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

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]

On the Contribution of Sport

Pastoral Letter of the Catholic Bishops Conference Of PNG/SI

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

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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

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? 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!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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

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

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 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 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

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:

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?

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.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Social Concerns Notes – January 2015

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

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. 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

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.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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

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

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 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

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

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


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 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.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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

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

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 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

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 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

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

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:

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 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 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

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 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 (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.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Social Concerns Notes – October 2014

Church’s new pastoral plan emphasises social concerns 30 Sept. 2014

A new Pastoral Plan for the Catholic Church in Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands places great emphasis on the family, the poor, youth, street kids and a wide range of social concerns.

The document was officially launched in Goroka on Sunday and is the culmination of two years of work within the church. It is the first time that Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands have developed a common Pastoral Plan. A new evangelization is at the core of the pastoral plan along with its social concerns and a new focus on the media.

“The world and the church are in the midst of a deep and ongoing crisis such as we have never experienced before”, the President of the Bishops’ Conference, Arnold Orowae of Wabag, said in his presentation of the plan. He said that young people especially live in uncertainty and fear of the future, adding that family breakdown, violence and corruption are on the rise.

Bishop Arnold also noted “an identity crisis in the priesthood and religious life”. He said the purpose evangelisation is not “simply getting people to become Christians or Catholics, or even necessarily getting people to come to church. “It is the whole process of announcing the living Christ. It is about living the consequences of our faith in Jesus Christ by bringing the gospel values of mercy, forgiveness and reconciliation into our lives, our workplace, and all our social, economic, and political responsibilities.”

Help for sorcery accused

The National, Wednesday 01st of October, 2014

AN international organisation plans to help more victims of sorcery-related crimes in the country.
Oxfam International associate country director Philippe Allen said sorcery-related killings was a challenging form of violence, compared to others, for agencies to assist in addressing.
Oxfam and its partner organisations are carrying out research to find the best way to address violence related to sorcery and providing help for victims whose lives are in danger.
“Many of these cases involve women and children who have suffered years of sexual abuse and other forms of physical violence,” Allen said.
“For these people, the only hope of a new life is to return to their home province or find refuge in a safe place.
“The risks are extreme for people accused of sorcery. 
“In these cases, if the person accused is not evacuated immediately, they could be murdered within days.”
A victim of a 2013 sorcery-related torture, who asked not to be identified, said victims of sorcery-related crimes wanted justice because many lives had been lost. Others are seeking refuge away from their homes.

Is foreign investment obsession eroding democracy in PNG? 1 October 2014

OFTEN described as “an island of gold floating on a sea of oil”, Papua New Guinea is one of the top ten resource-dependent economies in the world. But robust economic growth rates have not led to any decrease in PNG’s poverty rate over the last 20 years.

Although the benefits of economic growth are not reaching the vast majority of the population, Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has repeatedly cited the need to create a stable political environment to boost foreign investor confidence. Since ascending to power, O’Neill has endlessly promoted “political stability” to justify a daunting array of anti-democratic measures which cynics perceive as a thinly veiled attempt to prolong his own leadership.

First, he has amended the Constitution to extend the period during which any vote of no confidence against the prime minister is prohibited, from 30 months previously to now a total of 43 months out of the 60-month (5 year) term between elections.

A second change has been to reduce the minimum number of parliamentary sitting days to just 40 days per year, and to increase the number of MPs who must sponsor any motion for a vote of no confidence.

Further measures include sacking the Treasurer and Attorney-General, as well as Ministers for Petroleum & Resources, Higher Education and Industrial Relations, all within the last three months.

Although such action could be perceived as undermining political stability, the reason given in each case was the need for stability. In the case of the Treasurer, his sacking followed his opposition to a proposed loan that would raise national debt to a level he felt to be irresponsibly high.

In response, O’Neill appointed himself Acting Treasurer and unilaterally approved the loan. The Ombudsman has since referred O’Neill to the Public Prosecutor for alleged misconduct in bypassing proper parliamentary processes for approving the loan.

The Attorney-General was sacked for opposing O’Neill’s proposed Constitutional amendment relating to votes of no confidence. Just days earlier, O’Neill had commended the Attorney-General as one of the best-performing ministers.

More worryingly, O’Neill has also disbanded the anti-corruption task force he had himself set up. This occurred immediately after it recommended police action on evidence that O’Neill had improperly authorised approximately $US30 million in payments to a law firm.

O’Neill further sacked the Police Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner who signed the arrest warrant against him. The National Court recently granted a permanent stay against the disbandment of the task force.

By punishing any traces of dissent within the ranks of government, dismissing senior officers exercising independent oversight of prime ministerial action, and removing any effective voice of Opposition on the floor of Parliament, O’Neill has seriously curtailed the public’s right to information which could properly influence their vote. In the words of Article 25 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, each of these measures appears to be an “unreasonable restriction” on the right to “free expression of the will of the electors”. Adhering to human rights principles of transparency and accountability is particularly crucial in a young and fragile democracy seeking to strengthen the rule of law.

Foreign investors have responded to this ongoing corrosion of democracy by continuing to call for “stability” – no doubt music to the Prime Minister’s ears, but a setback for the country’s adherence to human rights.

Pato briefs UN on MDG progress

Post Courier October 03,2014, 12:58 am

FOREIGN Affairs and Immigration Minister Rimbink Pato has briefed the United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York on Papua New Guinea’s Millennium Development Goal (MDG) progress. PNG’s country statement in areas that include education, health care and gender equality was well received in the forum of the UN 192 member countries, according to a Foreign Affairs statement yesterday. Mr Pato also reflected on global progress to attain the Millennium Development Goals and the future of these ongoing efforts.

“The international community, including Papua New Guinea, stands at an important crossroad where the Millennium Development Goals is coming to its conclusion in December 2015,” he said.

“The MDGS are to be superseded by a new set of global Sustainable Development Goals in 2016 and Papua New Guinea is committed to be part of this important process.

Mr Pato said collective international action to attain the MDGs has galvanised the global community’s collective efforts to combating poverty and improving people’s lives like never before. “For Papua New Guinea, the O’Neill Government remains fully committed to attaining the eight MDGs and this is still a work in progress.

The 2015 Papua New Guinea budget: ten criteria for success By Paul Flanagan on September 30, 2014

This is an interesting but long article. Those interested can access the url above.


Gay union taboo in PNG

The National, Monday 06th of October, 2014

VLAD Sokhin, videographer of the film Guavas and Bananas: Living Gay in PNG said no one really talks about legalising gay marriage in Papua New Guinea.
The film shown during the Human Rights Film Festival this year highlighted concerns by the gay community in finding safety when expressing their sexuality, their struggle and hope for acceptance in PNG. 
Sokhin said his decision to make the film was based on the fact that such topics were rarely discussed because of their sensitivity.
He said there were accounts of brutality of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.
“They were telling me horrible stories of gang rapes, beatings, or even killings of gay people that happened some years ago in Moresby,” he said. 
“I understood that these accounts should be heard by people in PNG and overseas so that not just me, but members of PNG lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community can tell their stories.”
PNG outlaws homosexuality and sodomy is a criminal offence punishable by up to 14 years imprisonment.

Shocking stats in OHE report

The National, Wednesday October 8th, 2014

ONLY 4500 of the 17,000 students who sat for the national examinations last year were selected for tertiary institutions, a report has revealed.
The report was prepared by officials of the Office of Higher Education titled “2013-14 National selection performance analysis”.
It disclosed that this year, more than  23,000 Grade 12 students will sit for the national examinations.
OHE scholarship officer Terence Pogo said out of the 23,000, only 4000 to 5000 would enter tertiary institutions next year.

Murders related to sorcery, land disputes on rise

The National, Thursday October 9th, 2014

MURDERS related to sorcery and land disputes in Northern are on the rise, provincial police commander Jacob Singura says.
He said it was becoming a major concern for police and communities.
Police received at least one murder incident report related to land or sorcery each week from villages on the outskirts of the province, Singura said.
Murder weapons used are knives and hunting spears and killings are usually gruesome and horrifying, he said.
He said sometimes police were not able to attend to reports in remote parts for reasons such as lack of vehicles and money and he felt sad.
Singura urged disputing parties to use violent-free means of settling disputes instead of causing harm to each other. 
“Christianity is influential in many communities and we should practice what we preach by forgiving others or adhere to proper channels of mediation or come to the police to resolve issues.”
Meanwhile, a murder was reported at the Musa local level government area, and Singura put together a team to make a three-day journey to the trouble spot.
 Singura said he would wait for days before receiving reports from his officers.
Such cases are examples of issues facing police in rural stations, he said.

4000 arrest orders yet to be executed

The National, Monday 13th of October, 2014

THERE are about 4000 outstanding bench warrants in the country, some dating back 20 to 25 years, Justice Panuel Mogish says.
He told reporters during the second court-user forum last Friday in Kokopo that the execution of the bench warrants by police was “dismal”.
“Approximately 2000 of these people are in the system so you are looking at a total accused population of around 6000. 
“But more than half are on bench warrants,” he said.
“That is the biggest problem we have in the criminal justice system. How do we get people back into the system to pay for their crimes?
“In fact every time the court issues a bench warrant, it is never executed but just adds to the list.”
Mongish said in East New Britain alone, 209 bench warrants had been issued since 1999. 
“We should not forget that for 500 people on bench warrants, we have 500 victims who deserve the right to know the outcome so we should not so much focus on the interest of the accused but think about the concerns felt by the victims,” Mogish said.

Youth returns lost camera

The National, Monday 13th of October, 2014

A YOUNG man at Wom village, west of Wewak has put the smile back on the face of an Australian soldier who lost his portable camera last week.
Patrick Nango handed over the underwater digital camera he found after the soldier had dropped it near the beach.
The Australian soldiers are renovating the rundown facilities at Moem Barracks.
They were told last Friday that someone had found a camera while diving. They all went down to the beach with Wewak Island LLG president Pius Bugatar and the village councillor to receive the camera.
The owner of the camera was not present but Sgt Major Adrian Brooks, who received the camera, said: “He will be over the moon. We will come back with the soldier to say thank you.”
The villagers said they saw him in tears when he could not find the camera and tried to find it for him.
Bugatar said Patrick’s father had helped return the soldiers’ laptops, cameras, firearm and other valuables stolen when they were there 10 years back. He was grateful he had taken after his father.
“This is the way forward in promoting tourism and I commend young Patrick for doing what is right,” Bugatar said.

United Nations: Death penalty not effective remedy

Post Courier October 14,2014, 02:02 am

LAST Friday marked the World Day Against the Death Penalty, a commemoration that United Nations leaders around the world are supporting. It followed last week’s announcement that Cabinet will soon decide which mode of capital punishment is to be implemented in PNG, says UN resident co-ordinator Roy Trivedy who acknowledged the Government’s intention to address serious crime.

However, he believes introducing the death penalty was not an effective remedy.

“There is no evidence that introducing the death penalty will act as a deterrent. Statistics from countries that have abolished the death penalty indicate no increase in serious crime,” Mr Trivedy said in a statement.

“Implementing capital punishment would expose the people of Papua New Guinea to the risk of an irreversible sanction; one which prohibits the correction of mistakes.”

In March this year the UN Independent Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary and arbitrary executions visited PNG and in his preliminary findings, strongly encouraged PNG to refrain from using the death penalty, stating:

“While I acknowledge the magnitude of the challenge that the Government faces when addressing the high levels of killings and violence in the country, I am of the opinion that the death penalty is not the adequate answer to this situation,” Mr Trivedy said.

“It provides a false sense of security and diverts attention from the real long term solutions such as better policing, development and education.”

Mr Trivedy supports the Government’s intent of tackling major crime, but believes there are more effective measures that can be implemented to address the country’s high rate of crime.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights also recently made a statement on moving away from the death penalty, highlighting that the poor, the mentally ill, the powerless and people from minorities are disproportionate among those executed.

There are currently 13 prisoners around the country who are on death row for various serious crimes.

Report opposes death penalty

The National, Thursday October 16th, 2014

THE country will be violating international standards should the Government impose the death penalty, a United Nations preliminary report has highlighted. 
The report was prepared by Christof Heyns, the UN’s independent special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary and arbitrary executions, on his visit to the country in March.
It discouraged the Government from imposing the death penalty. 
Heyns said PNG was considered a defacto abolitionist State at international level with regard to the imposition of the death penalty.
The last execution occurred in 1954 and PNG is among countries which have abolished it.
“I strongly encourage the Government to maintain this international positioning of PNG and refrain from any use of the death penalty,” he said.
“There is a sustained global trend to move away from the death penalty because its weaknesses are now widely recognised

Youths urged to stay away from drugs

Post Courier October 14,2014, 02:02 am

LALOKI Psychiatric Hospital chief executive officer Getzo Yamele is urging the youths to be meaningfully engaged so that they do not turn to drugs.

“The young people between 18 and 30 are the productive people in the country’s development. However, when they don’t find anything, they get bored and turn to drugs and alcohol,” Mr Yamele said during the World Mental Health Day celebration on Friday.

He revealed disturbing statistic to back his point. Last year the hospital had 208 admissions, 91 of them were cannabis-induced psychosis. This represented 43 percent of admission. Mr Yamele said this caused overcrowding and blew out the hospital’s tight budget for food and medication.

Acute care ward manager, Sister Dianne Rambe says that many of the patients who were affected by drug abuse were often confused about why they were in the psychiatric hospital and try to escape when the effect of the drug wears off.

The demand to care for such patients has increased in the past few years as Laloki Psychiatric Hospital admits mentally ill patients from all over the country.

Police fire 491 rogue cops over seven years

The National, Tuesday October 14th, 2014

POLICE have confirmed that 491 police officers were sacked between 2007 and last year because of serious disciplinary matters.
Acting Deputy Police Commissioner Jim Andrews said these officers were served with serious disciplinary orders. In that same period, 1792 officers were investigated on disciplinary matters and 353 of the cases were dismissed because the adjudicators found no evidence against the officers.
Andrews released the statistics following the attack on a University of PNG lecturer and three students last week, allegedly by police officers.
He said 248 demotions were recorded in that period and 700 cases of fines were imposed on officers guilty of minor disciplinary matters.
Andrews said the statistics proved that over the years, the constabulary had swiftly investigated complaints against police officers and those guilty were punished accordingly. 
He said cases of police brutality reported in the media affected the constabulary’s public image but it would continue to investigate such complaints.

Over 200,000 people living with diabetes

The National, Tuesday October 14th, 2014

AROUND five amputations are done every week in the country on people suffering from diabetes, a doctor says.
Dr Poyap J Rooney of the Port Moresby General Hospital revealed this during an outreach and testing on volunteers.
Rooney said there were about 250,000 diabetics in the country, however, he added that the figure could be higher because a lot of people had not been tested on their sugar levels.
He said he was interested in forming an association to be run by diabetics themselves to carry out awareness on the disease.
Rooney is planning to register a Papua New Guinea Association of Diabetics Inc to be a voice for the people living with diabetes. 
“I believe this will greatly improve the care of people with diabetes as well as other chronic illnesses,” he said.
He said diabetics could lead to other chronic illnesses such as sores and blindness.

Politicise government departments with departmental heads appointed only by Ministers – Peter From 14 October

PM O’Neill’s latest move is the new proposed law to have Ministers choose departmental heads and this was a secret evil move that seriously undermines a democractic system of checks and balances.

The reason why our constitution was written to prohibit ministers from appointing those underneath them in the various ministries and departments was to ensure necessary checks and balances to maintain a democratic form of government, which mean having departments that were not politicised.

Departmental secretaries were always chosen independent of the minister because they were the truest experts in the activities covered by that ministry.   Ministers, on the other hand, often are interested in that area of work but actually know very little about it.  They should not be allowed to have full power over a ministry, otherwise all priorities become political priorities focusing on certain districts or provinces, rather than development priorities that focus on the nation as a whole and bringing it forward as a whole by putting each development in the place where it will bring the greatest payoff to the nation as a whole.

In a number of democracies in the world, even the ministers of departments are not active politicians.  Two examples are France and the United States, where the appointed Ministers are not active politicians and some have never been elected to any office.   For example, Hillary Clinton was not in any elected office when she served as the Secretary (same as a Minister) of State under Obama and Obama has picked people from the opposition political party to be Secretaries although none are currently in an elected office.  In Malaysia, Universiti Sains Malaysia vice-chancellor Tan Sri Dr Musa Mohamed was a non-politician who was appointed Minister of Higher Education in 1999.  Peter O’Neill  has gone exact opposite of democracy in the changes he is making to our government.

Kereme: New law opens way for wantok system

Post Courier October 15,2014, 02:30 am

THE Public Service Commission has warned that the days of cronyism may return to the appointment process of government officials with the removal of the merit-based assessment powers from the Public Services Commission. PSC chairman Philip Kereme and his two commissioners Apeo Fuata Sione and Rachel Wii have expressed concern that the removal of these powers and placing it with the ministerial committee is not in the best interest of the public service.

“The Public Services Commission was never consulted on the removal of its powers to conduct merit-based assessment on the appointment of departmental heads, provincial administrators and chief executive officers of regulatory statutory authorities,” Mr Kereme said in a statement on behalf of the commissioners.

Measles Cases Continue to Rise

Solomon Times Monday, 29 September 2014

A dramatic rise in cases of measles in Solomon Islands reminds the community that the fight against measles is not yet over.

Reports that “measles cases are slowly decreasing” are inaccurate. In fact, cases of measles are increasing and spreading throughout the provinces.

“The Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS) can confirm that over 2300 cases of measles have been reported since the outbreak began in July this year,” said Dr. Aaron Oritaimae, Incident Controller of the Ministry of Health’s Emergency Operations Centre.

“Over 829 cases of measles were reported in the last week alone, and it is likely that there are many more cases which have not been reported. There have also been an additional three measles-related deaths, bringing the total death count to six.”Dr. Oritaimae reminds the public that the measles vaccination is free and available to all aged 6 months to 30 years in Honiara and Guadalcanal Province as part of the National Measles Vaccination Campaign.

Man to look after brother for his life

The National, Wednesday October 15th, 2014

A MAN who admitted cutting off the hands of his younger brother has pledged to look after him.
The brothers from the Baiyer River area in Western Highlands had a row resulting in the injuries.
The older brother agreed to the deal after their uncles from their mother’s side demanded compensation from him for hurting his younger sibling Wambia Kungu.
As the compensation, he agreed to provide food, shelter, clothing and even feed him.
The leaders said the big brother and his young brother had an argument resulting in a fight.
The big brother chopped off his young brother’s left hand first. Eyewitnesses said the big brother then chopped off the right hand fearing that his younger brother might use it later to attack him.

Gender violence threat to growth, EU envoy says

The National, Thursday October 16th, 2014

EUROPEAN Union ambassador Dr Martin Dihm discussed gender violence with senior lecturers of primary teachers’ colleges in Port Moresby this week. 
Thirty lecturers from around PNG addressed the need to stand against gender-related violence.
“Gender violence is a threat to the growth of any society,”  Dihm said.
“Education needs to turn the table and take a leading role in striving for a peaceful society where the human rights of everybody are protected.” 
Dihm said the role of teacher training institutions was crucial to the issue.
Lecturers discussed approaches to fight gender violence and to make a change. 
Suggestions ranged from extra-curricular activities to changes in the curriculum. 
The lecturers agreed influence at an early age was vital. “Therefore, primary teachers’ colleges need to plant the seed for a violence free society in the hearts and minds of their students,” Dihm said.

UN proposes set up of human rights institution in country

The National, Thursday October 16th, 2014

THE United Nations has proposed that national human rights institutions be established in the country. 
According to a preliminary report by Christof Heyns, the UN’s independent special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary and arbitrary executions, the institutions “play an important role in many societies around the world in a promotional as well as protective function”. “The idea to establish a NHRI in PNG has been accepted for long time ago. This idea should now be implemented,” he said.
“The Government should give strong consideration to establishing at the same time a provincial office of the NHRI in at least one province, for example Chimbu.
“Among other things such a branch can play an important role in dealing with the issue of witchcraft and sorcery accusation related violence in that province.”
“There is no well-established general human rights NGO in the country,” he said.
He suggested that the University of PNG could play a role by creating a law clinic and establish a centre for human rights.
He said there were a limited number of lawyers available to provide assistance to indigent individuals.
“The public solicitor provides free legal assistance in criminal matters to those that face a sentence of two years or more and are unable to afford another lawyer. Private lawyers are expensive and very few practise criminal law,” he said.
He said a few lawyers were interested in joining the Office of the Public Prosecutor due to poor benefits, as in inadequate housing.
“Improving the benefits could attract further solicitors country wide to ease the workload of the existing ones.”

Women Cop swap countries to learn domestic violence prevention

Post Courier October 16, 2014

Two female police officers working on domestic violence prevention in Papua New Guinea and Australia have swapped countries, and have been surprised by the laws and culture that dictate domestic violence patterns on the other side. Australian Federal Police (AFP) Officer Michelle Harris is working in Papua New Guinea, while her counterpart, Rachel Pinda, has just finished an AFP funded placement with the Northern Territory Police in Australia, working with their Sexual Offences Unit. Officer Harris said she was shocked by the extent to which domestic violence is ingrained in PNG culture. “Domestic violence is actually socially perceived as a normal aspect of a woman’s life, strangely, and in their perspective, remains wholly a family matter and shouldn’t be discussed publicly,” she said. … She said because abuse was so intrinsically linked to culture, women were often ashamed to report violence. “It is underreported and often women and girls do not know where to seek help,” she said. Officer Harris said she found there was a serious lack of support services available to the huge number of women who experienced abuse, and they often had nowhere to turn.

PNG policewoman Rachel Pinda, who has been serving on an AFP placement in the Northern Territory, agreed that cultural norms prevented women from seeking help. “They are very strong-willed women but most of them, who are married to those such men, they feel in fear,” she said. “I think it’s because of the way we were brought up to respect men, and the customary thing within it too, even educated women with the fear inside them, that ‘my husband’s going to this and that and that’ or it’ll be a disgrace to my family if I report that, it’s just these things that they still believe in.” Gender-based violence in Australia is nowhere near the proportions of Papua New Guinea, but still alarmingly high, with a third of women having experienced physical violence, and one fifth experiencing sexual assault. But in Australia, domestic violence law is enforced, and abuse is not condoned by society or viewed as the man’s right.

Good news on the gender front in Papua New Guinea

By Stephen Howes, Andrew Anton Mako, Anthony Swan, Grant Walton, Thomas Webster and Colin Wiltshire on October 17, 2014

All too often, the gender news coming out of Papua New Guinea is bad. Whether it is high levels of domestic violence, or few women in parliament, there is a lot to work on. But it is not all bad news. Here is some good news, from our 2012 survey of 360 primary schools and health clinics (health centres and aid posts) across eight provinces in PNG. Many of the same schools and clinics were surveyed in 2002 as well. That means we can look at how the proportion of female teachers, prinicipals (head teachers), health workers, and health clinic managers (officers in charge) has changed over the last decade. The last decade has in fact seen a transformation in the gender composition of PNG’s educational workforce. In 2002, only 13 per cent of primary school principals were females. In 2012, it was 27 per cent, more than double. The number of female teachers also increased sharply: from 27 to 55 per cent. (Note that we only surveyed the gender of Grade 5 teachers, but we use this to generalize about primary school teachers.) In other words, whereas a decade ago only one-quarter of PNG’s primary school teachers were female, now more than half are.

Sickening long wait

Post Courier October 20,2014, 01:23 am

PATIENTS are waiting for hours – even days – to be seen by a doctor or a nurse at the accident and emergency department of the Port Moresby General Hospital. It has become a norm. Last week, a staff from the Post-Courier joined the queue and had to wait for 15 hours before he was seen by a doctor.

Attempts by the newspaper to get comments from the hospital chief executive officer Grant Muddle were unsuccessful. The Post-Courier staff reported that one of the patients died while waiting. Another patient complained that he had waited for one week to see a doctor after being referred by the Nine-Mile clinic.

On Monday October 13, at 8am Dr Kore informed an overcrowded accident and emergency section that she would be the only doctor that day and would be dealing with the “very sick” and those who were not so sick would have to wait until a doctor came along. She also clearly informed patients that “this is not an outpatient and therefore the very sick would be given priority.”

True to her words, Dr Kore worked tirelessly, skipping lunch, and at 4.30pm was still there. If there was a worker who gave exemplary service without fear and favour, Dr Kore would fill that category.

Police attack fraud squad detectives

Post Courier October 21,2014

DETECTIVE Sergeant Patrick Primenga had a pistol pointed at his head and the trigger pulled but the gun did not go off, says head of the National Fraud and Anti-Corruption directorate Mathew Damaru.

On Sunday Sgt Primenga and members of the fraud squad had just completed the task for the day serving contempt of court charges and had returned home when he was assaulted.

A convoy of police vehicles, with 15 armed policemen, drove to his house at Games village Police Barracks, Waigani, and started assaulting him by throwing punches and deflated one of the tyres to one of the squad vehicles that he had parked in front of his house, Chief Supt Damaru said.

He said one of the policemen pointed a pistol at Sgt Primenga at close range and pulled the trigger, but the gun did not go off.

So he pointed to the roof and pulled the trigger again and the gun went off and the bullet went through the roof of his house. All these happened in full view of the sergeant’s children and wife.

After the attack on Sgt Primenga they went to Sabama Police Barracks and threatened the family of another officer. Supt Damaru said that despite the attacks, his team would continue to serve the contempt charges without fear or favour.

O’Neill to review asylum policy

The National, Tuesday October 21st, 2014

PRIME Minister Peter O’Neill has told his Australian counterpart Tony Abbott that Papua New Guinea was committed to the agreement on the processing of asylum seekers on Manus.
They met briefly in Port Moresby on Sunday before they flew off separately to Indonesia to attend the inauguration of President Joko Widodo.
They discussed the regional resettlement arrangement of asylum seekers at the Lombrum regional processing centre in Manus.
O’Neill assured Abbott that PNG was committed to the implementation of the resettlement agreement. Given its sensitivity, he said it required time to work through the issues.
Abbott was accompanied by Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Scott Morrison. O’Neill told Abbott that he supported the work by officials from both countries in addressing the resettlement of the asylum seekers in Manus. He said due to lack of understanding and support for refugee settlement in PNG communities, a new policy would be prepared with increased focus on consultation and building public awareness and support.
“The new policy will be considered by Cabinet after these comprehensive public awareness and consultations are completed,” O’Neill said.

Students affected by attack on school

Post Courier October 22,2014, 12:00 pm

Preparations for the Grade 8 National Examinations for students attending St Francis of Assisi Kuluanda primary school in Tari, Hela Province will be greatly affected. This follows the suspension of classes for two weeks after an attack on the staff and school allegedly by local youths under the influence of alcohol and illicit substances. Kuluanda is one of the biggest primary schools in Tari district and is run by the Catholic Church. After the unplanned demolition of the neighbouring Tari Admin primary school late last year to make way for the development of Tari town and airport, Kuluanda has being placed under unprecedented stress to accommodate for the influx of students from Tari Admin, bulk of which are public servants’ children. The school has managed to overcome over-crowdedness, congestion and the lack of facilities to cater for the children’s’ education and the attack on the staff and school only adds salt to the wounds. Tari based Catholic parish priest Fr Nick Yambu confirmed this from Tari yesterday, adding that the national examination preparations for the 80 plus grade eight students who sit for their final exams that starts nationwide next week would be severely affected and they may not get the desired results as teachers refused to take up classes due to the attack. Fr Yambu said it was the sixth attack this year by the same group of boys that live within the precincts of the school.

School Facilities Not Ideal For Children With Disability

The National, Oct 22nd, 2014

Classrooms and learning facilities in schools are not ideally designed for children with disability, a man who knows all about it says. Rex Larry, an occupant of the Morobe Disability Home, said children with disability were not benefitting from the government’s free education policy because most of them remained at home due to facilities in schools being inaccessible.“Most of them are supposed to be in school but are now on the street looking for opportunities to help themselves,” Larry said. “This academic year will end with most of the children with disability not being able to be educated formally.”Larry said there were no wheelchair paths to classrooms, no sign language teachers for the hearing impaired students and those children with speaking problems could not communicate with their peers. “Children with disability are caught with these barriers when trying to access the government’s free education policy. The Australian government, under its Strongim Pipol Strongim Nesen (SPSN) project, has partnered with the board of disabled persons, the National Assembly of Persons with Disability and the National Orthotic and Prosthetic Services and initiated the Assistive Devices Delivery (ADD) project.

Papua New Guinea monetary policy – a very slippery slope?

PNG Blogs Friday, October 24, 2014 By Paul Flanagan 

On 30 September, PNG’s central bank (BPNG) released their six monthly monetary policy statement. This was a mixture of good and bad news.

Good news

On the good news side. First, it is positive that the statement came out and continued a positive pattern of transparency of major six-monthly updates (on top of shorter monthly updates). Some countries don’t do this – and this can damage their credibility.

Bad news

First, inflation is expected to be around 8 per cent, a considerable jump from the 6 per cent forecast by the PNG Treasury only two months earlier. Inflation is known to especially hurt the poor.

Slippery slope?

There is even more worrying implicit bad news. First, the statement presents as a positive a new agreement that the central bank will purchase from the Treasury any government bills or inscribed stocks that aren’t picked up by the private market. BPNG will then make these bills available to small investors to purchase (through their TAP facility). In theory, this sounds great. In reality, it is disastrous. There is now an imperceptibly fine line between what the bank is doing and the bank simply printing money to fund the growing budget deficit. Small investors are not buying the new central bank bills. So the central bank is now providing almost unlimited financing for any deficit. Once started, this near printing of money can be a very addictive habit for any government.

This agreement by the central bank to purchase bills and stocks that the private sector doesn’t want, despite very significant increases in interest rates, is an extremely worrying step down what can be a very slippery slope. Some may argue that this process, also known as a form of “quantitative easing” or “unconventional monetary policy” is being used in the US and Japan and possibly Europe to try and stimulate the economy after the Global Financial Crisis. However, the circumstances are very different. In the US and Europe and Japan, there are few inflationary concerns – indeed, the worry has been about deflation. In PNG, as noted above, the worry is the significant upward trend in inflation to 8 per cent. Economic history is filled with examples of how printing money can quickly over-heat an economy.

(See the source reference above for the full article.)


The beauty of the flowers for church is the beauty of Maria 24 October 2014   Bomai De Witne

MEMBERS of the Liklik Kristen Komuniti at Mary Help of Christian Parish-Kefamo come from many different provinces in PNG.

There are a lot of older people in their 40s and 50s from the Simbu Province who settled in the Gahuku and Mimanalo local level government areas a few decades ago. A few are working class people who live and work in Goroka town and attend Sunday church service at Kefamo.

Each of the settlers has a story to tell of how they came to settle on the land they are occupying.

Last week, old John Gior told me he had problems with the son of a landowner who, under the influence of liquor, attempted to use force to remove him. I found out from John that he made arrangement to settle on the land from the father of the drunkard but since then the man had passed away. The drunkard son did not accept any agreement between John and his late father.

There are similar land related issues facing people who came more than two decades ago, settled on customary land and are now being forced to leave by the children of the landowners.

In the absence of a binding legal document, the settlers are increasingly threatened by these children. They are asking for compensation for developing the land and the payments they have made over the years. The children of the landowners refuse to accept such demands and have shifted the blame to their dead parents and relatives. Many Kefamo parishioners who settled on customary land in Goroka face the ongoing threat of losing their homes.

However these problems have not deterred them from living their Catholic faith.

They find time to get together for prayers in their Liklik Kristen Komunitiand give to Sunday Eucharistic celebrations. Most of them use the limited land for food crops. But Maria Philip told me she allocates a large portion of her backyard to planting flowers. She has been trained to know how to plant and arrange flowers for important events – and the most important event is the flowers to decorate her church. She brings a variety of flowers every week and nicely arranges them in buckets and places them at the altar.Last weekend she brought flowers as usual and showed me and the children how to arrange them in the church. Maria never runs out of smiles and also encourages other families to grow flowers for church. She commits her house for weekly prayer sessions for Saint Lazarus Liklik Kristen Komuniti. Maria’s husband, Philip Mogia, works as a driver at the Papua New Guinea Medical Research Institute and is very supportive of his wife and Liklik Kristen Komuniti.

They have grown up children and a grandchild who they encourage to attend Sunday services.

At a time when PNG faces so many socio-economic, cultural and religious problems which affect people in different ways, Catholics need to step up in living their faith. I can only compare Maria’s beauty with the beauty of the flowers she grows and brings to church each week.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Social Concerns Notes – September 2014

First PNG Children Website In The Making

By Sr Mary Claude Gadd – Madang

The Catholic Children’s Ministry PNG was created by the Catholic Bishops of Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands at their Annual General Meeting of April 2013 in Madang. That was the time when they asked Sr Mary Claude Gadd  to further develop the children’s ministry in the Church. Soon it will have its own website: www.CatholicChildren’

Sr. Mary Claude, you are not young anymore, but you are taking the children’s ministry to the internet. Where did that idea come from?

From the Holy Spirit!  And it’s true, I’m not 21 anymore, but I am young at heart!  And also if we want to evangelize the world, then we have to go where it is and most of it is on the internet! I think it was Pope Francis who said we must go where the sheep are and we know that many sheep spend a lot of time on the internet.  The new website shall feature and showcase to the world Catholic activities being carried out in PNG on behalf of our most vulnerable children.

Apparently there is not much being done for children in Papua New Guinea outside the traditional schools our Church has always provided.

It’s not true! Thus far I have identified close to twenty (20) special Programs being carried out across PNG by Catholic individuals or organizations on behalf of disadvantaged and needy children. We plan to update the website regularly with opportunities for everyone to send in new stories and photos of recent activities.  Once this website is up and running all of us can make reference to it, where people can see what we are doing to help build a child-safe Papua New Guinea.  And by the way, we also hope to eventually link the website with Facebook and Twitter so many more can see what God is doing in PNG!

Are the current Catholic activities for children’s welfare well distributed around Papua New Guinea?

Yes, I would say so. They’re mostly present in the bigger cities though I am confident we will eventually find some meaningful programs in many smaller places as well. In Port Moresby, for example, we have Fr. John Glynn’s We care! Foundation (for Women and Children at Risk) and the Sacred Heart Brothers’Program, Save our Children and Youth (SOCAY). In Lae, Fr. Arnold Schmitt runs a Program for Street Children; in Mt. Hagen Mercy Works has the “Taxi Boys” Program. In Kundiawa Dr Fr Jan Jaworski, MD, has St. Bernadette’s Hospital School for school age patients. The ambulatory young patients attend classes every day; the bedridden one have the teachers come to their bedside.  Callan Services operates in several dioceses caring for children who are differently abled.  All over PNG through our Health Centres and VCTS, Sr. Tarcisia Hunhoff, ssps, directs the Mother to Child HIV/AIDS Transmission Prevention Program as well care for children affected and infected with HIV/AIDS; Fr. Valentine Gryk, SVD, from Goroka,  directs the Missionary Childhood Program and the Missionaries of Charity in different parts of PNG are running a new Catechesis Program for Early Childhood aged children.  Many of our parishes have Junior Legion of Mary Programs as well as Sunday School Programs for young children.  One of our Catholic Secondary Schools has a Peer Education Program against HIV/AIDS called Warriors of Hope.  Fifteen (15) of our dioceses have two or more Diocesan Child Protection Officers (DCPOs) who work tirelessly to educate the public on Lukautim Pikinini Act 2009, on Child Abuse and the Rights of Children. In the near future we shall be training some 600 Parish Child Protection Volunteers.  They will help the DCPOs to educate the public and create in the local communities a protective environment for our children. On the drawing board for the Archdiocese of Mt Hagen is a new family home for abandoned and neglected children. What emerges from all this is a portrait of the “integrated human development” of the most vulnerable members of our society. There is a lot going on, but there is a lot more to be done yet.  For example, there is the alarmingly high number of abandoned babies in our hospitals and other health care facilities, the displaced victims of sorcery especially children, children with disabilities or mental health problems needing skilled caregivers, the Disaster Risk Reduction in high risk areas such as mining and primary industries and finally how to salvage from further harm the young children already engaged in the sex industry of Night Clubs in Port Moresby.

TB a huge burden for children

Post Courier, September 02,2014

TUBERCULOSIS (TB) is a huge burden for children, says Dr William Lagani, the Health Department’s manger for family health services. He told the symposium that in 10 provincial hospitals last year there were a total of 2455 children admitted with tuberculosis, with 268 known deaths, and a case fatality rate of 10.9 percent. Dr Lagani said childhood TB reflected the high transmission rate of TB in the community, the impact of HIV epidemic on TB cases and urban poverty. Pulmonary TB and TB meningitis contribute substantially to high rates of child mortality, malnutrition and impaired neurological and cognitive development.

Progress in child TB will require better links between the National TB program and child health.

He said suggested some measures for that were needed to address TB burden. He said there was a need for a Health Department policy of keeping patients in hospital for the full duration of their intensive phase treatment whenever feasible. Anther measure was to have TB Outreach nurses follow patients from hospital wards to home and supervise their care, and ensuring TB drug was available in all health centres.

Dr Lagani called for the training of health workers on child TB management, through the hospital care for children course, ensuring the availability of tuberculin solution in hospitals, and introduction of GeneX-pert testing in more provincial hospitals.

Symposium reveals cancer burden in PNG

Post Courier, September 01, 2014

THE medical symposium in Goroka has heard that the country’s cancer burden has reached unacceptable levels and needs addressing at the primary level and not only at the secondary and tertiary levels. “By the time we refer a patient to the tertiary level most of the time it is only for palliative treatment. They usually will not survive, “says CEO of Kimbe General Hospital Dr Victor Golpak. “Our cancer mortality rates are not accurate because the majority of our cancer patients are discharged to die at home.” Furthermore, the majority of these patients present at the point of definitive treatment too late, for various reasons such as lack of access to a health institution, failure of a primary health worker to recognize the disease, failure of a hospital worker to recognize the disease, failure of the system to allow prompt referral to an appropriate specialist, failure of the system to provide necessary resources to properly investigate and treat affected patients, failure of the patient to recognize his or her own problem, especially if there is no pain.

Dr Golpak said primary health includes awareness and risk communication to all levels of the community. It also includes properly managed programs like active screening for risk factors and detection of early lesions, and also prevention programs as in immunization against causative agents.

“In PNG we do not have a formal cancer screening service to pick up early lesions of common cancers that are treatable if detected early,”

Officers to stand trial

The National, Tuesday September 2nd, 2014

 SIX police officers have been committed to stand trial in the National Court over their alleged involvement in the brutal treatment of a group of men in Port Moresby last year. 
Waigani Committal Court magistrate Cosmas Bidar ruled that there was enough evidence to commit them to stand trial in the higher court. 
Bidar extended the police officers’ bail and ordered them to appear in the National Court on October 6 for listings. 
The officers were charged with 44 counts of armed robbery and 31 counts of unlawful wounding. 
It related to an incident that occurred at 8-Mile on May 26 last year involving 75 men from Morobe who were returning from a peace mediation ceremony when they were allegedly assaulted by the officers.
Bidar said there were no evidence that the Morobe men were armed and approaching another group of men for a fight.
Bidar said the Public Prosecutor could make an independent decision as per his powers under the Criminal Code whether to present an indictment in court or not. 
Justice David Cannings had earlier invoked Section 57 of the Constitution and commenced proceedings by way of an inquiry to make findings on the details of the allegations and determine how serious and genuine they were.
Cannings then declared that the allegations arising from the incident were extremely serious and genuine.

For a lengthy article on violence against women, see the url below

PNG jacks up & Australia backs off sending refugees to Manus 02 September 2014

AUSTRALIA has decided not to send any more asylum seekers to Manus Island in what appears to be a response to the Papua New Guinea government’s reluctance to resettle refugees on its soil.

Three months ago Australian prime minister Tony Abbott announced that asylum seekers would be resettled in PNG, but – showing characteristic ‘drift’ – the O’Neill government did not respond to the decision. The PNG government has remained mute on their resettlement. Now controversial Australian immigration minister Scott Morrison (pictured) has ordered that asylum seekers be sent to Nauru. The ‘PNG Solution’ has turned out to be a particularly nasty piece of Australian public policy and a source of great shame for many Australians. Originally nutted out between Kevin Rudd and Peter O’Neill, the policy resulted in the death of an asylum seeker, the injuring of scores more  and psychological and physical damage to many others.Despite this lamentable track record, Mr Morrison claims success for his policy. There are presently 1,084 asylum seekers on Manus.

Asylum seekers on Manus Island sent to isolation units

Post Courier, September 04,2014

Leaked security reports from Manus Island describe frequent self-harm, suicide attempts and the use of isolated confinement at the Australian-run detention facility for asylum seekers.

They report that “major incidents” are happening almost every day at the centre, including fights between detainees, attacks against guards, self-harm and suicide attempts.  The leaked documents are daily security and intelligence reports from July obtained by refugee advocates Humanitarian Research Partners (HRP) and shared with media. In the most serious case of self-harm reported, a man cut himself with a razor, requiring 20 stitches to his chest and refusing treatment for two long cuts to his head. The report said the asylum seeker had recently been told he could not voluntarily return to his home country because he was a witness to the killing of Reza Barati in February and had to stay on Manus Island until the investigation was complete.

“Due to this, [he] has been on whisky watch since 26 July,” said the report. Whisky watch is the term used at the centre for monitoring asylum seekers showing mental health problems, and can be every three hours, every 30 minutes or constant observation. HRP said an average of 14 asylum seekers were placed on whisky watch each day.

The reports show that at the end of July there were 18 asylum seekers staying in Australia and six staying in Port Moresby out of the total 1,145 men considered part of the Manus Island detainees.

Several asylum seekers have been transferred to Australia for serious medical treatment, but it is not clear why so many others have been moved off Manus Island.

Morrison: Refugee resettlement program faces Problem

Post Courier, September 11, 2014

Story Courtesy of Radio Australia Australia Immigration Minister Scott Morrison says there are still major problems with the refugee resettlement arrangements in Papua New Guinea. PNG authorities have begun assessing the asylum seekers on Manus Island to determine their refugee status but so far, no one has been resettled into the community. Mr Morrison said the former Labor government ignored the political and practical difficulties of resettling refugees in PNG when it reopened the centre in November 2012. “Offshore processing and resettlement has been implemented. However, this has not been without challenges,” he said in a National Press Club address on Wednesday. “There remain difficult and frustrating problems with Papua New Guinea in relation to the resettlement program there. “Kevin Rudd and Tony Burke signed over $430 million in taxpayers’ funds in additional aid and infrastructure to the PNG government as part of what I described as a panicked announcement before the last election. “And in return, there was a blank sheet of paper.”

School Fights: A Wound left unattended Festers and Kills

By Scott Waide, PNG Blogs, Thursday, September 4, 2014

Last Sunday, another  teenager, a student at Bumayong Secondary school died at Lae’s Angau hospital from severe knife wounds he sustained in another unnecessary clash between students.

The foolishness of students who succumb to peer pressure is inexcusable. But the ignorance of parents and education authorities of the  root causes behind the ongoing school fights is unforgivable.

Three months ago, education authorities  along with stakeholders in the Lae community met to discuss possible solutions  to the school fights.  I attended  as an observer of the proceedings.

I could not take the jeers  and  sarcasm  displayed by older  members in the meeting who downplayed the organizational structures of the school based group responsible for the violence.

I felt the need to stand up in the crowd, uninvited, and vent on the unsuspecting senior members attending the meeting. Why do you  joke about student  organizational structures that have become more powerful than school administrations?  Why do you find it funny that  key members of the groups carry titles like “Right Hit man” and “Left Hit man” or “the President?”

Is it amusing that  three teenagers have died  so far since 2012 from school fights?

School  authorities in Lae remain tightlipped this week  over measures they’re taking as a result of ongoing school fights. Bumayong secondary School has been closed since  Monday. Meanwhile, formal classes at Bugandi – another school  that witnessed the death of a student – are not being conducted. Students at Bugandi  Secondary are currently taking school work home as a means to discourage organized school fights. School authorities  and those who have done studies on the problem say “it’s a sensitive issue and information can’t released.” I say: “a wound that is covered and left unattended  festers and  kills”

More than an education: How Marlene’s vision became a reality 04 September 2014. Marlene Dee Gray Potoura

I STARTED Sylbeez Hive Learning Centre, four years ago. I began with 15 students and, as I write, there are over 160 students enrolled. My son Martin was born with a medical condition known as Hypospadias. As he grew, I started to worry when I realised there were no schools here in Lae set up comfortably with clean toilets to cater for young children aged 3 to 10 year old. Of course there are expatriate private learning centres, but the fees are something like K10,000 a year – far too high for working class Papua New Guineans. With a vision that seemed impossible, I took the challenge and resigned from my position as deputy principal of the Lae Salvation Army Primary School. It was a heart-tearing when, unexpectedly, half of my finishing pay was deducted for tax. I was down-hearted and worried. But the vision was fresh and growing in my mind and I enquired about the vacant Lions Hall and wrote a letter to the President asking to let me use it to run a learning centre for Papua New Guinean children. I asked him to give me a grace period of two months to collect fees and pay the rent. Thankfully he agreed. That’s how I started this school, believing in myself with a determination to create a comfortable learning environment so my son and other children could attend a school that was conducive to their needs. Since then, I have turned this school into a Progressive and Reading School, monitoring the progress of each child every day from classroom learning to playing outside, toilet use, eating lunches, just about everything they do. I teach Alpha Phonics in Preparatory and Grade 1 plus enrichment classes three times a day for children who need to catch up with their letter sounds, word blending and reading. At the end of Grade 1, the children read well and go on to Grade 2. It is a tiring, busy and demanding job, but I find it fulfilling and rewarding at the end of the year when we successfully commend and award outstanding students. Some parents have even asked me how I can handle being the school bus driver, teacher, principal etc and I say it is a commitment and I truly enjoy what I do. In addition I have 16 staff including teachers, a housekeeping matron, a canteen manager, a driver and a cook. My son Martin is in Grade 4 now and during that time Professor Paddy Dewan, a urologist, has repaired the congenital problem he was born with and he is now ready to attend another school next year to do Grade 5.

‘Ill-minded’ people cause health centre to close

The National, Friday September 5th, 2014

A MAN who forced himself onto a woman who had just delivered her baby and another man who suckled at the breast of a breast-feeding mother were among offences that led to the closure of the Bogia Health Centre two weeks ago. 
Director for Madang Provincial Health Markus Kachau revealed these at a press conference yesterday, saying that Bogia people’s ill-minded behaviour had forced the temporary closure of the centre.
He said intruders from nearby villages at Bogia Station entered the health centre and sexually harassed female health workers, patients and their guardians.
Kachau said a sick-minded man entered the health centre some weeks back and forced himself onto a woman who just delivered her baby.
“Another female guardian was fast asleep when a man suckled at her breast and finished her baby’s feed.” 
Kachau said another man went into all the wards and rooms inside the health centre and helped himself to medicines that were kept in cupboards. He filled his bag with them and took off.
He said patients and health workers had been threatened with knives.
“Just weeks ago, a man yelled at a female health worker to go out so he could have sex with her. 
“There is no security at the centre and the Health Department could be sued for the assaults and other offences there,” Kachau said.

Negative Growth Forecasted for Solomon Islands

Solomon Times, Tuesday, 2 September 2014 1:20 PM

The ANZ’s latest Pacific Economic Quarterly has reduced growth expectations from 2.8 per cent to negative 1.5 per cent. It is the first time Solomon Islands has experienced negative economic growth since the global financial crisis in 2009. ANZ’s Economist Dan Wilson says the suspension of mining at Gold Ridge is partly to blame for the revised forecast. Minister of Finance Rick Hou acknowledged that the impact of the recent flooding has had a negative impact on government’s budget and growth forecasts. “The impact of the floods not only affected the government’s budget, it also caused huge damages to the Guadalcanal Plains Plantation and Gold Ridge, two key revenue earners for the government,” the Minister of Finance said in Parliament. Local economists say that the government needs to recognize that with our narrow economic base the impact of such disasters will always be severe.

While tourism is certainly an area worth pursuing, the government still lacks proper policies in relation to other sectors such as agriculture. “In all developing economies the trajectory begins with its agriculture, if we have a proper policy in place – based on sound research and planning – we could grow this sector and diversify our export base.”

Advantages and disadvantages of privatisation in PNG and the PNG Power controversy

PNG Blogs, Monday, September 15, 2014

Privatisation first reared its head in PNG with the demise of the government owned Papua New Guinea Banking Corporation.  Its landmark Port Moresby headquarters still shows the PNG traditional art forms and icons that around the time of independence we proudly displayed as evidence of our unique culture, but nowdays allow elected fools such as Theo Zureonuc and Loujaya Kousa label as satanic. PNGBC was the bank of the people with the goal of service, not profit. We now have BSP in its place. BSP is majority owned by private shareholders and its profit since 2012 has grown at rates of 10-25% each year, leading to the 2013 result of nearly K437 million.   That’s not income, it is profit and a hell of a lot of money by PNG standards. Divided up amongst every single person living in PNG, from baby up to papa na mama, each one would have received K62 for 2013.

I personally support the strike actions of PNG Power employees.  We must not let foreign investors take another essential government service and turn it into a profit generating machine, of which most profits will transfer overseas. If we have to suffer power shortages as a result of strike actions, don’t blame the power workers.  Instead blame the government for its callous disregard for the general welfare and its fixation on making money for the privileged few. The provision of electricity should never be based on profit.  Throughout the world, electricity has become almost as essential as health care, education, and water. Economical electricity is the only way to encourage more people to remain in rural areas and develop the land. The traditional role of government is never to make business. The purpose of government is to protect the people and provide basic services to all by equitably sharing the revenue it generates.  Government is obligated to serve villagers as much as it serves those living in towns and cities.  Everyone should benefit from government services simply because they are citizens. Under no circumstances should poorer people be penalised.  It is morally wrong. In PNG, government businesses have been the gateway to widespread looting of revenues and increasing corruption. Privatising a State Owned Enterprise to get away from this problem only creates new ones.  Once a government service provider is privatised, moral obligations to serve all citizens, even the most disadvantaged, tend to disappear. Private companies in PNG have no legal obligation to maintain service. They are free to make as much profit as they can, no matter how it affects the poor.

Lack of info on women’s cancer ‘big tragedy’

The National, 24th of September, 2014

CANCER is affecting an increasing number of women in PNG due to a lack of information, awareness and treatment, consultant obstetrician and gynecologist Dr Mathias Sapuri says.
Speaking at a press conference in Port Moresby yesterday, Sapuri said limited number of checkups and Pap smear tests for cervical cancer and lack of proper equipment for screening, testing, monitoring and detecting symptoms had contributed to the increase.
Statistics show that more than 1800 Papua New Guinea women died from cancer every year due to late diagnosis and unawareness.
“About 5000 women were diagnosed with breast cancer. Women must screen and have access to services that are available,” Sapuri said.
He said common and prominent cancer of the mouth, breast and cervical cancer were treatable diseases once they were identified and treated quickly.
Early diagnosis was the best solution to prevent the spread of cancer, he said

Domestic violence ‘a concern’

The National, 24th of September, 2014

DOMESTIC violence has become a major concern in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville, a magistrate says.
Magistrate Bruce Tasikul said a lot of women had been seeking protection orders from the Buka district court.
He said domestic violence in Bougainville was no different to any other part of the country.
“It is a pressing issue here and most of the cases are related to partners,” he said. 
“We have had a lot of victims seeking protection orders from the court against their spouses.”
Tasikul said there were some men seeking protection orders against their wives although not too many. 
He said there were some cases involving sexual violence against children which were referred to police. 
“Let me be honest to say that there is an increase both in sexual violence and domestic violence cases in the region but many of these cases are not reported,” Tasikul said.
According to records at the Buka district court, 31 cases came through the court on women seeking protections orders last year and 17 so far this year.
He said some cases had to be withdrawn when the complainants failed to appear in court. 
“On a weekly basis, we have around two to three cases. The most valuable age group is between 25 and 40. But there are some below that age group.” 
He said with the new Family Protection Act in operation, victims have the option to lay criminal charges against their spouse and at the same time seek protection orders from the court.

John Momis shirtfronts Jubilee Australia over “biased report”

BOUGAINVILLE president Dr John Momis has strongly rebuked the Jubilee Australia organisation for claiming that opposition to re-opening the Panguna copper and gold mine is “near universal”.

On its website, Jubilee Australia says its mission is to “promote accountability for the causes of poverty and injustice in the Asia Pacific” and “elevate the voice of affected communities”.

Earlier this year it conducted a survey of 65 people in the Panguna area and has just published a report entitled Voices of Bougainville.

In a letter, Dr Momis calls the report “factually inaccurate, biased, methodologically unsound and dishonest in claiming that interviews with 65 individuals selected by its authors allows it to represent the voices of 300,000 Bougainvilleans.”

Dr Momis added that these failures “have been compounded by even more inaccurate public statements about the Report and its findings made by Jubilee Chief Executive, Brynnie Goodwill.”

He said that many of the “grave errors in the report could have been avoided had those involved in the work simply consulted the elected and representative Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG).”

“The most fundamental and also dishonest aspect of the Jubilee research,” Dr Momis said, “is to claim, as it does in the title, to represent Voices of Bougainville.

Initiative to tackle youth cults

The National, Monday September 15th, 2014

LAE Secondary School students took a new approach called Connect group involving parents and professionals to address school fights and cult activities.
Enoch Joseph and his family invited 60 male students to Fernridge Estate at 10-Mile and discussed a series of positive steps, including self-discipline topics, led by deputy principal Albert Sabok.
The Connect group was set up to rehabilitate students involved in inter-school fights and cult activities. 
It has four components in its rehabilitation programme:
Connecting students with God’s word which pastors and Christian professionals in various private and government sectors were invited to preach to them;
mentoring from professional Christians;
teaching students academic skills and,
Involving students in projects, mainly awareness.
The ‘God’s Love Project’ initiated requires parents of the students and families to invite other students to their home to share foods and drinks with them.
In the process, the host family shows love and care for other students to change them so that they can become friends with “enemies”.

Corruption sullies emergence of PNG to mature nationhood   15 September 2014 Keith Jackson

TOMORROW Papua New Guinea celebrates 39 years of nationhood. The report card indicates that, particularly in terms of the quality of governance, those have been very mixed years.

On the plus side, PNG remains a robust democracy with regular hard fought elections and a press, perhaps not as vibrant as it once was, still capable of holding government to account when it wants to.

And PNG has been spectacularly fortunate with its resources – ‘an island of gold, floating in a sea of oil, surrounded by gas’ as it is often expressed. But it has been spectacularly unfortunate in not having the politicians and public officials to ensure the ensuing benefits are spread equitably amongst the people. Corruption and inefficiency dog PNG and, while the private wealth of a select few soars, most social indicators show diminishing outcomes for almost everyone else. Recently sacked Attorney-General Kerenga Kua is considered one of the small group of PNG politicians who are either not corrupt or who do not tolerate corruption.

In an interview last week he both hit out at corruption in government and accused prime minister Peter O’Neill and his cohorts of actively suppressing efforts to fight corruption. Mr Kua, who represents the Simbu electorate of Sinasina-Yongomugl, was a lawyer for 25 years and president of the PNG Law Society before entering parliament. He was speaking to Radio New Zealand International about the government severing the pay of Sam Koim, head of anti-corruption unit Investigative Taskforce Sweep. Mr Koim was sacked (only to be reinstated by the courts) after investigating alleged massive illegal state payments to a law firm and, in connection with this, had successfully sought an arrest warrant against Mr O’Neill. “Look, if we are serious, if we want the country and the Pacific region – if we want the international community who are all our development partners – to believe our political rhetoric, we must allow the Sweep team to do its job and nobody must interfere.” …But there was no explanation of why this had happened despite an order from the National Court preventing the disbandment of Task Force Sweep and reinstating its funding.

And what malevolent venality and cynical abuse of the people of PNG for a self-seeking few to take advantage of the unsophistication of the majority of their countrymen, who then pay the price – in deteriorating education, health and infrastructure – for monstrous exploitation by their government.

WeCare fair a success

Post Courier, September 17,2014

PEOPLE turned up in droves to attend a fair recently in support of a non-profit organisation involved in supporting vulnerable people in Port Moresby.

WeCARe had a day-long fair to raise funds to buy a building or land on which an office can be built. The fair, hailed a success, was held at Hohola Youth Development Centre at Oak Street, Hohola. Organisers said this is the first fundraising for this cause. There will be others later. “This is just the start and we hope more people and corporate houses will join us in the near future.’’

WeCARe was started in Port Moresby and currently operates at the Lasalle Hohola Youth Development Centre which is too small for its staff with no storage room or space for large donations that WeCARe receives in containers to distribute to vulnerable people that it supports in settlements and suburbs in Port Moresby. WeCARE stands for The Foundation for Women and Children At Risk and relies on donations to operate.

Measles cases surpass 800, number could be higher

Solomon Star, 10 September 2014

It is hard to know the pain and discomfort three month-old Peter*(real name not given) is going through. But just looking at the rash all over his body gives you an idea. Peter is among many children infected with measles and admitted at the National Referral Hospital in Honiara, Solomon Islands. A special measles ward has been set up to deal with a terrible outbreak. But it is not big enough and dozens of children have to be placed somewhere else along the emergency unit, either on a bed in the corridor or on the floor. Others have to be taken back home since there is simply no space for them.

 Since the outbreak began in July, two children under 3 months old have died due to measles related complications. Almost 800 cases of measles have been reported to the Ministry of Health and Medical Services Surveillance Unit and with measles being a very infectious disease,and not all cases being reported, the Ministry reckons the real number could be in the thousands.

Measles cases have been reported in Malaita, Guadalcanal, Isabel, Western, Temotu and Renbel Province. The Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS) is conducting a special mass vaccination campaign, to include everyone from 6 months to 30 years of age across the country.

In addition to the hardworking nurses, doctors and other health care workers who are doing their best to both prevent and treat cases, others are working behind the scenes.

Papua New Guineans in Philippines are rowdy, drunkards, and backward thinking

PNG Blogs. Tuesday, September 23, 2014 By Frank Malilong. Sun Star Newspaper, Cebu.

ONE early morning in the first week of June, last year, TV reporter Jinky Bargio chanced upon a group of rowdy foreigners near the old Rustan’s in Gen. Maxilom Avenue. When she saw the men throw bottles onto the street, stop passing vehicles and harass the drivers, Jinky knew she had a good story and got out of their vehicle. Soon they were recording the commotion. When they saw what Jinky and her crew were doing, the men took umbrage and attempted to confiscate the camera. Fortunately, the police arrived just in time to avert a confrontation between the TV crew and the foreigners who were later identified as Papua New Guineans. They were drunk. And apparently it was not their first brush with the law because when they arrived at the Fuente Police station, one of the policemen blurted, “it’s you again?”

In fact, there have been so many cases of Papua New Guineans, most of whom are enrolled in Cebu schools, being arrested for breach of the peace. In all these cases, they had one drink too many.

The first recorded case was that of Benedict Penini who struck a taxi driver with a stone outside the gate of the Maria Luisa Estate Park on Sept. 9, 2012. The drunken Penini had just had a fight with another Papua New Guinean when he spotted the driver and vented his ire on the poor guy. It took a Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team to subdue Penini, who later complained that the cops used excessive force on him. In 2013, two weeks after the Bargio incident, another drunken Papua New Guinean was arrested by the police for causing trouble inside a bar on A.S. Fortuna St., Bakilid in Mandaue. Jason Lokani was bloodied when the police arrived, courtesy of two unidentified men who resented the former’s breaking the bottles and hit him on the head with a stone.

Just as 2013 was ending, another group of Papua New Guineans were arrested after they brawled outside the National Bookstore in Gen. Maxilom Avenue. Jason Kerepa, Emmanuel Nagopi Naemon, Israel Wanqana Warraqo and Nigel Gwingin Dondo were booked for drunkenness and were released from jail only after paying a fine.

In April, this year, Elizah Norman, Pilol Kuman, Andi Takon and Mulea Opa Homs were arrested, again for causing trouble inside a bar where they had been drinking since 3 a.m. One of them allegedly showed his genitals to a female customer, who left the bar obviously in shock along with a male companion. Still not contented, Homs allegedly threw a bottle at another customer, causing an ugly gash on his forehead. A companion of the customer retaliated by stabbing Homs. When the police arrived, the Papua New Guineans ran away but were caught near the gate of the Sto. Niño Village while arguing with the village security guard.

Then last Saturday, Gary Nigel Chrich was arrested after he allegedly punched a bar employee in (again!) Gen. Maxilom Avenue. When the police arrived and tried to subdue him, the fellow resisted and punched the neck of one of them. As you must have guessed, Chrich is from Papua New Guinea (Port Moresby) and tested positively for alcohol.

I am not trying to stereotype Papua New Guineans but I cannot help but notice that while they’re relatively few, they seem to have the most cases of brushes with the law, compared with other foreigners. The Papua New Guineans in Cebu are fun-seeking and are otherwise well-behaved when they are sober. When they get drunk, however, the behavior changes dramatically.

Government funding to churches is wrong & can compromise   24 September 2014.   Paulus Ripa

THE recent announcement that prime minister Peter O’Neill donated several millions of kina – public money – towards the construction of the Catholic Cathedral in Mt Hagen leaves me with many misgivings. Whilst it may be a relief for thousands of Catholics in Western Highlands and Jiwaka provinces, it is wrong for the Church to accept donations from the government.

Firstly, over the last couple of hundred years the development of liberal democracy has seen the definition of roles of church and state to be separate. History has shown that when church and state are intertwined there develops intolerance, ecclesiastical corruption and oppression of minorities who do not profess the faith of the ruling religion. This is making a comeback in fundamentalist Muslim states now.

Second, government funds are clearly for designated secular purposes, and building churches or making donations to church groups are not right and proper. It can be rightfully construed as misuse of public funds.

Third, and most importantly, the church has always been an independent conscience and bulwark for what is right and what is wrong. In many developing nations, e.g. in South America, the church has consistently been the only opposition to dictatorial and oppressive regimes which have often been backed by powerful nations of the West as well as the communist bloc. In PNG, where there is no effective political opposition, the churches should be more vocal in issues where a powerful government is railroading policies and actions through parliament which are ill thought through and of great detriment to the nation. In such circumstances the churches are compromised by government funding for projects which really should be funded by the churchgoers themselves. The bishops have been bought and they dare not utter anything against the government of the day.

I confine my arguments to the Catholic Church because I am a Catholic and I will, of course, personally contribute to the Mt Hagen Cathedral construction. I imagine that other churches, particularly those which are not mainstream, may have fewer scruples about taking a stand against the presence of what one writer called “structural evil” (Ronald Sider in Rich Christians in a Hungry World). What can be funded by government are social services provided by the churches such as schools, clinics and hospitals, services for the disabled and the poor and so on. But such contributions must follow rules of proper accountability. The Catholic Church has a distinguished role in providing these services and, due to its outstanding performance in accountability, has been the major recipient of funding from sources such as the Incentive Fund. Funding support for these activities in the public good needs to be continued and expanded as, in many instances such as health services, the church is the only reliable provider in rural and remote areas. However the church should not lose sight of its primary role of evangelisation, part of which includes the role of defender of the poor, the dispossessed and the oppressed.

Dr Paulus Ripa is a paediatrician and teaches at the University of PNG School of Medicine

 Church must always be free to influence the public sphere 27 September 2014. Archbishop Douglas Young SVD

I appreciate Dr Paulus Ripa’s comment in PNG Attitude and as a product, even something of a victim, of a western secular ‘liberal’, democracy with a fairly strict division between church and state, I agree with him entirely. I say a victim because, for most of my childhood, the State did not assist my education because I was in a Catholic school and the burden was carried by my parents with considerable stress on our family income.

The Papua New Guinea Catholic Bishops Conference has consistently maintained that the State should adequately budget for and fund the areas for which it is responsible: roads, communication, civil infrastructure, education, health, security, law and order. If the State adequately supported the economic infrastructure, and generated employment, our people could earn their own money and freely contribute for religious and other purposes. We know from history that the Church is at its strongest when it is entirely supported by the generosity of its members. Whenever it is dependent on the State it is at risk.

However we have to admit that this is not the popular view of our constituents. If they could articulate their position in these terms they might say that the Western liberal approach is dualist whereas the Melanesian Way avoids unnecessary and non-traditional distinctions between the secular and the religious. Thus, in the view of the majority of Papua New Guineans, politicians and public servants can and should be explicitly motivated by their faith and the churches should receive public funding. Our people tell us “the money is ours”.

We would also not argue for a strict division as in the USA or Australia because, as Dr Ripa, says, we must always be free to influence the public sphere. At the same time we have to be accountable to the wider community, not only financially but morally also.

The argument of our fund raising committee has been that the State has failed to contribute adequately to the services that Dr Ripa has mentioned: health and education, and related social services.

For 80 years the Catholic Church has been providing these services. They see the Kina for Kina contribution of the State as “catching up “with what is owed.

I admit that I for one was surprised and possibly a little embarrassed by the size of the prime minister’s pledge. This may have been influenced by the fact that the project is not simply a cathedral but also a home for Triniti FM radio station, the beginnings of a conference centre and a venue for large scale public events of a religious or civic nature, all integrated with long-term plans for the development of Rebiamul Field, including parking. Some of the funding will certainly go to aspects that are normally taken care of by public authorities such as road, power, and communication connections, water supply and drainage.

Sometimes I hear politicians talk about “tithing”, i.e., giving 10% of public funds to the churches. I am one who is opposed to this. For one, I think tithing is an Old Testament idea and the New Testament idea is to give according to ability. Also if the churches have 40% of education and health care surely they should be getting 40% of the funding for these sectors! This is not the case. If the State merely followed its statutory obligations to those churches providing services, and withdrew some of the onerous taxation burden, we would be able to take care of our spiritual and pastoral services quite adequately. Currently much of our limited income and resources goes towards providing services which are the obligation of the State.

The danger of being bought is very real. We will have to see whether this happens in Mt Hagen! On the other hand, some people maintain that the only way to bring about change is to be part of the process and not standing outside it with a holier than thou attitude.

Generally people seem to appreciate the stand of the Catholic Church on social issues especially corruption and the care for rural areas. I doubt if this will stop. If it does, then please let us know.

We are currently attempting to respond to another area where the State is failing badly: the care for vulnerable children especially orphans. This requires both a sharp public criticism of this failure and a willingness to work along with those who are in a position to do something.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Social Concerns Notes – August 2014

Abandoned kid learns to survive on city streets
Post Courier, July 28, 2014
ANGU Mathew is about seven or eight years old. The Tari lad has a very striking smile that he has developed over the appreciation of very little things like an empty plastic bottle of coke on the streets or drains of Mt Hagen during his short, difficult and parasitic life which only Angu takes as a normal life. The streets of Mt Hagen became his garden at a tender toddler’s age when his father died some five years ago. Sadly, the Mathews had four more babies when the father died, leaving the mother to raise five kids. Sensing the difficult times ahead, Angu’s mother abandoned all the kids and remarried a Tari man. The father’s relatives took in the four younger kids to raise. However, Angu was abandoned on the streets of Mt Hagen, orphaned by both man and nature when he was barely four years old. He learnt the very essential skills of survival on the streets at a very young age.
Over the last four years, the strong looking Huli boy roamed the streets, garbage bins and drains of Mt Hagen in search of empty Coca-Cola plastic bottles to survive. Random visits to the city’s restaurant in the hope of left overs or a good Samaritan’s notice was a norm.
“Mi save givim 50t nabaut long ol sampela boys mi save na go slip lo haus blo ol sampela taim. Taim mi nogat moni, mi save slip ausait lo Hagen Kofi.” (I pay 50t to some boys I know to sleep in their houses. When there’s no money, I live outdoors at Hagen Coffee,” Angu said on Saturday.
He has a single meal of K1 worth of flour balls every evening before looking for friends to pay the nightly rental of 50t. In good times, Angu collects enough bottles for K10.
In bad days when he makes no money, he goes to sleep outdoors on an empty stomach.
Though healthy looking, the lack of proper diet and clean water, hygiene, living outdoors and long hours of working on the bustling streets of Mt Hagen has taken its toll – Angu has a shrunken face with deep black eyes that do not glitter a fraction. He gives his best smile with a happy yes when asked if his mother visits him and his siblings who live with relatives nearby. Angu said he was one of the many kids that live a similar hard life in Mt Hagen. The Huli lad said sharing and caring among his peers was vital and they have survived all these years because of their deep bond and support for each other. Angu is only one story of a growing problem of orphaned or rejected children who are being left to fend for their survival.

The problem of children’s rights: Enough of the toktok
Fr John Glynn | We Care Foundation
WE have good laws, and there is plenty of awareness of the problem of children’s rights, but sadly the protocols, or the machinery, for making the laws work is just not there. One Fr Jude’s AIDS orphans who I have been helping is a young girl called G. She has been living with her extended family and they allowed her to continue her schooling after Fr Jude left. I have been paying her school fees, buying her uniforms, shoes and similar things. This year G was in Grade 8 at Eki Vaki Primary school and I promised to get her into my school, Jubilee Secondary, next year if she did well in her exams. When I returned from overseas recently I found that G was no longer in school. She had been taken out and is being kept at home to care for a sick relative. Her education is finished. The family is no longer in Hohola – I don’t know where they have moved to.
When a child stops coming to school like this there is no follow-up. There may be a half-hearted attempt to contact the family, but if there is no success then the child is forgotten. There should be a report made to Social Services, and if necessary to the Police.
The family should be found and made to answer for the child’s removal from school. But this simply does not happen. It is as if nobody cares! As if it is thought that talking about the problem is enough – publishing pamphlets, articles in the paper, workshops, ‘awareness’ programs, and so on.
I am supporting four other children like G in three different schools. The one boy has a corner in a hut in a settlement where he sleeps. There is no running water, no electricity, no toilet, he has no family and must find a few kina every fortnight to pay for his bed. Fortunately, he is in Grade 12 and has the promise of a job as soon as his exams are finished.
Two of the girls have no families either and I am supporting them in a hostel for young women run by Sisters. The third girl is in a private school and lives with her mother who is a very sick woman and desperately poor with no other family support.
Two of the girls suffer from very poor eyesight – and one also is partially deaf. They never complained as they knew there was no help for them, and the teachers in the schools they attended never discovered their disabilities because our schools do not concern themselves with such matters.
The schools these young people attend make no allowances for them. They are compelled to pay ‘project fees’ and to take part in fund-raising for the school, and to somehow acquire textbooks and other school materials, sports clothes and the like. And they are sometimes threatened with punishment – even suspension – if they don’t comply.
I feel very cynical about all the talk about children’s rights. Children who do not belong to a strong, supportive, loving family are severely penalised by our schools and by everybody else too.
The awareness programs we run should be aimed, not at families, but at our schools, Government Departments, Church Communities, and at anybody who has to deal with children. These are the areas in which the worst discrimination against vulnerable children takes place.

Archbishop to take in neglected children
The National, Tuesday August 5th, 2014
THE Catholic Archdiocese of Mt Hagen is setting up family homes for neglected children in the city. Archbishop Douglas Young had a meeting with staff from family life ministry and health services after identifying some deteriorating situations that caused children to be homeless. 
Young said parents dying of HIV/AIDS, marriage break-ups, urban drift, unemployment and inter-cultural marriages were some key factors that caused children to be homeless and displaced.
 “Society rejection of orphans is quite alarming. Though there is awareness for orphans, yet there is no acceptance,” he said.
Abp Young has recommended to
Provide family life support and counselling;
provide housing and promote nutrition programmes;
work with the Justice Department and Child Welfare;
establish a drop-in centre and have clear guidelines for the centre; and,
Consider age limitations to avoid conflict and involve pastors in the team to put emphasis on spiritual guidance.
Abp Young said he would work with the Government and non government organisations that promoted child rights and welfare.

INA: Local ‘power plays’ behind rise in sorcery-related violence
Post Courier, August 02, 2014
Young men in Papua New Guinea are using sorcery-related violence to gain status and power in their local communities, according to the head of PNG’s Institute of National Affairs. Paul Barker has told Pacific Beat the attacks are often the result of complex “power plays” among men at the village level, with women the majority of victims. “It’s led by groups of young men who seeking status in society, partly by (joining) gangs and terrorizing potential victims,” he said. “They’re also demonstrating their power versus that of the traditional leadership, including the more modern leadership, the local village court magistrates and other leaders. Earlier this year, Amnesty International said it had received reports of girls as young as eight being attacked and accused of sorcery and children being orphaned as a result of one or both their parents being killed after accusations of witchcraft. Paul Barker says there are “very courageous efforts” by local groups such as the Kup Women for Peace and Simbu Defenders who attempt to rescue people who have been threatened and who receive little protection from police. “These women go in at great risk to themselves to rescue the victims or the potential victims,” he said. “But we’ve seen photographs of police standing on one side watching events. Maybe they’re too outnumbered. Maybe they’re too much part of the community.”
Mr Barker says the current climate leaves women terrified of being accused of sorcery or witchcraft.
“If you attend the funeral or if you’re not showing sufficient remorse or sufficient upset following someone’s death then the finger risks getting pointed at you as maybe having collaborated in the whole thing,” he said.

Dame Taylor dedicates her appointment to the women of PNG and the region
THE incoming Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, Dame Meg Taylor of Papua New Guinea has dedicated her appointment to the women of Papua New Guinea and the Pacific region. “It’s a big step for women in my country and for women in the region and I acknowledge our mothers, sisters and our daughters at this time,” she told reporters on Friday.

“The broader message is that my two deputy secretaries are women as well. I know that some will say let’s see what these women can deliver. Men in the Pacific know that in all traditional obligations women are partners. 

“However, what is new in this case is that three women are at the helm of the eminent regional architecture, Dame Taylor told journalists here in Koror.
“The decision making process in the Forum is predominantly male. That’s fine with us and we will we will work with that. The most important thing is to deliver on the decisions of Leaders.

Save our mums
The National, Tuesday August 5th, 2014
MOTHERS in Papua New Guinea face a higher risk of dying during childbirth compared to other Pacific island countries because of the lack of proper supervision and care, it has been revealed. In fact, the maternal and neo-natal mortality rate in PNG is second only to Afghanistan in the Asia-Pacific region with 733 deaths for every 100,000 live births, according to Dr Gairo Onagi, the University of Goroka Vice-Chancellor. This compares to nine deaths in every 100,000 live births in Australia. He said the solution lay in having more trained midwives in the country, a problem the UOG was doing something about. He revealed this during the opening of a new building for midwifery training plus four staff quarters at the university last Friday. He said 80% of PNG people lived in rural areas where most of these maternal deaths occurred. Onagi said with the alarming statistics, the University of Goroka introduced the Bachelor of Midwifery course in 2010 to help reduce maternal deaths. “It has been proven globally that the best way to reduce maternal mortality is through the training of more midwives and this is what UOG is aiming to do through its programmes,” he said.

Censor: Censorship begins at home
The National, Friday August 8th, 2014
CENSORSHIP begins at home with parents and children, Chief Censor Steven Mala says. Mala said because of a boost in technology in PNG, people were able to watch any kind of movies online. Therefore the censorship board is setting up legislation to classify and control the movies.“We have seen and experienced both positive and negative effects of technology on us and our children,” he said. “Our youths are abusing the social media like Facebook to upload and download explicit images and comments. “We have an access to internet in the village level and most teens are abusing the internet services to view pornographic images and videos. “Thus, we have set up legislation through the government to promote decency in the communities and protect women and children.” Mala said it was not to suppress freedom of information and speech, but to bring a bit of restriction to the types of movies and images viewed by the people.

New Act outlaws marriages under 18
The National, Monday August 11th, 2014
IT will be illegal for minors to be married under a new Civil Registry Act, Constitutional Law Reform Commission Secretary Dr Eric Kwa says. Kwa said any child under 18 would not be allowed to be married. He said many parents have been allowing their children, especially girls, to get married for the sake of money, fame and status. “They (the girls) are not given opportunity to go to school and study. “Therefore, they are getting married at age of 15, 16 and 17 straight after their puberty stage,” Kwa said. “This bad idea of marrying below the age 18 will no longer be tolerated by the PNG government under the new act.” He said the new law would also prevent polygamous marriages. “The act will strongly put more emphasis on monogamy marriage, which means a man can only marry one woman,” Kwa said. “No polygamy marriage practices will be registered in PNG under the new act. ”He said the government hoped to transform the country with the new law.

The Pacific Solution and PNG’s sovereignty & security 14 August, 2014
THE Pacific Solution emerged as a policy of the Australian government under prime minister John Howard’s regime. The policy aims at transporting asylum seekers to detention centres in small independent states within the Pacific region rather than allowing them to settle in mainland Australia.
When the policy was first introduced in 2001, it had bipartisan support from both the Liberal-National government and Labor opposition of the time.
Offshore processing is to the advantage of the Australian government because on Australian soil asylum seekers have certain legal rights which make it difficult to send them back to their country of origin. With the offshore camps in Manus and Nauru, the Australian government can easily process and settle them in a place other than Australia. Australia, as a developed country in the Pacific region, is exercising its influence over the vulnerable developing Pacific island states including Papua New Guinea, which features greatly on Australia’s foreign policy radar. …
Australia facilitates its interests in the Pacific to protect its own sovereignty and security without the realising that it may undermine the sovereignty and security of small Pacific Island countries.

Living with crime and violence in Papua New GuineaL
Laura Keenan.
Last month I was interviewing participants in the World Bank’s Urban Youth Employment Project in Port Moresby, talking about the challenges that PNG’s young people face in finding work.
One issue that came up repeatedly was mobility – or the lack of it: the basic ability to travel to and from the workplace. It is no secret that parts of Port Moresby are dangerous and crime is high. There are regular stories of carjacking but public transport is also a huge risk – an issue which disproportionately affects workers coming from poorer parts of the city. …As with most workplaces, there is a staff-bus that ferries staff to and from work, but even this bus has “no-go areas” – parts of the city where the risks are seen to be too high for it to enter. Staff who live in these settlements will have to make their own way and they face considerable risk, especially if it’s after hours.
A new World Bank report series attempts to quantify some of the costs Papua New Guinea faces from violent crime. According to official figures, crime rates have stabilized over the last decade, but there are significant regional disparities: crime is seemingly on the rise in ‘hotspots’ like Lae, the Western Highlands and the National Capital District, and it is also increasingly violent. Use of firearms is escalating.
The reports look at direct costs faced by local firms – finding for example that the average business loses K90,000 (US $33,000) in stolen property every year; and close to the same amount as a result of closing early due to threats of violence. But it also details many indirect costs that are more difficult (though perhaps not impossible) to quantify. Issues like staff absenteeism or lost productivity. Businesses being unwilling to expand into new areas or sectors, resulting in significant foregone investment, or small firms unable to get going because of high security costs. The burden on the healthcare system as a result of rising violence in urban areas, or employers not wanting to employ people from certain areas – thus escalating exclusion and inequality. Or the issue of Gender-Based Violence, which is a known, though too often silent reality across Papua New Guinea. It is a human tragedy but its impacts are wider – incurring costs from disability, illness and accident, on productivity and motivation. Globally, World Bank research suggests that gender-based violence can cost a country between 1.2 and 3.7 percent of GDP.
PNG is a wonderful country that I have been privileged to work in, and I have always been made to feel welcome there. Too often, crime and violence are outsiders’ first associations with the country and it doesn’t capture the reality or the people on the ground – and all the beauty and wonder that the country has to offer. But it is true that crime is a reality of everyday life for many people, especially in the cities – for locals more than foreigners. There are no simple answers. The causes of violent crime are largely structural – linked to poverty and inequality: a context where economic growth hasn’t yet benefitted the majority of the people. As a consequence security costs are a spiraling expense. Private security accounts for an average of 5% of annual operating costs for a business in PNG, with nearly a third of firms reporting that for them it’s more than 10%.
To my mind, the only real answer, the true conversation, is about addressing the root causes of crime and violence – poverty, inequality, unemployment and marginalization of some groups, especially youth. These reports aim to inspire this conversation – but what do you think? What are the impacts of crime and violence on the economy? How does it affect you and what are the solutions? I’d be interested to hear your thoughts.

PNG strives to achieve UN goals
Post Courier, August 18, 2014
Monday August 18 marks 500 days of action for PNG to continue its efforts in achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which are set to conclude at the end of 2015.
Established in 2000, the eight MDGs were developed to form a blueprint for change, which were agreed to by all countries and leading development institutions. “
“Important progress has been made in areas pivotal to Papua New Guinea’s development, in particular recent reforms in primary education, but the MDGs remind us that continued efforts are needed – especially in child and maternal mortality and combating HIV AIDS, malaria and other diseases.”
The United Nations is working with governments, community groups and other partners to build on the momentum generated by the MDGs and carry on with an ambitious post-2015 development agenda, a program which Trivedy says Papua New Guinea is heavily involved with.
“Papua New Guinea has taken on a leadership role in shaping the future global development agenda by holding post-2015 consultations and working in partnership with Denmark in the lead-up to the post-2015 summit being held next year,” he said. The post-2015 national consultation has seen the United Nations partner with PNG government to give citizens from all walks of life an opportunity to raise their concerns, aspirations and issues in response to the question “What is the future you want for Papua New Guinea?”
The short survey, which is available at, asks participants to list the top six issues which most affect them.

Manus doesn’t want to deal with refugees
Post Courier, August 15,2014, Story courtesy of Radio New Zealand
The governor of Manus Island Charlie Benjamin says the province will not allow any refugees to settle there. A small number of asylum seekers have had their refugee claims recognised at Australia’s detention camp on Manus Island. Papua New Guinea has said it will resettle asylum seekers who are found to be refugees but the government is yet to identify locations for settlement. The governor for Manus Province Charlie Benjamin says it won’t be on Manus. “Being a small province we do not intend to have any permanent asylum seekers or those that have been granted status to be on this island, we would only be helping in processing.” Charlie Benjamin believes refugees will be accepted into the wider PNG community especially if they have the skills that the country needs.

Crime rate dips
The National, Monday August 18th, 2014
CRIME rate in the country has significantly dropped in the past three years, with the prison population reduced by more than 50% over the same period, it has been revealed “There has been a significant decline in major crime over the past three years due to strong government policy on law and order that is supported through increased funding,” O’Neill said: “This has seen the number of inmates at several prisons decrease by over half – such as in Bomana (in Port Moresby) where the inmates have been reduced from more than 1000 to around 450.

Jails under stress
The National, Friday 29th of August, 2014
PRISON authorities are concerned about the escalating number of remand prisoners, who this year alone will cost the ministry more than K13 million to feed and care for.
Correctional Services Minister Jim Simatab said as of last Friday (August 22), the total prison population in the country stood at 4280. And out of this, 1434 (or 34%) are on remand.
He said it was a huge burden on the ministry and prison authorities.
“On average, an inmate on remand can wait for up to two to three years before they can complete their trial and are either released from prison, or convicted by the courts,” he said.
Simatab said: “Some have waited for as long as five years before their fates were determined. It costs just over K9000 per year to feed and care for an inmate. Hence, our detainee population will cost the Correctional Service over K13 million this year.”
He said some prisons were over-crowded and holding numbers twice their capacity. 
“Such a situation is inhuman, as living conditions can deteriorate very rapidly. Overcrowding is a recipe for prison escapes,” he said. 

School puts student’s health first, hires doctor
The National, Tuesday August 19th, 2014
WEST Goroka Primary School, in Eastern Highlands, is the first to engage a professional medical doctor to provide health care for children and teachers. Dr Susanna Andrias, a former lecturer at the Taurama Medical School, has been providing health care for the past three weeks after she was engaged by head teacher Tony Koyangko. Koyangko said healthy children would have good concentration in the classroom, leading to good academic results. “We want to have healthy children to help them remain focused as healthy minds will absorb skills and knowledge well,” he said. “Children miss out on classes when they are sick and when they go to the public hospitals, they will wait in long queues,” Andrias said. “But with medical service available in the school, they are getting first class treatment. “We know that a healthy mind will allow them to concentrate well in class. “I give motivational talks to the school children, which helps them to remain focused on what they want to become later in life.” West Goroka Primary School is one of the largest schools in the country and provides counselling services through the non-government organisation the Family Voice.

Suspects arrested over asylum seeker’s death
Post Courier, August 20,2014, 03:29 am
TWO suspects have been arrested so far by police over the murder of Iranian Razza Barati who was violently beaten to death inside the asylum seekers processing centre earlier this year in Manus.
The second suspect was arrested in Kimbe, West New Britain Province.
Acting Deputy Police Commissioner and Chief of Operations Jim Andrews said the suspect is Joshua Kaluvia, in his 20s, of mixed Manus and West New Britain parentage.
Berati, 23, of Iran, was brutally beaten to death allegedly by a group of guards at the height of a riot inside the asylum seeker’s camp in February this year.
The police chief said a man identified as Louie Efi, 28, from Manus Province, was also arrested in July for his part in the same killing.
“These two suspects will shed more light on the violence and killing and hopefully assist in the arrest of more suspects involved in the February violence and death,” Mr Andrews said.

Tetanus campaign fails in PNG
Post Courier, August 20,2014, 03:22 am
A mass campaign to rid off tetanus in the country last year has failed miserably.
In 2012, the mass campaign targeting 1.8 million women and girls and 750,000 children in 22 provinces failed a second and third attempt as a result it places PNG in a list of countries that have not eliminated a very fatal disease. Tetanus is a disease passed by tetanus bacteria and is contracted through dirt and soil though wounds. Maternal and neo natal disease remains a threat to women and children.
UNICEF shared its disappointment with the health ministry over the ineffectiveness and uncoordinated efforts by provinces to achieve targets on Monday, which was the beginning of the health week. Tetanus accounts to a significant proportion of maternal deaths predominately in poor settings where women have no access to safe deliveries therefore many of them are forced to give birth at home in unhygienic environments.

21st century so very far away: PNG’s tragedy of remoteness 20 August, 2014. George Kuias
SO here I was at Mirsey health sub-centre in the Ambunti area of the upper Sepik. There was no oxygen, the hydrocortisone and salbutamol had run out nil and even the manual foot pump for nebulising the patient was malfunctioning. Martin, my patient, was developing severe shortness of breath and was cyanosed due to lack of oxygen. Even the antibiotics had not helped. He was restless and gasping for air. I tried to resuscitate him but failed. He needed anti-asthma drugs to revive him. The only option was to refer him to Boram hospital in Wewak – 14 hours by dinghy along the main Sepik River and then by ambulance to Wewak. After sorting out the fuel and the boat operator we trundled off following a tributary of the Sepik. Due to low water levels and submarine tree stumps, we could not travel at speed. At seven o’clock in the night my patient Martin told me to stop and turn back to the health centre. I hesitated. My aim was to save his life. On our way, he had made several attempts to jump overboard but was held back by his guardian. Martins’ voice had become very weak and then he slipped into unconsciousness. His eyes turned upwards, saliva and mucus drained from his nose and mouth and he died in our arms inside the dinghy. Unfortunately I had lost my patient.
As I lowered my head, I thought to myself that Martin should not have died if only the medical kits had arrived on time and all the necessary drugs were in stock. People could argue that it’s the responsibility of the officer in charge to make sure the kits are there and the stocks are maintained and the life-saving equipment is in place. But this is all sweet talk from people in comfortable chairs. It’s tough managing complex cases in remote settings where there are poor or no roads or long water journeys. This is a continuing tragedy happening in many parts of remote Papua New Guinea.

Dwindling tuna stock alarms scientists
The National, Thursday August 21st, 2014
SCIENTISTS have released new assessments on the tuna populations in the Western and central Pacific Ocean.
They show several troubling developments for the world’s largest tuna fishing grounds.
Last month’s figures released by the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission scientific committee showed that the total tuna catch last year was more than 2.6 million metric tonnes. 
The number of some tuna species left to reproduce is dwindling, dropping to dangerously low levels in some cases.
The region’s most recent assessment of the bigeye tuna confirms that less than 20% of the population remains. 
Scientist John Hampton told the Pacific News Centre that this was a significant development because fishing nations had agreed that a population size this low “represents an unacceptable risk” to the stock.
“And while the long-line catch of bigeye dropped to its lowest rate since 1996, the purse seine catch increased to its highest rate,” he said.

Friends of Nano quietly go about supporting communities Society Of Presentation Sisters. 22 August, 2014
THE Ningil Friends of Nano are an enthusiastic and committed group of women, men and youths in the picturesque highlands of the Sandaun Province of Papua New Guinea. The group, supported by Sr Bernadine Telami, meets regularly to pray, share and reflect on the Gospel and life and work of Nano Nagle and the Presentation Sisters. The growing awareness of human rights and justice encourages the Friends of Nano to seek ways of acting to make a difference within their community. The prevailing cultural practices and attitudes of the Papua New Guinea society can either hinder or support an expression of human rights.
Within this context the Friends of Nano are challenged to raise issues and reflect on how they can help support those in the local communities or challenge unjust practices. The Friends of Nano visit the sick and support the youth of the surrounding villages. Joseph is one such person assisted by the Friends of Nano. Since his wife died and his daughter married and lives in another village, Joseph has struggled with failing health to care for himself in his own home. There are no shops, nursing home facilities, no electricity or running water. It would be impossible for ‘Joseph’ to fetch water from the river or gather food from the bush. He needs the support of a stick to get from his indoor dwelling to the outside fire of his garden house where he sits all day and can see others in the village as they pass by. The Friends of Nano assist with personal care, take food and water and sit and chat with him. Joseph is mentally alert and thoroughly enjoys the companionship they bring. Friends of Nano – quiet achievers for Papua New Guinea.

Gender based violence in Papua New Guinea: the case of the missing medical report
By Inez Mikkelsen-Lopez on August 11, 2014
Sarah ran away from her village claiming that her husband was abusing her. The village court found Sarah guilty of “not respecting her marriage vows”, issued her with a AUD300 fine and demanded she return home. Sarah appealed this decision with the district court magistrate, however, the (female) judge dismissed the case based on the grounds that Sarah could not produce a medical report to prove abuse. She ordered Sarah to return to her village and pay the fine, and urged her to honour her marriage vows. Sadly, as unbelievable as this story is, it happened recently in Papua New Guinea.
Stories similar to Sarah’s concerning Gender Based Violence (GBV) appear all too frequently in the local news in PNG, usually involving a case of rape, often by husbands or family members. The multifaceted nature of GBV, involving the legal, social, education and health sectors, makes it extremely complex to address.
At the national level, GBV is addressed in by the Family and Sexual Violence Action Committee (FSVAC), which has provincial representation: supporting both the ‘Family and Sexual Violence Units’ annexed to police stations and the ‘Family Support Centres’, often found at provincial hospitals. Primarily, the Family and Sexual Violence Unit deals with the law: the allocation of protection orders or criminal investigations relating to the breach of legislation, such as assaults. The onus to coordinate the entire investigation is therefore placed on the police and not on the victim, where the victim is their witness in their prosecution.
The Family Support Centres recognise the significance of the psychological implications of GBV and provide integrated counselling with medical treatment to women, men and children affected by GBV. There are currently only a handful of Family Support Centres across PNG. What role can the health sector play in combatting GBV? Unfortunately, gender issues are not regarded as a priority under the National Health Plan 2011–20. However, this was recently amended with the release of the National Health Sector Gender Policy (2014), which aims to integrate a gender perspective across the entire health sector (legislation, policies and programs) and throughout the various levels. Although it recognises GBV as a cross-cutting issue, it confirms that it is not a GBV control policy.
Are there changes that can be made within the health system to better respond to GBV? ….

Mobile phone charging clicks
The National, Monday August 25th, 2014
USING a 240KVA portable generator to charge mobile phones, an enterprising man could earn up to K2000 a month. But David Solomon, 30, from Bukawa, Morobe, said only through honest-to-goodness saving from the proceeds that one can earn that much. He confirmed raising K1500 just recently when speaking at Nadzab market over the weekend. Solomon, who migrated from Bukawa to be with his wife in Nadzab, said he collected K2 per mobile phone charge. He said he was charging more than 50 mobile phones a day and charges boom boxes (music). He makes about K100 per day, but on busy days such as Fridays and Saturdays, he could earn more. “In a week, I make K500 to K600, which means I earn K1000 to K1200 in a fortnight. “I support my family with the money I earn and pay school fees for my 10-year old-son,” Solomon said. He had five other competitors in the market who use portable generators.

Educating people by degree – Sam Koim’s ‘anti-corruption capsules’ 25 August, 2014
The head of PNG’s corruption-busting Task Force Sweep, Sam Koim, still with a job after intervention by the courts, uses Facebook to publish his ‘anti-corruption capsules’. They’re always well-read, much favoured and we offer one here as an example….
AS a nation progresses, so do its people. Many people get educated. Many find a decent job that sustains and propels them to prosper in life. Crime also grows in the absence of strong mechanisms to curtail its growth. Those who want to engage in crimes such as stealing and fraud are often too educated to employ primitive gang looting methods with the use of arms. Thus the crime rate on that front may decline. They however take up pen and paper. With the former primitive method, the risks are higher and the rewards are at times relatively small. With the latter, the rewards have proven to be higher and the physical risks are almost nil. I should say criminals have just changed the weapons used to commit a crime.

MP: Malaria, HIV down
The National, Friday 29th of August, 2014
THE prevalence of malaria and HIV in the country has declined in recent years, according to Health and HIV/AIDS Minister Michael Malabag.
He attributed that to the success of the public-private partnership approach.
Malabag yesterday tabled in Parliament the Department of Health 2013 annual management report.
“Malaria generally between 2009 and 2012 saw a 39% reduction in the number of reported cases, a 60% reduction in malaria admissions and a 50% reduction in reported malaria deaths,” he said.
“The prevalence of HIV is below 1% – meaning that we do not have a generalised epidemic as previously thought.
“This reinforces the fact that improved funding and staffing are required to see improvements in our indicators.”
He said the lessons must be translated to other diseases such as Tuberculosis by providing adequate funding and human resources to have an impact. 
Public Service Minister Sir Puka Temu praised the Rotary Against Malaria for distributing mosquito nets to families.
Malabag said five provincial health authority boards had been set up in Western Highlands, Eastern Highlands, Milne Bay, West New Britain and Enga.
East Sepik and Southern Highlands will have their boards established in the coming months. 
“We have been overwhelmed with request from other provinces that are keen to implement the PHA as a vehicle to improving health outcomes for their population,” he said.

10 years after the eruption
PNG Blogs, Monday August 25, 2014
It has been 10 years since the Manam volcanic eruption abruptly forced more than 15000 islanders to move to the mainland of the Madang province. Many of the families, still living in care centers, have been left destitute with very little fertile land to grow food and little means of generating an income. For 10 years, both the National and Provincial governments have ignored the plight of islanders making no firm decision on their resettlement.
Gabriel Kabarapun is a displaced Manam Islander who has been living in the Asarumba care center. He built this house in 2004 when they were evacuated during the volcanic eruption and since then, he has changed the sago palm thatch on his roof only once. Asarumba, like the other Manam care centers, is located on old mission plantations. Building materials are scarce and the islanders are not always allowed to get sago thatch and wood from the traditional land that belongs to the Bogia people. “I can’t get materials to build a new house,” he says. “The posts are slowly rotting, the walls are falling apart. The owners of the land don’t allow us to use their land to get wood or roofing.” Because of the scarcity of land and limited resources, it has become increasingly common to find two families sharing one house. Gabriel shares this house with his nephew. Both men have large families. The house cannot fit them all. This means some family members have use the verandah as sleeping quarters after the evening meals.
“We are a forgotten people,” says former Local level government councilor, Charles Yanda. “It the government can look at foreign asylum seekers, what not pay attention to our needs. We’re Papua New Guineans and we’ve been here for 10 years” While there has been much talk about a permanent solution for the displaced Manam Islanders, much of it has been political talk with no action on the ground.
The Manam population on the care centers has more than doubled since the evacuation. There are now an estimated 30 thousand people scattered along the Bogia coast with remnants of village communities on the sheltered part of the Island.

Wisdom is in nature
By Abp Steve Reichert OFM Cap – Madang
During the past year I’ve travelled by plane from Madang to Wewak and back many times. It is an enjoyable trip. What a beautiful country we live in. Following the coastline one sees the high mountains inland, the vast forests, the rivers and the small villages here and there in the bush.
Then suddenly the mighty Sepik River appears, confidently strolling out of the hills onto the plain, meandering toward the sea. But just before it accomplishes its mission of depositing its contents into the ocean, it turns back on itself, as if it has lost courage at the last minute. It twists and turns in indecision before finally making its way through the sandy beach to the sea. And I said to myself, I’m like that sometimes. Many of us are like that sometimes and often our fear and indecision is a cause for doing wrong and hurting others.
Ramu River – It is bold, dirty and undisciplined. It is selfish and greedy. It eats away at the banks and the foundations of the village houses. It builds up sand and silt like so many excuses until its only escape is to slink off in another unplanned direction. We all know people like that. But sometimes we also see him or her when we look in the mirror. How many of us fail to meet the challenges of life with honesty? It’s easier to run away from responsibility and accountability. We need wisdom and strength.
Manam Volcano – white smoke and black smoke – arrogant, moody, sometimes angry and dangerous. It is not reliable. Karkar Island – Elderly, quiet, stable, settled and generous. It’s like everyone’s grandmother.
And then comes the broken coastline of Madang – the little islands and lagoons, the coral reefs – inviting, peaceful and compassionate. We humans are created in the image and likeness of God, but sin makes us less beautiful than we are meant to be. But there is hope for us. Wisdom that comes from loving God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind, will restore God beauty in us. And loving our neighbour as ourselves no matter what, strengthens the gift of wisdom within us.
As you circle to land on the sea side of the airport you might catch a glimpse of Long Island in the distance to the Southeast – across an angry sea to this volcanic island which erupted 300 years ago and made its mark on the world, causing a time of darkness. It is too far away to see it in detail. But with the help of modern technology, Google Earth, one can see the great beauty of this volcanic island.
Long Island features a beautiful blue lake in its spent crater – and as you scroll closer and closer to it, the name of the lake pops up on your computer – Lake Wisdom. Wouldn’t it be great if we could drink thewater of that lake and gain wisdom? (DWU Foundation Day Mass – 22 August 2014)

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Social Concerns Notes – July 2014

Whose children are malnourished and dying? By Fr John Glynn WeCARe! Foundation. 21 July 2014 THE headline on the front page of the Post-Courier last Wednesday, Malnutrition Kills, was accompanied by Unicef statistics which are terrifying in their implications. One revealed that 45% of Papua New Guinea’s children have stunted growth. This means that, because they are malnourished from birth, almost half of PNG’s young people do not grow to reach their proper size and strength. It also means that their brains are undernourished and so do not reach their full level of mental ability. A report published last year by Australian and PNG researchers showed that about 80% of Papua New Guineans are functionally illiterate and uneducated. Now we are told that almost half of our children are growing up physically and mentally retarded. Of course, the children who are suffering from malnutrition are not “our” children. They are not the children of the blessed 20% or so of the population who are educated, employed, and able to take care of themselves and share in the increasing wealth of this lucky country. The one child in 13 who dies before the age of five; the 14 in every hundred who suffer “wasting” diseases and die by the age of six or seven, and the rest who grow up mentally and physically retarded are the children of the 80% of the population who are illiterate, uneducated, and in many cases suffer from extreme poverty. This situation should be completely intolerable and unacceptable to every thinking citizen of PNG. There should be an outcry from every corner of the country for a war on poverty and ignorance. But, of course, it won’t happen. The poor have no voice. This 80% of the population have little or no access to radio or television, and cannot read the papers – which are not written for them in any case. And you will not meet any of them on Facebook or Twitter. It is so easy to ignore them, and to live our lives as if they didn’t exist.

Em i no Wanpis

Post Courier July 22, 2014. By Gary T Bustin HE APPEARED from nowhere when I opened the Land Cruiser door to unload our suitcases at Jackson’s International Airport. He reached in quickly and said in perfect English, “May I help you with these bags?” I looked him over and saw a frail boy with tattered clothes, dirty skin, and a big, bright smile. He was eager to do his job and seemed unaware that he was dirty and that his body was not well. My foreign guests, including an executive from a top children’s hospital, and I followed as he pushed our bags down the ramp and I remember thinking to myself that he looked to be about my own son’s age. When we went through security I asked his name in Tok Pisin and his reply, “Wanpis”, which means “all alone”, took me so off guard that I got choked up and had to turn away momentarily. He took pride in his work and talked with international travellers in line as if he too was off on some big adventure. The more I watched him the more my heart ached for this little boy who obviously had the courage of a lion but with no one to care for him. When I inquired he told me that his parents were both gone and that he lived on the streets with his friends. … PNG has a growing problem with street children as urbanization increases and family units continue to fall apart. The Tribal Foundation has been working in this area and has provided funding to Life PNG Care, a home that provides love and opportunity to as many children as their budget allows. Colin Pake has been the champion of this cause and as soon as I had access to email I sent the picture of Wanpis and asked Colin to find him and look after him. It was a few weeks later when I received an email from Colin that Wanpis had been found and that he was living in a drain with several other children. Colin enrolled Wanpis in fifth grade at Erima Primary School, looked after his needs, and took him to the doctor to get his health checked. Things went well for a while but Wanpis grew weaker and was unable to attend school. On July 15, 2014 Wanpis lost his battle with tuberculosis and his young life ended before it really ever began.

Anthropologist: Expose street kids problem

Post Courier, July 25, 2014 (Nancy Sullivan) Over the last ten years, “street children” have become commonplace to towns, truck stops, mining camps and settlements. Across the country, children of broken homes and those sent from the village to town to live with relatives become frighteningly vulnerable to the street life: when parents and wantoks face hardship, these children are sent to work on the streets selling everything from smokes to sex, often straddling the realms of crime along with the informal economy. We produced the 2010 report Working Street Children of Papua New Guinea: A Public Policy Challenge. But “street kids” is not the best term for them in PNG, because they bear little resemblance to the classic image of pickpockets and child gangs found in capital cities elsewhere. For the most part, they are not orphans (even if they have lost immediate parents, they often live with wantoks) and they work very hard for daily food and shelter. They make a living on the streets, and more often than not are providing for siblings, wantoks and even parents with whom they live. These are the youngest members of that population that has become collateral damage of rapid social change. They have fled their village homes from domestic violence, tribal fighting, overpopulation, and a million other symptoms of an economy moving at warp speed from subsistence agriculture to a working wage, and from traditional marriages to love matches and unwanted pregnancies and new forms of polygamy. Migration across provinces, a spike in sorcery accusations against women, education without employment opportunities, have all put enormous pressure on what was once a healthy extended family life in the village. Our research confirmed what many of us suspected already, that orphanages are not the best option for these kids, because they tend to generate landless kids with no ancestral identity. Our report recommended more support and acknowledgement of the many NGOs working for and with woman and children at risk, as they have proliferated, offering more personalises, less institutional responses to the problem. The “problem” is also different by gender, age, and location. What our team found was that, almost to a child, this wave of kids working on the streets is much like the kids in villages across PNG: they are bright, self-reliant, tasked with impossible jobs that they perform with aplomb, and desperate for a better family and home life than what the cities can offer. These are not thieves, for the most part, and many of them go home to parents with their earnings. But they need more food stations, refuges, and counselling or “big brothering” and “big sistering” than they can get right now…. The author is an anthropologist by profession and more information about her work can be found on her website

Report: Child abuse rife

Post Courier July 25,2014 CHILDREN of tender age have been forced into sex and street work, an ILO report has found that: • 175 child sex workers were interviewed. It is noted that an additional 12 child sex workers refused to be interviewed at a brothel where they operated • The175 child sex workers interviewed were mainly girls. 14 male sex workers and 2 transgender sex workers were also interviewed, indicating the existence of both male and female clients who demanded the services of these young children. • The survey found that most of the child sex workers interviewed lived with their families. The youngest child interviewed was 12 years old. Some children indicated that they had started getting involved in the trade from as young as 10 years of age. • The survey also found incidences of child trafficking involving guardians and parents who sold their children to either clients or a husband. • The children were engaged in commercial sex work (prostitution) through different avenues: brothels, guest houses, night clubs, along the streets, in settlements, and through pimps. The children were paid an average of 50 kina per client. All of the children in the study involved in commercial sex work consumed alcohol although they were under age. • Children who participated in the survey of ‘street children’ were children working on the street (either staying at home with their families or staying on the street) and were involved mainly in activities such as street vending, trafficking controllers and in illicit activities and hazardous work. • Children below the age of 18 years engaged in illicit activities and hazardous work were categorised as children in the worst forms of child labour. These are excerpts from the report “Child Labour in Papua New Guinea” released in 2011 by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and sanctioned by the PNG Government.

Welfare officer: Street children deserve better

Post Courier July 25,2014 CHILDREN in Papua New Guinea are an important part of any society but they are not treated with high regard in some places. In urban centres such as Port Moresby, there are a growing number of them eating and sleeping on the streets, thus referred as “street kids”. Yesterday this newspaper queried the Community Development’s director of Lukautim (Child Welfare) Pikinini, Simon Yanis, about the issue and he agreed that these children whom he refuses to call “street children” are on the increase. “Generally, you see a lot of children loitering, loitering everywhere. It’s a public knowledge,” he said. He says as director of Lukautim Pikinini he feels ashamed when he is approached by these kids for money or food because the office he is in charge of does not have the means to help them. Mr Yanis has taken charge of the office since last year during a political impasse as well as a tussle over the leadership within the Department of Community Development, under which is the Child Welfare Office. But when asked whether he has any powers to do something, he says he is helpless, unless the Lukautim Pikinini Act 2009, which is being reviewed, is passed by the National Parliament. He hopes this will be done soon as the legislation has provisions that will pave the way for issues facing children to be tackled better. The LPA 2007, which replaced the Child Welfare Act 1961, was revised in 2009 and is now under review again to include important provisions, including issues relating to children in court and repealing of the laws on deserted wives and children….

Questions in the minds of people

Post Courier, 8 July, 2014 PRIME Minister Peter O’Neill has put questions in the minds of people when he did not adhere to the set procedures in law. Head of the Anglican Church Arcbishop Clyde Igara said this when commenting on the current political turmoil in the country. He said many people in the churches have been silent as they expected the Prime Minister and others involved in the current political saga to come out and openly tell the truth rather than keeping people in suspense, guessing and wondering what will happen next. “They cannot be hiding at the back of their lawyers who at the tax-payers expense are battling it out to protect their selfish interests,’’ he said. He said PNG being a Christian country has its silent majority who are waiting for the Prime Minister and other political leaders involved to come out openly and declare the truths regarding the current political events. “And in doing so – the truths revealed to us will ‘set them free’ to continue to lead our nation with confidence and trust,’’ Archbishop Igara said. When highlighting the cause of the current turmoil, he said the rule of law is same for everyone, including political leaders. “If the Prime Minister, Peter O’Neill had submitted to the rule of law, his innocence would have been proven three weeks ago. But instead he had engaged his lawyers – to stay the warrant of arrest,’’ he said. “The staying of the warrant of arrest did not prove the Prime Minister’s innocence but induced many questions in the minds of the people…. Archbishop Igara said there are questions in the minds of Papua New Guineans that need to be answered. These include why disband one investigating body and create another? “Why sack the police officers and appoint new ones? Why sack the ministers and replace them with new ones? “And the latest being the Prime Minister to withdraw from the legal battle and refer his case to the new Police Commissioner, Geoffrey Vaki to handle. And the question now is how independent is the new commissioner to execute this task – in unveiling the truth which the general public are looking forward to hear.’’

Tired of poor governance, people yearn for a new dawn 01 July 2014 Fr Giorgio Lucini | Catholic Reporter PNG WE leave it to the courts to determine if presumed legal services by Paul Paraka Lawyers were really met with illegal payments by prime minister Peter O’Neill and others. We also stay out of the political wrangling that inevitably accompanies inquiries into government officials and politicians. Nor do we care much about political careers that may end or blossom according to court rulings. We just note that the soul searching the country is undergoing these days reveals a deep yearning for a new beginning. Since independence Papua New Guinea has been marred by poor governance and corruption. Now people had enough. They had enough of dubious payments, uncompleted projects, political consent, and votes captured every five years with unfulfilled promises. Mr O’Neill and colleagues always repeat the same refrain: judge us at the election in 2017. But what if, by then, the country is financially, socially and morally bankrupt. Outgoing ministers and members of parliament are not going to pay a price for it, but the common people will suffer. There is something missing in a democracy when constitutional changes become too easy and parliamentary opposition is almost nil. Thank God the judiciary appears to be vibrant and independent in Papua New Guinea. But government and politicians should not blame the media when they prove to be the last bulwark of democracy. Who else is going to expose bad or wrong decisions when parliament is an accomplice and the judiciary cannot acquire necessary proof? The dream for a clean and honest running of the public affairs is palpable among young people. There is a third post-independence generation of Papua New Guineans emerging after the Somares and the O’Neills. They want a more mature democratic process and a totally transparent management of public wealth and funds. They are preparing for it. Please, don’t stand in their way.

Bishops call for peaceful solution

Post Courier, July 02,2014 The Catholic Bishop’s Conference in PNG and Solomon Islands has called on the PNG leaders to find a peaceful and truthful resolution of the current political turmoil. President for the conference, Bishop Arnold Orowae, said honesty and commitment for the common good are essential ingredients of worthy politics. “Moreover in a true democratic system political authority is accountable to the people it represents. It seems to us that at this time worthy politics and democracy are at risk in Papua New Guinea,” Bishop Orowae said. “No person, including members of parliament, is above the law. There is the one law for everyone in Papua New Guinea. Yet recent events, with accusations, dismissals and political manoeuvrings appear to disrespect the Constitution and the rule of law,” he said. “Our people continue to search for security and prosperity in a socio-political scene that seems even more confusing and complex,” the bishop said. Bishop Orowae said instability and oppressive law enforcement reflecting the interest of a few is hurting our entire society. If this continues it will be detrimental for the nation. Investors confidence and the nations good image will be lost. Referring to the Bible’s John 8:3, on truth, “As Church leaders we call for a peaceful and truthful resolution of the current political turmoil. The values we refer to are found not only in the Holy Bible, but are expressed in civil law, yet have their origin in God. In God’s name we call on the elected leaders of this nation to give priority to the respect for law, and for the common good and future of our nation,” he said.

Kina value dips

The National, 27th of June, 2014 THE recent revaluation of the kina adversely affects farmers and producers who would rather see a weaker currency, according to an economic expert. Paul Barker, the Institute of National Affairs executive director, was commenting on the recent downward trend of the value of kina after its upward spike two weeks ago following its revaluation by the Central Bank. He said there were forecasts of more inflow with better foreign exchange earnings (from the liquefied natural gas) although “that’s still down the track”. He said the lower kina “is, of course, preferable to for producers and exporters of agricultural products, denoted in US dollars, and for tourist operators that sell their packages in US dollars, which then converts into a higher kina value”. “The recent revaluation caused a major drop in commodity prices to PNG farmers and exporters,” he said. He said investors were depending on a healthy stable economy to do their businesses.
He said they depended on political stability. He said the current political situation “is serious and needs to be resolved openly, transparently and in accordance with the law, in a manner which restores public confidence in the system and the leadership”.

RH has become the Government of PNG. By Andrew Lattas. I have just arrived back from Pomio, where the clear felling of the bush and subsequent oil palm planting are in full swing despite the fact that the vast majority of villagers oppose both. Villagers are powerless to stop these activities which continue even though SABLs have recently supposedly been revoked. This looks likely to have the same status as the police commissioners public order (Dec 2011) that police be pulled out of logging camp sites. The police never were removed, and it is only their continued presence, violence and intimidation that prevents villagers from setting up road blocks to protect their land, gardens and environment. What is clear to me is that for most local villagers in Pomio the state has shifted away from them and is largely in the pockets of large Malaysian logging companies. These companies control important governments departments and officials in crucial departments such as Lands, Forestry and the police force. The same applies to other officials in District administration, Local Level Government, Provincial Administration and national government departments. Nearly all sectors of the state have been co-opted into coercive pro-development policies that seek to privatise land and resources without villagers consent. … Police and company directors often tell complaining villagers that the land is no longer theirs but belongs to the state which has leased it from them so as to lease it again to the Malaysian companies. The state has become the crucial intermediary in the forced process through which villagers lose control of their resources and especially their land. Much of this depends upon the production of dubious reports by the Lands Department that collects and produces lists of signatures that are highly selective in that they are not the signatures of major clan leaders and of those who represent the majority of villagers….. Through the SABLs and the Private, Public Partnerships, the Somare government created two interlocking policies that have institutionalised corruption in PNG to a point where villagers find it almost impossible to achieve forms of justice concerning the fraudulent nature of state processes that have been effectively dispossessed them of huge areas of land. …. (For full article see blog address above)

Call to stop the sale of voter ID cards

Solomon Star News. 03 July 2014 A CHIEF in Gela Constituency has called on constituents to refrain from selling their voter’s identification cards to supporters of intending candidates. Chief Michael Lalaoma of Kobe village made the call in light of the increasing incidences of the sale of ID cards in the constituency.

He said: “It is a great concern for the community to see supporters of the intending candidates going around paying and collecting ID cards, particularly around Kobe and Salesapa villages.”

He said people within these communities must be cautioned against this illegal practice.

“I called on those involved to refrain from this illegal practice.”

New school syllabus to be introduced next year

The National, F4th of July, 2014 THE Department of Education will implement the standard-based curriculum next year. Steven Tandale, the Curriculum and Assessment Division director, said the new curriculum was a “body of knowledge and set of competencies that form the basis of a quality education”. The curriculum defines what students should know and includes the accompanying teaching contents. “It is a continuous process that provides the pupils’ performance data to teachers and students regarding their progress to achieving education standards,” he said. The four elementary syllabuses have been developed for English, Mathematics, Culture and Communities, and Home Language. This was the result of a teachers’ assessment last month during a workshop. He said using home language enhanced early childhood learners. “For instance, Engans speak one language. The same language can be taught in elementary school because it links and enhances their knowledge,” he said. Tandale said Education Minister Nick Kuman had already considered the standard-based curriculum to be used as the outcome-based syllabus was phased out.

Corruption in Bougainville is letting down all that we fought for 4 July 2014 Leonard Fong Roka AS a student without any connection with the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) or Bougainville Administration, I have no influence over the decisions my necktie-wearing, long sleeved and polished booted bureaucrats do in their fine Buka offices and elsewhere in Bougainville. But I can talk as a Bougainvillean who endured the pain of the 10-year crisis after 1988 and who has a desire to see my Solomon Island of Bougainville move forward into the nationhood that is our goal and which we paid for with our tears and blood. Corruption is an ailment affecting Bougainville, public and private Bougainville institutions and the Bougainvillean people. … I am sad that my brothers and sisters and I are swimming in an ocean of corruption. Many foreign eyes are watching Bougainville and its politics. As Bougainvilleans we are tending to ignore the significant spot we have attained in the polity of the Pacific. In an alarming article in The National newspaper of 2 September 2013 (Auditor finds ‘massive corruption’ in Bougainville bureaucracy) Malum Nalu reported: Massive corruption among the bureaucracy on Bougainville is the order of the day as it pushes for full autonomy and possible independence, according to deputy auditor-general, Peter Siparau. President John Momis, concurred with Siparau, saying the audacity and arrogance of some public servants there defied imagination. It is true that Bougainvilleans are ‘a law unto themselves’ and this is a safe haven for corruption. Bougainville has a climate conducive to germinating and protecting corruption. Yet this contradicts our identity as long time fighters against exploitation, which is no different from corruption. ….

Students lack interest in Cultural Courses

PNG Loop, 6 July. The interest of students enrolling at cultural courses at the University of Papua New Guinea’s School of Humanities and Social Sciences is lacking. School Dean Professor Betty Lovai revealed this at the Regional Cultural Education Strategy forum yesterday. She said less and less students are taking up courses like Anthropology, Linguistics and Literature. “It’s come to a point where I sometimes question whether we should keep offering those courses.” “Sometimes we have just one or two students putting first choice for these courses while the rest are second and third choices,” says Lovai. Linguistics lecturer Dr Kilala Devete-Chee says students signing up for her courses have dropped to as low as 15 from 80 five years ago. – See more at:

Findings on Family, Sexual Violence.

The National, July 1st, 2014 Family and sexual violence has been a problem in the country for ages but only recently has it been addressed, it has been revealed. Medecins Sans Frontieres has released its findings on how family and sexual violence had been tackled in the country and suggested ways to combat it. The non-government organisation has been treating people affected by family and sexual violence since December 2007. It has treated more than 18,000 individuals with emergency medical and psychological care in Lae, Tari and Port Moresby. These include women, children and men who had been raped, beaten and physically or sexually violated by family members, spouses, partners and parents. The report said: “Since MSF and partners began working with family and sexual violence in PNG, there has been a real progress. According to a report, its experience of providing medical care for survivors of family sexual violence in Lae, Tari and now Port Moresby has brought to light a range of challenges that health providers faced in responding to family and sexual violence. “But to overcome those challenges, a quality medical response with effective community awareness could deliver strong benefits for survivors by providing them with essential curative and preventive care. “At the same time services in collecting valuable data that make a key contribution to longer terms efforts to tackle the family sexual violence emergency in the country.”

Concerns over dynamite fishing 03 July 2014 CALLS have been made to the responsible authorities to apprehend people involved in dynamite fishing in Gela, Central Province. Dynamite fishing have been increasingly prevalent on Gela, particularly in Belaga district, according to Daniel Manedika of Kobe village.

He said residents of Tavulea and Kobe villages have been practicing this method of fishing on a daily basis and this raises a lot of concern to the villagers.
Dynamite fishing is the practice of using explosives to stun or kill schools of fish for easy collection.

He said dynamite fishing can be extremely destructive to the surrounding ecosystem, as the explosion often destroys the underlying habitat such as coral reefs that supports the fish.

“We therefore call on Tulagi police and the responsible authorities to make regular visits to the area and to apprehend those responsible,” Mr Manedika said.

More rural doctors needed

Post Courier July 08,2014, 02:00 pm Story courtesy of Radio New Zealand A group representing doctors in the country said critical shortage of doctors in rural areas is putting people’s lives at risk. The president of the Society of Rural and Remote Health, David Mills, said there is no hard data on the distribution of doctors but most of its districts do not have a resident doctor. He further mentioned that “the reality for the vast majority of rural areas in the country is that if you get sick or you break a leg or you have an obstructive labour or something terribly serious, the reality is that you are just going to either get better or you are going to die from that and nobody may be there to make a difference one way or another.” However David Mills said he remains optimistic about the situation as there are some very committed young Papua New Guinean doctors beginning to work in rural areas. Dr Mills also says he hopes to see the Government get behind rural doctor training schemes to encourage more doctors to work in remote areas.

Fish stock depleting at an alarming rate Hetri 0 Comment Jul 9, 2014 Despite aggressively dialogue between the department of fisheries, the National government and other relevant stakeholders as well as their overseas counterpart, the fish stock in Papua New Guinea is being depleted at an alarming rate. It is a known and oft quoted widely in PNG and overseas media and discussed fact that overfishing in the high seas and coastal areas in recent decades has resulted in fish stocks depleting precipitously, though there is rarely any agreement between various concerned parties of how much the decline has been in real terms. “But there is no doubt that fish stock continues to be depleted despite measures and treaties that have been put in place. While such measures have helped raise awareness of the issue, success in curbing overfishing has been limited” reports Island Business. The fact remains clear that the current situation in PNG, like anywhere else in the world is driven by demand and supply. “As the world’s population increases and economic growth boosts affordability of more and more people to raise their living standards, the demand for protein based food increases. Island Business, however warns that the demand is expected to grow even faster in the next few decades and the race to supply that demand will undoubtedly deplete resources further before the balance that is sought from sustainable farming practices begins to make any difference – See more at:

Experts: TB to be named public health emergency

Post Courier July 09, 2014 Story courtesy of ABC Radio Australia Health experts are calling for tuberculosis to be declared as a public health emergency in the country after a seven-month study into TB infection rates found that many people in rural areas are dying from the disease without ever being diagnosed. The PNG Institute of Medical Research study said rural areas of the population have some of the highest incidences of TB in the world. Researcher Dr Suparat Phuanukoonnon said that TB is poorly understood in the country, and many people die from TB without it ever being diagnosed. She further claimed “[TB] has been neglected and the health system is also not functioning very well so a lot of TB [patients are] basically just sitting there in a rural area, in the village and have never been diagnosed, never been treated, so when we actually conducted our study, you see that we probably have a world-class TB rate,” she told Pacific Beat. Dr Phauanukoonnon is calling on the government to treat TB as seriously as it does HIV/AIDS, and declare the situation a national emergency.

Abe’s Wife Encourages Girls

The National, Friday July 11th, 2014 YOUNG women of Caritas Technical Secondary School in Port Moresby have been encouraged to excel in their studies to become successful. The students were fortunate to have the wife of Japanese Prime Minister, Akie Abe, drop by their school for a brief visit yesterday after arriving from Australia for a two-day state visit. She told the students to utilise and showcase the technical skills that they have been taught at such an institution. She was pleased that education was one of the priority areas that the Japanese Government was assisting Papua New Guinea in. Abe was given a traditional welcome by the students upon her arrival on campus and was met by the wife of PNG Prime Minister Linda Babao O’Neill and were both escorted into the chapel. Abe presented gifts to school principal Sr Florentina Chao and Babao.

School demands students pay K250,000 reparation for sports death 14 July 2014 THE Rosary Secondary School at Kondiu in Simbu Province began its third term on a dramatic note when students were told to show up with K100 before normal classes would resume. The students were asked to jointly contribute a sum of K250,000 in compensation for the death last month of a Grade 11 student during a schoolboys rugby league match between Kondiu and Kerowagi Secondary. The relatives of the victim demanded that his school, Kondiu, pay the K250,000. The amount was divided among all students, teachers, and ancillary staff. Students were told to return to school after the second term holiday with nothing less than K100. When students returned to school they found that the payment had to be made before they could attend classes. From last Monday, the principal persistently demanded the students to provide K100 each. Classes did not commence and students were told to go home and return with the K100 compensation. During the week, many students were seen on the streets of Kundiawa with small yellow envelopes looking for district administrators, members of parliament and business houses to sponsor them. Angry and anxious parents convened to question the principal’s integrity and his authority for harshly penalising every student in this way. Parents demanded a better explanation and said that the school should meet the claim instead of demanding that students pay.

Govt plans to expand pension program

Post Courier, July 15,2014, 03:12 am PRIME Minister Peter O’Neill has highlighted the government’s intention to extend the national pension program to all Papua New Guineans once they turn 65 years of age. Speaking at Taurama Barracks, the Prime Minister said it was the right of all men and women to be taken care of in their old age. “Due to the strength of the economy, I can tell you that our country can afford to look after our people when they retire,” the Prime Minister said. “After working hard through their years, people need to know that they can relax after they retire and that the government will take care of them.” The Prime Minister said the pension scheme will be delivered as the next step of the current program underway to roll out a national identification program. “We have already started working on the pension plan for people over the age of 65. “Right now we are introducing a national ID program for the entire country that will register each and every one of us. “Once we have this in place we will have the statistics on how many people will retire each year, and then we can plan our budget accordingly.”

Asylum seekers ‘removed’ from PNG

Story courtesy of Radio New Zealand Refugee advocates say witnesses to a fatal attack on an asylum seeker at Australia’s Manus Island detention centre in Manus are in extreme danger. Australia’s Refugee Action Coalition says asylum seekers raised the alarm on Monday after Wilson Security guards allegedly removed two of their representatives and another asylum seeker, who has since been returned. The group’s spokesperson, Ian Rintoul, says Wilson Security seemed to be responding to routine complaints about the use of the internet and phone. But Mr Rintoul says the three people were witnesses to an attack on February 17, when asylum seeker Reza Berati was killed and are extremely vulnerable. “There is no doubt that they have been in danger since the 17th of February and remain in danger. There are very powerful forces in Manus Island that do not want them to give evidence in any court of law about what they have seen.” Ian Rintoul says Australia’s Immigration Minister, Scott Morrison, has a duty of care to guarantee asylum seekers’ safety.

Health workers receive praise

The National, Wednesday July 16th, 2014 The St John Ambulance workers did a tremendous job in the recently ended 5th Melanesian Festival of Arts and Culture in Port Moresby, health officer Rosemary Munaga said.
She said she had only 20 first aid staff but they provided the best health service at the two week-long festival.
Munaga said they treated 100 patients a week for sickness such as stomach aches, fever, malaria and diarrhoea.
“Out of these 100 patients, 10 or 12 were from the other Melanesian countries but most were Papua New Guineans,” she said. 
She said some cuts and wounds were treated at the festival sites but the severe ones were referred to the Gerehu St John clinic.
“This was our first time to go out to events and provide medication and do referrals and we successfully completed our task,” she said.
“We will be fully prepared in fuure events like the upcoming 2015 Pacific Games.”

2172 new HIV cases

The National, July 17th, 2014 OF 31,945 people living with HIV in the country, 2172 of them are new infections.
This was revealed during the National Economic Fiscal Commission conference in Kimbe, West New Britain last week.
Deputy director ofthe PNG National AIDS Council Secretariat Dr Moale Kariko said prevalence was highest in the National Capital District and the Highlands region where 90% of all reported cases came from.
He said the key population more associated with the prevalence included female sex workers, men who had sex with men and transgender individuals.
He said a great challenge was that key populations were more difficult to reach due to stigma and legal barriers.
Kariko said new infections, regarded as those infected from last year, were still difficult to establish except through modelling, adding there were 1000 new diagnoses or new reported cases in 2012. 
However, actual infections could have occurred years before but just been found. 
Kariko’s presentation during the conference highlighted that an estimated 26% of people needing Antiretroviral Treatment (ART) were still not accessing it.
In 2012, 11,764 of the HIV population were on ART which was 74 %.
Kariko said rates of HIV testing in sexual transmitted infections and Tuberculosis servicesalso remained low despite known high infection rates in STI and TB clients.

Revivalist churches dangerous campaign for ‘faith-healing’ AIDS 23 July 2014 Australia Network News | Extract REVIVALIST churches in Papua New Guinea are promoting prayer as a substitute for medication to those with HIV, according to human rights groups. PNG is a deeply Christian society, and most mainstream churches are trying to improve attitudes to those living with HIV. But with poor medical facilities and a widespread belief in sorcery, belief in faith healing is growing. “The original thinking in PNG, given the facts and figures around sexually transmitted infections and unwanted teen pregnancies – behavioural information – certainly gave us the idea that we were heading towards a sub-Saharan African style epidemic,” UNAIDS country co-ordinator Stuart Watson said. But that generalised epidemic has not happened. Instead, the virus has been localised to the Highlands, Morobe Province and the National Capital District. Pastor Godfrey Wippon heads PNG’s Revival Centres and says his is the fastest growing religious movement in the country. “It is growing because of healings, miracles, wonders, science happening in this ministry. The Lord heals,” he said. On a beach in Port Moresby, revivalists gather to sing and watch as new recruits are baptised and speak in tongues. Pastor Wippon believes baptism and prayer can cure AIDS and even bring the dead back to life. Health workers have told the ABC revivalists visit hospitals and clinics telling HIV patients to throw away their medication. In a case that shocked many, one of PNG’s first openly HIV-positive women, Helen Samilo, fell prey to the revivalist message. Even though she was working as an advocate for anti-retroviral treatment, Ms Samilo joined a revivalist church, stopped taking medication, and died in August last year.

Financing health facilities and the free health policy in PNG: challenges and risks By Colin Wiltshire and Andrew Anton Mako on July 14, 2014 Providing free primary health care is a key policy priority of the current Papua New Guinea Government. The Prime Minister, Peter O’Neill, has made reference to his government’s aspirations of ‘saving mothers the one and two kina’ that it can cost them and their children to visit health facilities across the country. The introduction of a free health care policy can be perplexing in the PNG context, considering primary health services should already be provided free of charge. Rather than enforcing existing laws and policies, the central premise of the new policy is to subsidise health facilities with direct payments in place of fees they would have collected from patients. While such an arrangement may seem sound in theory, the PNG Government has long struggled to find practical solutions for funding health facilities to deliver services. The free health policy came into effect on 24 February, 2014 but has been met with apprehension from those tasked with its implementation. Health service providers and officials have expressed deep concerns about the implementation of the policy. Hospital managers have said that it could ‘cost people their lives’ calling it a ‘politicians’ policy’, while one prominent public official (who will remain nameless) has publically stated that health services are already weak in PNG and this free health policy could collapse the system. … Survey findings from the Promoting Effective Public Expenditure (PEPE) Project suggest that health officials have good reason to suspect that the immediate implementation of the policy could well impact the ability of health facilities to deliver services. In September 2013, the PEPE project presented the preliminary findings of health survey data labelled ‘PNG’s lost decade’, which compared our results to a similar study from 2002 to show that health services had generally declined over the last 10 years. Significant weaknesses across the health system were revealed, such as deteriorated infrastructure, health workers not at their posts and shortages of available drugs despite large increases in funding to the sector over the same period. One key finding was the reliance on user fees for health facilities to deliver front-line services, as a common, reliable funding source was not evident from the survey data. Most health facilities do not submit budgets or plans in anticipation of receiving funding. Of those that do submit budgets, less than half receive any funding as a result and the average value of funding received is generally much lower than has been budgeted. (for the full article see the blog address above).

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment