representatives and citizens at the Mt Hagen court house.
Kassman said that everyone had a role to play and that was to look at ways to deal with such issues.
“Disasters take place relating to sorcery is a complete human breakdown.
“Those responsible must face justice so that human lives must be respected,” he said.
Kassman said the human rights rule should be exercised. He said citizens had the right to protection.
“The church and village court officials have a role to play.
“The rule of law must be restored and leaders must come forward and address it.”
Ruth Kissam, from Mt Hagen, said she had been coming across such problems and they were heartbreaking. She said in Mt Hagen last year a women from Enga was burnt alive at the Warakum junction.
“She was helpless and her relatives were helpless.”
Kissam said some people claiming to be witchcraft doctors or “glassman” made an income from such situations and that was“totally incorrect”.

Long walk for water: the modernisation of Port Moresby

http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2014/11/modernising-port-moresby-the-story-of-my-family-community.html#more 11 November 2014

IT is overwhelming when one tries to comprehend the pace of development taking place in Port Moresby. A drive around the city gives a clear impression of the huge level of investment the national government is putting into the Papua New Guinea capital in the hope of transforming it into one of the best cities in the Pacific.

However, recent cases of forced eviction have brought anxiety and confusion into the minds of residents. Many people are now beginning to wonder what the future holds for them. Even public servants with genuine and clear land titles do not have access to basic services such as water and electricity. To me it was a one in a million chance for me to get a house with a state title at a bargain price. After we moved in we were told by our neighbours that the only means of accessing water was to walk to the main road and fetch it from common taps.

But we found that water flows through the taps only at certain times of the day, 6-9 in the morning, 12-1 in the afternoon and 6-9 in the evening. There is no exception and mothers, children, fathers, youths, the elderly, employed and unemployed carry bucketloads of water day in and day out from the roadside taps to their houses. For the few living near the road, distance is not a problem. However the majority have to negotiate the heat of the sun and oncoming vehicles when heading home.

Every day as I walk around Port Moresby or pass across the new Erima flyover I ask myself, “Modernisation at whose expense?” I guess only time will tell.

Asylum seekers get refugee status

Post Courier November 13,2014, 01:35 am

FOREIGN Affairs and Immigration Minister Rimbink Pato announced yesterday that Papua New Guinea has given refugee status to the first 10 asylum seekers at the Regional Processing Centre on Manus Island. He made the announcement prior to meeting with his Australian counterpart Julie Bishop, and Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Scott Morison, adding that he would discuss this and other issues with them further.

These are the first refugee status determination made under PNG’s new refugee laws. It is a special class for these people who will initially be issued refugee status for a period of 12 months.

“The regional resettlement arrangement for asylum seekers is working. Those who need protection are receiving it. Non-refugees are returning home,” Mr Pato said in a statement. “Now that I have started to hand down refugee decisions, these people can start to take the next steps towards their new lives.”

Mr Pato said he expected to continue finalising refugee decisions for at least 10 asylum seekers every week. He said notification of these decisions will be handed down individually to the refugees. They will then be assisted to apply for a certificate of identity and a refugee status.

“The refugees will reside temporarily at a purpose built facility in East Lorengau. They will receive training in English, Tok Pisin, PNG culture and relevant skills to enable them to live and work in PNG,” the minister stated. “Most of the refugees are skilled people, including an accountant, engineer, jeweller and a watchmaker. I am confident that employers will require skills that these refugees offer.

“No doubt they will make a strong contribution to PNG,” said Mr Pato.

He said these initial refugees have come from Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan and Myanmar but can now call PNG their home. “We welcome refugees who wish to stay and are committed to making a contribution to their new country.

Corruption hinders growth here, says High Court judge

Solomon Star   11 November 2014

Corruption is a hindrance to development in this country, a High Court judge says.

Justice Stephen Pallaras, who has completed his three-year contract, shared his observation in an interview with the Sunday Star.

He said corruption is one of the obstacles that hold back the development of this country.

“And this is from an outsider’s perspective and it’s not meant to be insulting to the Solomon Islands which I have grown to love greatly as a beautiful place,” he said.

“There is corruption in politics, there is corruption in business, there is corruption some say in the law, and there is corruption some say in the police force.

“There is corruption everywhere, everybody knows it and what astonishes me is it no body, absolutely no body in authority does anything about it.

“Someone says the governments haven’t done anything about it because the governments are corrupt, and that if they do something about it, it is not in their interest.

“Someone say the governments don’t know what to do. Well that’s not acceptable,” he said.

Pallaras said there is no country in the world that needs an Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) than the Solomons.

Multi-agency report confirms police working for Rimbunan Hijau brutalize communities in SABL areas

https://pngexposed.wordpress.com/2014/11/06/multi-agency-report-confirms-police-working-for-rimbunan-hijau-brutalize-communities-in-sabl-areas/ November 6, 2014

An Independent Fact Finding Mission undertaken by a joint team of government officials and civil society organisations, has confirmed allegations of ‘continuous brutality and human rights violations’ by police personnel operating on behalf of Rimbunan Hijau inside two Special Agriculture and Business Lease areas in the East New Britain Province of Papua New Guinea.

Instances of violence by the police include brutal assaults with tree branches, rendering the victims unconscious, locking villagers in shipping containers for days on end, attacks by police on unarmed villagers with fan belts, rifle butts and toe-capped boots, forcing villagers to spend the night lying in the rain on felled logs and forcing them to drink polluted water….

Elections, and the state Solomon Islands is in

By Terence Wood on November 14, 2014 http://devpolicy.org/elections-and-the-state-solomon-islands-is-in-20141113/?utm_source=Devpolicy&utm_campaign=48e937a0f5-Devpolicy_News__Nov_14_2014&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_082b498f84-48e937a0f5-227683090

The roads into the hillside suburbs behind Honiara are criss-crossed by small valleys: potholes that have outgrown themselves, small rivers when it rains. They are deep and need careful navigation. As we angled our way amongst them Steve, the taxi driver, talked angrily about politics. The politicians, they are all corrupt. They make promises, but nothing changes. They take all the money for themselves. There are maybe one or two good ones, but they can’t do anything, and then they become corrupt too.

He was hunched forwards in his seat so he could see under the adhesive tinting that covers the top halves of the windows of most Honiara taxis, and he looked tired. He’d worked, he told me, since 6am. Amidst the heat, the endless traffic jams of Mendana Avenue, and the slow hill-climbs it was dreary work. He was angry: ….

On 19 November Solomon Islands will hold its ninth post-independence general election, and amidst the colour and flurry of the campaigning there is a strange mix of ambivalence, frustration and uncertainty. The two most obvious uncertainties for those of us in the aid and development world are how elections will run and  what might ultimately lead to Solomon Islands finding a healthier political dynamic: where could change come from (these will be the subject of my next two blog posts.)

The foremost question for many Solomon Islanders is simply the one of change. The word itself is common on campaign posters and amongst candidate

Church against killing of criminals

The National, Friday November 14th, 2014

THE Catholic Church has voiced its opposition to the death penalty during a public forum in Port Moresby.
Archbishop John Ribat said: “One could never be justified by killing another person.”
He said the “unjustified killing of young women for sorcery-related issues and the increase in rape cases” led Parliament to approve the death penalty.
“But is it justice or vengeance? Will it make people stop and think that what they are doing is wrong?” he said.
“The death penalty is for a world with no other options to deal with these monstrous acts.”
Ribat said the legislation on death penalty should be abolished.

K700m needed for facility

The National, Friday November 14th, 2014

THE Government needs about K700 million to build facilities for an execution chamber, Correctional Services Commissioner Michael Waipo says.
He revealed this during the one-day forum organised by Constitutional and Law Reform Commission in Port Moresby.
There are 13 men on death row waiting for a Government decision on their fate. 
“We haven’t been able to execute them because of legal requirements and our own capabilities of implementation,” Waipo said.
“The actual process of execution from start to finish is a precise process that involves a lot of details, from the moment of the pronunciation of the sentence right through to execution. 
“And so for us to implement, it’s still a long way away from realising it. And the issues surrounding those areas, we do not have the facilities to implement any of the methods of execution.” Waipo and officials had gone on a fact-finding mission to five countries recently. 
He said during the process of execution, there were requirements for officers to understand because they were dealing with human beings and their rights.
“There will be super-maximum security required that houses the execution chamber and the funeral facilities to deal with the remains of individual whose life has been taken,” he said.
“CS is the agency responsible; we are at the end of the law and justice sector chain of justice and our main functions are security and containment and rehabilitation of offence.”

Researcher: Death penalty can increase crime

The National, Friday November 14th, 2014

IMPLEMENTING the death penalty is likely to increase the crime  rate particularly against women, according to a researcher. 
Dr Fiona Hukula from the National Research Institute, who has a background in anthropology and criminology in gender and criminal justice, said implementing the death penalty would be harmful to women. Speaking at the Constitutional and Law Reform Commission forum yesterday, Hukula made references to two incidents reported in the media last year which highlighted cases of violence against women.
She said the two sorcery-related killings could have forced parliamentarians to pass the amendments to the criminal code. 
“It is important to acknowledge that the PNG Government is trying to address the issue of violence against women, hence the amendments to the criminal code,” she said. 
“The question is whether the implementation of the death penalty will serve its intended purpose – to deter violent crimes against women. 
“The non-availability of up-to-date data from key agencies such as the police means that we are not able to properly ascertain information about the levels if violent crimes against women.” 
She acknowledged that the media has played a large role in keeping violence against women on the agenda in PNG. 
“In terms of addressing violence against women in this country and in the context of applying the death penalty, it is important to question whether all the possibilities for punishment have been explored and if implementing the death penalty will truly serve as a deterrent,” she said.

What it will take to bring Bougainville to nationhood

Leonard Fong Roka

http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2014/11/what-it-will-will-take-to-bring-bougainville-to-nationhood.html#more 17 November 2014

IN the shimmering streets of Buka town last month, a pair of New Guineans and some young Bougainvillean ‘born-agains’ were preaching from the Bible.

Suddenly a young south Bougainvillean went to attack them but was ushered away and put on a boat to cross the Buka Passage. Seated beside me on the dinghy, he was in tears.

“Who do these redskins think they are?” he asked. “They dug up Panguna and gave us nothing and we went to war for our rights and now they’re coming back to tell us about Jesus.

“They haven’t even compensated us for stealing our wealth and declaring war on us.”

Panguna, as all Bougainvilleans know, is where the crisis that cost us so much originated.

This young man lost two uncles to the PNG Defence Force, he says because of the Panguna mine.

But still, to the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG), Panguna is still the place to help develop Bougainville so it can achieve its political ambitions. Millions of kina have been injected into seeking possible ways to settle the entangled conflicts over the Panguna mine and its proposed re-opening. ….

Wounded teacher strives to help students

Post Courier November 19, 2014

THE worst form of domestic violence in the case of teacher Jennifer Yuni Rame is to be shot at point blank range by her husband, then a prominent politician, 10 years ago. He shot and wounded her without saying a word while she was teaching in a remote school in West Sepik Province.

Ms Rame underwent 10 hours of surgery, received 72 stitches and was hospitalised for the next two years. She was forced to retrench on medical grounds after the ordeal but in 2010 she was recalled by the Teaching Service Commission to take up teaching again. During the past four years, she has accepted the lowest paid teaching position in the remote and run-down schools of West Sepik and Northern Provinces, just so that she can continue doing what she loves the most.

“I have gone back to the classroom to encourage children to see there is life beyond the one they can see,” she said. “I want to see all the children of this nation to prosper and advance.

“The opportunity of imparting knowledge to the students is what keeps me going all the time,” Ms Rame said. She is badly scarred and with disabilities but is helping the community at her current school to rebuild their school. She hopes to accomplish this through an income generating project for parents to produce virgin coconut oil so that they can send their children to schools.

Last week Ms Rame was awarded the 8th annual CPL Pride of PNG education role model award 2014 for her contribution in education, despite her traumatic personal experience.

Call For Research Into Poverty

The National, Nov 20, 2014

More research needs to be done to address poverty in the context of sustainable development, an academic says. Professor Betty Lovai, the executive dean of the School of Humanities and Social Science at the University of Papua New Guinea, said there was a knowledge gap in understanding poverty. Lovai talked on reducing poverty responsibly through sustainable development at the research, science and technology meeting in Port Moresby. She said seeing poverty was not the same as understanding poverty.“We have applied poverty model from other countries, however, it is how we response to poverty based on research. We have to deal with it and know the roots well before reducing it,” Lovai said. She said research should be done mainly on indigenous knowledge of sustaining livelihood of communities and blending traditional knowledge with expert knowledge. She said poverty reduction could also be achieved by meeting the basic needs of a community and having the ability to maintain and build on its resources.

Illuminating Corruption Trends In PNG

A Commentary by Sam Koim, Sunday, November 23, 2014 PNG Blogs

Corruption flourishes in secrecy and the ignorance of the people. Shedding light on corruption trends is therefore an integral part of curtailing the spread of this pernicious social disease hence this article.

A new trend of corruption appears to be emerging in the area of expenditure of development funds. It is rather a complicated and higher level of corruption. This time, well established businesses, even multi-national corporations are used to generate illicit gains for the firms and public officials. In most cases, the projects are so huge like “white elephants” that the spill out of economic rents is obscured. At the same time, the trumpeting of the unbroken economic boom is so loud that the voices of the silent suffering majority are barely audible.

The article seeks to expound on some of the common features of high level corruption and its effects on the economy and the wellbeing of the people and the country. See long article at www.pngblogs.com (November 23).

PNG votes against moratorium on abolishing death penalty

The National, Monday November 24th, 2014

PAPUA New Guinea on Friday voted against the resolution to establish a moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty globally, Amnesty International said.
Amnesty International reported that the vast majority of the world’s countries on Friday threw their weight behind a UN General Assembly resolution to establish a moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty globally.
One hundred and fourteen of the UN’s 193 member states voted in favour of the resolution which will go before the General Assembly Plenary for final adoption in December. Papua New Guinea went from abstention to a vote against the resolution, the report said

Health service delivery a challenge in PNG

Post Courier November 19, 2014

DELIVERY of health services is a challenge due to the lack of service delivery or developments in the rural areas and poor health infrastructure, according to a university academic. This has resulted in Papua New Guinea being grouped with countries with poor health indicators in the Asia-Pacific region. The University of Papua New Guinea (UPNG) School of Medicine and Health Sciences Professor Nakapi Tefuarani said this yesterday while presenting his paper at the sixth research, science and technology conference at the university. He said because of health workforce constraints, upgrading and developing infrastructure, lack of funding, rural and remote access, access to primary care services was poor. “This has also resulted in the closure of many aid posts throughout the rural Papua New Guinea, only 36 per cent of births occur in health facilities.

“Most deaths are from acute infectious diseases such as pneumonia, malaria, diarrhoea and meningitis that can be prevented or cured by simple and inexpensive means,” he said. Leading causes of deaths 0-10 year-olds are pneumonia, malaria, diarrhoea, meningitis, TB, typhoid, malnutrition, perinatal asphyxia, low birth weight, congenital abnormality and HIV/AIDS. Leading causes of death in adults are TB, HIV/AIDS, non-communicable diseases, pneumonia and malaria.

Papua New Guinea has a high infant mortality and maternal death rate with 48 from 1000 live births die and 63 children less than five-years-old of 1000 live births do not live and one out of 50 mothers die during labour.

Health funds to churches frequently delayed

Post Courier November 24, 2014,

Health services in Papua New Guinea are suffering because the Government is not releasing funds promptly enough. Chairman of Catholic Church Health Services (CCHS), Archbishop Stephen Reichert expressed his disappointment that the release of salary and operational funds to the Churches is frequently delayed. “We welcome the Government’s commitment to health care in the latest budget.” “However, we urge the Government to release funds on time to Churches who run health facilities in partnership with the Government Department of Health.”

“Over the past 18 months there have been frequent delays in the release of salary and operational grants for Church-run facilities.   As a result, many Church health workers are not paid for up to two or three months at a time. Surely this injustice and violation of the rights of Church health care providers is avoidable.”

“The constant delay in funding is unacceptable to the Church and disrespectful to the Church health workers who provide lifesaving services,” he said.

Archbishop Reichert explained that the Churches provide close to 50 per cent of all health care in Papua New Guinea; in remote and rural areas, where the majority of the people in the country live, that figure increases to around 80%.”

“I often hear that the Government seeks to work in closer partnership with Churches. Catholic Church Health Services (CCHS) welcomes this,” he said.

“By providing health services, the Churches actually save the Government money, but more importantly, they provide health services to people in areas the Government cannot reach.”

“On the Government’s part a clear expression of partnership is to pay the Churches on time, every time and according to budget so that the Churches can pay their workers on time.”

“The frequent late release of salary and operational grants is puzzling. Doesn’t Government care about Church health care providers and their families? Doesn’t Government care about the health of the people these health workers serve?   We are given no explanation,” he said.

“Church Health workers are highly committed people who often work in difficult and sometimes dangerous situations.”

“The very late payment of salaries, in particular, has adverse impacts on morale and performance.”

“If the Government is truly handing down a budget for families and the whole community, it must meet its basic commitment of paying Church health workers in a timely and just manner.”

Archbishop Reichert noted that the Government’s commitment of ensuring equal pay of Church and government workers has not yet fully happened.

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