Social Concerns Notes – March 2013

Health dilemma

Post Courier 20 March

MORE than 300 nursing positions advertised for the country’s biggest referral hospital are all yet to be filled.
The positions for Port Moresby General Hospital were advertised last year; unfortunately most were not filled because people have not applied, or those who applied have not met the criteria set down. These positions will be re-advertised later this year.
One of the main reasons the hospital lacks these important people is that health workers are leaving the public services to seek better jobs elsewhere or with the private health institutions, the mining companies or the LNG project Medical Services Director for Port Moresby General Hospital David Mokela gave an example of the PMGH four operating theatres where is only one in use with 12 nursing staff working 24 hours. 
The operating theatre lacks 50 percent of nursing staff to fully equip it to make it complete. A stroll down the labour ward reveals signs of over worked and stressed midwives working tirelessly. They too lack in numbers. PMGH currently has 19 midwives at its labour ward, delivering 40-50 babies per day and approximately 1200 babies per month and over 12,000 a year.
The president of PNG Midwifery Society and labour ward supervisor last year, described the workload as “just too much” for her and her workers.
One of main outstanding issues is the lack of human resource, particularly nursing staff to mend the special nursery care centre. The facility needs at least a total of 40 registered nurses and community health workers (CHW). However, at present there are only 14 nursing officers and CHW’s.

Workforce need triggers poor health indicators

Post Courier 22nd March

THE shortage in the health care workforce is one of the main reasons why the country is riddled with poor health indicators.
The human resources must be addressed by relevant authorities and if nothing is done, the health system may collapse with indicators spiralling downwards. This is a concern shared by the Churches Medical Council of PNG.
Chairman for the Council, Wallace Kintak, in a response to this paper’s report on the shortage of nursing staff at Port Moresby General Hospital said the shortage was felt in all health facilities in the country.
“Major hospitals are struggling to keep the operation going. Church health services are struggle so badly to keep their operations going because of salary disparity and also of less number of health care workers. Their staff ceiling has not been increased in the last 10-15 years. Rural health centres are suffering most, this trend is leading to more deaths, and people are dying silently because of literally no health workers to serve them. Human resource in health sector is a major constraint in achieving health outcomes and objectives,” World Health Organization (WHO) recommends at least 23 health workers per 10,000 residents to provide basic care, including vaccinations; PNG has five nurses and doctors per 10,000 residents. 
According to a government report in 2012, PNG health worker density is estimated to be 0.58 per 1000 population compared to the recommended density of 2.5 per 1000 for the effective provision of primary health care.
The report also points out that 20 percent have passed the legal retirement age of 55.

Resistant TB on the rise

Post Courier 6 March 2013

FOUR people are confirmed with Extreme Drug Resistant (XDR) TB in Western Province, 
according to the National TB program.
There are also 90 confirmed cases of Multi Drug Resistant (MDR) TB in Western province
Multi-Drug Resistant TB or MDR-TB is a form of TB that is difficult and expensive to treat because it fails to respond to standard first line drugs.
Extensively Drug Resistant TB or XDR-TB occurs when resistance to second-line drugs develops on top of MDR-TB. 
XDR-TB is virtually 
Preventing MDR-TB must begin by ensuring patients take their medication every day until cured. Inconsistency, is the predominant means by which a resilience to first line drugs is developed.
In a media visit to two TB clinics in the nation’s capital yesterday, Sister Miriam Avae, a TB nurse at 6 Mile clinic confirmed 800 patients were reported to the clinic last year. 
She stated new cases are recorded and on the rise but did not compare with previous years. 
Currently, the clinic sees 40-50 patients every day, from within 6 Mile, Gordon, and parts of Central Province. 
Badili clinic sees about 10 patients daily.
Sr Miriam said her main frustration is patients defaulting from TB treatment. Her frustration is shared by many other people in the 
fight against TB.

Read more:

TB Horror

The National, Thursday 07th March, 2013

ONE Papua New Guinean dies from tuberculosis every two hours, according to a fact sheet provided by World Vision.
And it says that every year, 16,000 new cases of the disease are detected. It includes 2,900 people also infected with HIV.
The statistics were provided during a panel discussion organised by the national TB programme.
Programme manager Dr Paul Aia said tuberculosis had become a social welfare problem in the country which needed a collective effort to fight it to bring it under control. Aia said about 20,000 cases were recorded in the country in the last quarter.
He said the figures were from cases reported at health facilities around the country. But it could be more than what was reported.
“We need everybody to come onboard to stop the transmission,” Aia said during a panel discussion on the programme with the media on Tuesday.
TB is an airborne disease caused by a germ and is contagious. It is spread from a sick person to other people through coughing, sneezing or spitting.

TB doctor: TB germ is everywhere

Post Courier, 25 March

TUBERCULOSIS (TB) germ is everywhere and can be in any person’s body without the person knowing.
According to a TB doctor, the germ is in everybody’s human system, but is dormant until right time.
Port Moresby General Hospital TB specialist and clinician Dr Joseph Bana-Koiri said people must not be alarmed by this message.
To avoid getting infected, his message on World TB which fell yesterday, is for people to live simple lives, live healthy, eat well and exercise. 
He also said the eliminator of TB was not drug; it was a person’s responsibility to live a healthy life.
He noted that the biggest problem why TB was around was because patients defaulted from medication and when this did happen, it became a problem for the patient, the health worker and the health system.
Another TB specialist with the Port Moresby General Hospital Dr Philip Golpak compared TB cases in adults and children at PMGH in the past four years.
He said in 2011, PMGH had a total attendance of 3466 cases of TB both at adult and paediatric clinics. of this, 2520 were adults while 946 were paediatric TB cases.
In the past four years (2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011), adult population with TB were lower compared to children. 
The clinical indicators show a decrease in adult cases while there is an increase in children’s cases. The comparisons at the adult clinic are: 2008 — 5058; 2009 — 6176; 2010 — 7008; and 2011 had 2520 cases.
Paediatric cases show: 2008 — 2322; 2009 — 2354; 2010 — 1480 and in 2011, there were 946.
Dr Goldpak cautioned that it is predicted by survey that one child in every 13 born in PNG die before the age of five years, a rate far higher than in any other country of the Pacific Region and that includes those children dying of TB which is a preventable disease.

Churches praised for providing health services

The National, 27th February, 2013

CHURCHES have been praised for their commitment in providing basic services to the people despite little support from the government.
Health and HIV/AIDS Minister Michael Malabag said the government acknowledged the role of the Church Health Services (CHS), which was a major health service provider to the rural population.
He said the government was committed to increasing its funding to support CHS in the operations and management of their services.
“The government will continue to increase the operational and staffing grants to CHS through the Health Department,” he said.
“My department, with the support of Finance Department, will establish a computerised payroll system for Church Health Services. It will be managed by the Churches Medical Council.”
CHS secretary Baru Dirye said despite the lack of funding, church health workers were committed to providing services to the people.
CHS manages 12 community health worker training schools and operates five out of eight nursing colleges in the country with full government funding.
It has a current staff of 3,557 trained health workers of which 3,027 positions are funded by the government while the rest are paid by the churches.

‘Informality’ in the World Development Report 2013: implications for PNG

Development Policy Blog February 5, 2013

The World Development Report (WDR) which takes ‘Jobs’ as its subject adopts a broad definition of ‘jobs’, pointing out that ‘almost half of all workers in developing countries are engaged in small-scale farming or self-employment, jobs that typically do not come with a steady paycheck and benefits’. This new WDR is notable for a positive, if somewhat qualified, endorsement of the value of informal economic activity.

Asking ‘why some jobs do more for development than others’, WDR 2013 concludes that jobs with the highest ‘development payoffs’ are not found only in the formal sector. Indeed, ‘informal jobs can also be transformational’ (WDR 2013, xiii). The task for government is to ‘identify which jobs would do the most for development given their specific country context’. This implies that in some ‘country contexts’ informal economic activity could be embraced as a transformational element in a national development strategy. Such an approach has already been advocated, here and here, for the specific circumstances of Papua New Guinea (PNG).

Paving the way for Port Moresby, Lae and other urban centres in PNG to become ‘economically dynamic’ will include providing national and international ‘connectivity’ (including ICT, transport and logistics) and the growth of capacity in professional services, all delivered in an environment of law and order. Of course such conditions are also appropriate to the needs of a resource rich economy, but the essential difference for PNG, considered as an agrarian economy, lies in the parallel necessity to increase the productivity of its agriculture. This is true for both subsistence and market agriculture. It is also necessary for PNG to create non-agricultural ‘jobs’ in rural areas, adding value to agricultural produce and providing the services for which demand grows as agricultural incomes rise.

Killing according to beliefs

The National, 25 February 2013

The gruesome killing of a woman last month in Mt Hagen for the charge of witchcraft or sorcery has been roundly condemned by all and sundry. This may appear an inexcusable act perpetrated by uneducated and illiterate village folk but the first step to solving any problem is understanding. What makes a normally sane person/s act in such a barbaric manner to another fellow human being? And, more importantly, what are the factors that make such violent and brazen acts still prevalent in the 21st century? The belief systems in Papua New Guinea are very much dominated by culture and tradition. Such significantly social norms such as marriages, deaths, lineal relationships, conflict resolution, leadership and decision making are still oriented toward our cultural roots. Christianity and western philosophies (education) on law and order and moral conduct are not always aligned with how our ancestors ordered their lives. Unfortunately, many people in this country still hold fast to customary practices that seem out of sync with the modern course that we tread in these times. One must remember that around 70% of Papua New Guineans are classified as rural-based and subsistence farmers.  That means many people are illiterate or uneducated and continue to cling to what they know.  We must not discount the strength of these beliefs no matter how antiquated, how backward or counter-productive we may consider them to be. The point here is that the people (Papua New Guineans), for better or for worse, believe wholly in their ancestral traditions. It is presumed that every society that inhabits this land has in their oral tradition stories and rituals regarding the spirit world and the super natural powers that are supposed to exist alongside man in the environment. These beliefs are what they use to explain the various occurrences such as death, personal misfortune, calamitous events and the like. There must be an explanation to every event. Beliefs are powerful no matter how crooked or unethically they may appear. The young woman burned alive last month may have been as innocent as the next person of any particular crime in the eyes of the law but her killers were acting within the confines of their beliefs. They justified it as such and carried out their actions without consideration for the consequences. They were acting for the good by removing an evil or a blemish on their community they believed existed. The people, who perpetrate these heinous crimes, are for the most part normal functioning members of their societies. In certain parts of the Islamic world women and girls are stoned to death for perceived transgressions against the moral code adhered to by Muslims. This is an extreme interpretation of Sharia law but that is not to say that is not done based entirely on belief. History also shows instances of people killing for their beliefs no matter how unfounded they may appear today. The witch trials of Salem, Massachusetts, in the late 1600s shows that even the governing authority of the day was not immune from acting on claims and accusations that could not be quantified or scientifically proven – it was all done on hearsay and largely a matter of what society held as evil and needed to be destroyed. The question now is how do we eradicate this practice in PNG? Making laws specific to the crime is the obvious solution.  Going as far as treating these acts as capital crimes should be a formality. Enforcing these laws is the real challenge. There cannot be any justification to behave this way in a country that not only claims to be Christian and professes to follow religious doctrine as its core truth but is in the on the path to assimilate completely to a modern world. Education or enlightenment must be a long term solution to putting an end to sorcery killings. People must understand that no matter how profound their belief, this is neither the time not the place to be killing on the misguided assumption that they are doing the right thing.

Urgent laws on sorcery required

Post Courier 4 March

THE Churches Medical Council of Papua New Guinea has called on the National Government to outlaw sorcery related killings. 
Chairman for CMC Wallace Kintak said last week.
“This superstitious belief is affecting the modern society of PNG. Even educated citizens and Christians who are supposed to advice and do the right thing in their communities are being led into these superstitious beliefs,” Mr Kintak said.
Mr Kintak added that many innocent lives are being lost in the rural areas of PNG. The CMC head said victims admit to practising sorcery after they are tortured. They have no choice under the circumstances and admit and name other innocent people and it becomes a chaotic situation for the 
community. The second provision of the law is to stop a bush doctor who is after money and claims to be a fortune teller or becomes a bush doctor who can identify a sorcerer. They claim to have special powers to identify sorcerers; they need to be punished as well. The third provision of the law should also say that, when a person opens his or her mouth that “this person has sanguma”, he should be charged 
by law.
“We also urge that all perpetrators, including the witch doctor who is said to have identified the suspects, should be detained for the “heinous crime and punished very severely through the courts in order to deter such acts by senseless fools in future,” Mr Kintak said.

The disabled lack access to buildings

Post Courier 5th March

SUCCESSIVE governments had no plans to provide easy access in public buildings for people living with disabilities in order for them to access public goods and services in the country.
Papua New Guinea Rehabilitation Centre chairman Brown Kapi in an interview yesterday said the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People Living with Disability states that governments should consider and provide easy access for people living with disability.
He said since independence, no successive government had addressed this concern. A clear example is the National Parliament where it has no pathways for people living with disabilities to move in and out of this people’s house to watch their appointed leaders (MPs) make decisions for the country.

CHS workers lauds MP

Post Courier 5th March

CHURCH Health Services has applauded the Health and HIV/AIDS Minister Michael Malabag for his commitment to address terms and conditions of the health workers throughout the country.
“We applaud the minister’s decision to have all our CHS workers put on computerised payroll system where it will be managed by CHS. Our partnership has a long tradition and we provide services where the Government cannot provide and our partnership needs to be strengthened at all levels from province to national level,’’ a statement from CHS stated last week. 
The Minister acknowledged church health services is by far the biggest partner in the provision of health service delivery and training of health workers in the country and took time to meet with CHS. 
A total of 27 Christian denominations operate these facilities ranging from rural hospitals to health centres and aid posts. CHS has a staff establishment of 3557 trained health workers. From these, 3027 positions are funded by the Government while the rest are paid by the individual churches.

Transparency International:  2012 Elections far from free and fair

The National, Tuesday 5th March, 2013

TRANSPARENCY International reported that 21% of the election process was reported as “very unfair” with 34% reporting the elections as being “very fair”.
Forty five percent stated that elections were “mostly fair”.
Despite the relative peace, the observers reported that “the elections were often far from fitting with the traditional view of a free and fair election as stated by the International Parliamentary Unions”.
The report states in part: “No election commission should see it (the statistics) as acceptable that in 45% of polling places that observers found that elections were only mostly fair and that 21% of polling places observers thought they were either mostly unfair or very unfair.
“We can see that there were regional differences with the Highlands reporting the highest levels of mostly unfair or very unfair followed by Mamose.
“No observers in the New Guinea Islands Region rated the elections as very unfair and 60% of observation in that region thought they were very fair.
“This is markedly different to the Highlands where only 12% thought they were very fair.”
Typical of comments from those who thought the election was unfair were comments relating to helpers at the polling booths being chosen by candidate supporters rather than by the voter

Read more:

PM assures students of bright future

Post Courier 6 March

PRIME Minister Peter O’Neill has acknowledged that an educated and skilled human resource is essential for national development the world over and is among a nation’s greatest wealth.
Speaking during the Divine Word University’s 31st graduation ceremony on Sunday, Mr O’Neill said his government recognizes this fact and will do all it can to ensure Papua New Guineans become successful in life.
While congratulating the 1741 graduating students from the faculties of arts, business and informatics, education, flexible learning, health sciences and DWU’s affiliated colleges, Mr O’Neill said not all will find jobs in the formal sector.
However, this should not stop them from persevering in life, whether in paid employment or as self-employed businessmen and women or entrepreneurs.
Mr O’Neill also acknowledged the role of churches in partnering with government to provide much-needed services like education and health, especially in rural areas throughout the country.
“On behalf of the government, I thank the Divine Word University for its role in training fine elite graduates who will contribute towards the development of this nation,” he said.

11 year-old girl finally accorded a decent burial

The National, 8th March, 2013

THE body of 11-year-old Stella Fono will finally be given a decent burial, thanks to the Women of Hope Ministry.  This was done out of love and faith in God, ministry founder Veronica Charlie says.  The body was left at the Port Moresby General Hospital morgue for almost a year before the ministry assisted in organising a burial at the 9-Mile cemetery. Stella’s mother, Theresa Fono of Lufa, Eastern Highlands, was satisfied her late daughter finally left the morgue after being there since April last year.
“I am finally satisfied she has a place to rest. I have gone through a lot in trying to repatriate the body back to Goroka. And with a fragile family background, there was not enough support,” she said.

The World’s Third Worst Firm Runs Manus

PNG Blogs 8 March. The full article was first published by NEW MATILDA on the 7th of March 2013

Last week detainees on Manus Island reported acute water shortages. Who is responsible for sanitation? Wendy Bacon investigates G4S, the company contracted to operate the facility. Asylum seekers on Manus Island say their hopes were crushed by visits from the Minister for Immigration Brendan O’Connor and his shadow, Scott Morrison last week. The visits took place during six days of water shortages which left toilets overflowing. Some 274 detainees, including 34 children and six pregnant women, were unable to shower or wash in the hot humid conditions. Neither politician took time to carefully investigate the conditions in the camp, in which the detainees have been imprisoned for months. Detainees told the RAC that Morrison spent 15 minutes inspecting the compound and five minutes talking to them. They say they told him about lack of water, electricity, air-conditioning, proper medical facilities including any access to emergency treatment and the problems being experienced by pregnant women. “We told him that we sleep in wet beds and about the mice and snakes,” the RAC was told. They did not see him visit the toilets.

Following the politicians’ visit to Manus, a 17-year-old Tamil girl attacked her body with a plastic knife after hearing news that a fellow asylum seeker friend on the mainland is going to school. While she suffered no serious physical injury, it was a sign of severe mental distress. Even those detainees who have been motivated to write stories say their hopes for freedom and an education are subsiding into a deep depression for which there is no treatment apart from counselling which they do not find helpful. Their depression, which psychiatrists have repeatedly warned is produced by indefinite detention, is exacerbated when toilets overflow and there is no water for showers and washing in the stifling humid conditions that have left beds and tents sodden. This was the situation when the politicians visited.

The latest person to want to investigate complaints for herself is Australia’s Human Rights Commissioner Gillian Triggs. But the Government has advised her that she cannot go to the island to verify complaints although she does have the power to investigate them from Australia.

Study: Men and boys also victims of violence

The National, Monday 11th March, 2013

MEN and boys are also victims of gender violence, a study has found.
The study was organised and supported by the United Nations Development Program, the National AIDS Council Secretariat and the Department for Community Development to assess the readiness of service providers to deliver HIV/AIDS and gender-based violence services.
It was conducted between 2010 and 2011 in Western Highlands, Chimbu, East Sepik, Madang and the Autonomous Region of Bougainville to assess the  services across health, justice and social health sectors in the country to implement GBV and HIV programmes.
Services included in the study have established response to physical, sexual and emotional abuse of women by their husbands, partners, sexual assault by non-partners and the physical, sexual and emotional abuse of children. 
The findings were compiled and put together in a report titled “Gender-Based Violence/HIV Services Delivery Readiness Assessment Report” that was launched in Port Moresby last Friday, coinciding with International Women’s Day.
It was reported that although the majority of the victims were women and girls of all ages, men and boys were also both direct and indirect victims.
The report stated that the effects of all forms of violence against both genders were physical and psychological, and had long-term consequences for the victims and their communities.

Urban primary schools in PNG: A decade of (rusty) swings and roundabouts


Challenges and opportunities at the frontline of service delivery in PNG: Enga province

Written by Andrew Anton Mako on March 1, 2013


Sexual violence in Lae: impunity and resistance

Written by Stephen Howes and Kamalini Lokuge on March 19, 2013 · 10 Comments


Institute releases findings

The National, Friday 15th March, 2013

A REPORT has found that alcohol and illicit drugs abuse has increased the risk of HIV infections among Papua New Guineans.
The report titled “Emerging HIV risk in Papua New Guinea: Alcohol and injecting and other drug use and HIV risk” was prepared by the PNG Institute of Medical Research.
It was commissioned by the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime with funding from UNAIDS.
The institute carried out its field work in September last year in four provinces – National Capital District, West Sepik, Western Highlands and Morobe.
The provinces were chosen in partnership with the study’s research advisory committee, which included UNAIDS, Correctional Services, police and other stakeholders.
Principal investigator of the study Dr Angela Kelly said they found that there was a widespread culture of intoxication due to alcohol and marijuana, often consumed simultaneously.
She said use of illicit drugs that were either injected or swallowed such as heroin or ecstasy was less common but present.
Kelly said misuse of alcohol and drugs often caused negative social and health impacts, including the increased risk of HIV through unprotected sex, whether consensual or violent.
She said despite the long term acknowledgement of the negative impacts, surprisingly little was done that was known to be effective to address the reasons for addiction, or the addiction itself and that PNG did not have trained drug and alcohol councillors, and few medical staff specialised in treating people with drug dependency

Support Road Show on Child Labour

The National, 15 March 2013

Why do Papua New Guineans have to wait for an “international day” to condemn social evils such as violence against women and girls in our country? By the same token, why do we have to wait for the ILO to initiate a road show to educate our people about child labour issues? Seemingly, our political leaders and bureaucrats are incapable of initiating these measures and therefore rely on “foreign stakeholders” to tell them what to do. Their silence on some of these social issues is almost deafening and an acknowledgement of their ignorance, deliberate or otherwise, of the seriousness of our situation. Child labour, violence against females and child prostitution are glaring examples of social evils that are turning our paradise into a devil’s backyard. We boast about being a modern Christian nation and yet allow our women and children to be susceptible to violence, sexual abuse and immoral practices. Let’s face it, more and more Papua New Guinean children are being forced to work for a living, including under-aged waitresses and courtesy girls in nightclubs and guesthouses that have been mushrooming in Port Moresby and other major centres. The city streets are crawling with under-aged vendors selling all sorts of goods and gadgets. Many of these children should be in school with the advent of free education by the O’Neill government. It has always been part of our tradition for children to learn manual labour skills at an early age to equip them for lifelong sustenance. In the village situation, children help their parents with gardening, fishing and cooking while city kids are required to do some household chores if they are not watching TV or playing with their mobile phones. Such work is not defined as child labour as it is neither fulltime nor paid employment and in the village context, it is an education process. The intricacies of modern life have prompted the use, or rather abuse of child labour, hence, the need by the ILO and the Labour and Industrial Relations Department, to closely scrutinise this issue. It is our duty as right-thinking, law-abiding citizens to protect and preserve the basic rights of our children, including the prevention of child labour. | [Source:

Community raises K2million for projects

The National, 15 March 2013

After waiting in vain for the government to bring development services to its doorstep, a community in Western Highlands has decided that it would wait no more. The Humul community in lower Nebilyer, through its Tilga Walya Yamb development association, has displayed a rare show of self-reliance by spending more than K2 million over the last three years to generate development. More than 2,000 people in the community are willing to spend more to bring services that would improve their lives by starting other projects. Association project coordinator Adam Aru revealed this during the launching of the community’s rural electrification project recently. This is the latest of a string of self-help projects undertaken by the community that wants to transform its small, under-privileged hamlet from rural to almost modern. Located about 15km from Mt Hagen city, the Humul community has lacked basic services for many decades, prompting the few elites in the area to form the association in 2003.

Silence on HIV concerns Advocate

Post-Courier, 14 March 2013

The silence on HIV is disturbing, a long-time advocate has warned that the virus is spreading fast, but people seemed to have forgotten or do not care. “I feel that information on HIV is dribbling off, it’s only being given out on special days, that’s not the way, we should be taking about it.’’ Tessie Soi, Founder and Executive Director of Friends Foundation Inc, said these words when commenting on how people came forward for Information, Education and Communication (IEC) materials FFI had distributed during the walkathon on Saturday. The hunger for information shown on their faces surprised FFI.

Protection needed in prisons

The National, Monday 18th March, 2013

A report by the institute titled Emerging HIV risk in Papua New Guinea: HIV risk, prevention, treatment and care in closed settings highlighted that unsafe, forced and consensual sex between men and between women and men  in prisons and police cells occurring.
“The greatest risk for HIV in prisons or holding cells is sexual transmission,” principal investigator of the study Dr Angela Kelly said in a statement.
The study found that sex between males was reported in the four provinces’ prisons that were visited despite denial from senior staff and prisoners.
It include long term relationships, sex for goods or as punishment. Sometimes it involved one or more men.
Women on the other hand were safer in prison. But in police cells they faced sexual assault and rape and offers of “snake bail” – sex for bail money, the study found.
“The study recommends that UN agencies in PNG push for open discussion about sexual violence in prisons and holding cells and better security, including separate holding cells guarded by female wardens for female detainees in holding cells.

Mother, baby missing after holdup near Tari

The National, 19th March, 2013

HELA police are searching for a mother and baby who were dragged into the bushes by armed robbers when a bus was held up at Ambua Gap last weekend.
Hela provincial police commander Supt Jimmy Onopia told The National that passengers of a 25-seater bus travelling from Tari to Hagen were robbed before the woman and baby were taken away.
Onopia said the driver of the bus, realising that there was a road block on the national highway, reversed the vehicle some metres and as he swerved it to turn it around, the bus rolled.
He said several of the passengers were injured and they were transported to Tari Hospital for medical attention.
But the mother and the baby are still missing. The robbers who struck at the Ambua Gap also robbed a Dauli Teachers’ College bus loaded with rations and equipment for the college while the principal and his staff watched helplessly.
He said the bus was travelling from Mt Hagen and the teachers from Chimbu and Eastern Highlands were held at gunpoint and their belongings ransacked.
Police in Hela could not respond quickly in such situations and emergencies because they lacked vehicles and fuel, which has hindered operations, Onopia said.
“We only have five donated vehicles left and another five are not in operation.”
The police force in Hela has not been given fuel since November last year but Oil Search Ltd has helped them by supplying 1,500 litres of fuel every month, Onopia said.

Chimbu youths surrender homebrew equipment

The National, 20th March, 2013

YOUTHS in the Sinasina-Yongomugl district voluntarily surrendered two truck-loads of equipment, accumulated over 20 years, used for making homebrew.
Speaking during the surrender at Mok village, which was witnessed by local MP Kerenga Kua, youth leader Gideon Naime told of how they turned to illegal homebrew production on a large scale following the liquor ban in 1993.
“I am the owner of the company which I started in 1993 and successfully managed until I decided to wind up the company today as a sign of respect to our MP,” Naime said.
All the speakers during the surrendering ceremony told of the negative impacts and social problems that had resulted from homebrew drinking in the district for the past 20 years and commended the youths for their decision to quit production, sale and consumption.
Kua praised the youths saying: “Your decision will make a difference in your future. Your sacrifice is a first sign of many good things to come.”

Human exploitation high

The National, Monday 25th March 2013

THE domestic and transnational trafficking of adults and children are occurring at a high rate in PNG for forced labour, sexual exploitation and domestic servitude, according to the International Organisation for Migration. 
IMO chief of mission Giuseppe Crocetti said this last Friday in Port Moresby during the launch of the country’s first report of human trafficking.
Titled Trafficking in Persons and People Smuggling Baseline Data Assessment Report, it establishes a baseline assessment of current trafficking in person’s statistics in the National Capital District, the Autonomous Region of Bougainville, West Sepik and Western.
Crocetti said the report showed that irregular migrants entered PNG assisted by organised crime rings whereas the organiser provided onward travel, employment and accommodation to smuggle persons in PNG.
He added that the logging industry received the highest results by survey respondents as a business sector that exposes persons to risks of trafficking.
“Persons who work in and around market places, bars, restaurants and gaming clubs, were also indicated as being at heightened risk of exposure to trafficking,” Crocetti said.

Disappointment over no SABL report

Post Courier, 27 March

PRIME Minister Peter O’Neill has expressed disappointment over the failure by the Commission of Inquiry (CoI) into Special Agriculture Business Leases (SABLs) to present a final report after more than one-and-a-half years of inquiry that has cost the people of PNG and the State K15 million.
Mr O’Neill said in a statement to Parliament that SABLs existed since 1979, enabling customary landowners to surrender their land and enter into leasing arrangements with the State, basically “unlocking” customary land for development.
“By the 1990s, foreign businesses began acquiring large tracts of land through SABLs and landowners were not receiving any real benefits,” the PM said.
Mr O’Neill said studies have now revealed that more than 5.2 million hectares of customary land have been acquired for commercial use and the amount of customary land has decreased from 97 to 86 percent.
“In most cases, land has been logged and no other economic or agricultural development has occurred,” he said.
PM O’Neill said it was with regret that he had to inform the House that Chief Commissioner John Numapo and Commissioners Nicholas Mirau and Alois Jerewai have failed to provide him a final report. The interim report deals with only three of the 10 terms of reference. SABLs soon.”
Mr O’Neill said despite the slow action of the CoI, his government remains committed to bringing down the final report on SABLs and exposing abuses that have occurred, promising the people of PNG that and people responsible will be exposed.
During debate yesterday, Parliament rejected the interim report and demanded that the final report be presented in the next session in two months time.

Demystifying law enforcement

By Sam Koim  PNG Blogs 22 March. (Sam Koim is the lead investigator of the government-sanctioned Task Force Sweep team)

My role has brought me to confront the mysteries of law enforcement in contemporary Melanesia. I have come to appreciate that we have adopted western laws that are individualist oriented, to be applied and enforced in our communal setting. Our communal existence imposes certain obligations that more often clashes with the demands of the law. For instance, you try to hold one person responsible for his/her own wrongdoings but, more often, you find yourself dragging the whole tribe/group. The society is conditioned to protect even the worst criminal.

In Western cultures, when someone commits a crime, everybody, including their immediate kinship, treat that person as undesirable for the society and readily have him handed over to be dealt with according to law. While in our culture, we are prepared to protect the perpetrators, even to the extent of putting up a fight. Say, in a case of a rape, we put compensation money and hide the perpetrator. If the victim’s people insist to go after the perpetrator, we are prepared to fight. In so doing, we pervert the course of justice. Yet, we complain of lawlessness.

In electing leaders too, we vote according to our tribal/kinship lines even if we know that the person is not the right person. Even Christians pray hard for a right leader and blindly vote the wrong person in. Remember what Jesus said: “Watch and pray, lest you fall into temptation.”

Yet, we complain of corruption. Shame on us. And, to a certain extent, when law is about to catch up with them, there is a general expectation for a level of tolerance by law enforcement agencies. That is because traditionally, we are supposed to respect, protect and be loyal to our leaders even if they do something wrong.

Of course, there are many other factors that contribute towards the breakdown of law and order, such as incidents of bribery and external influences that may temper with objective law enforcement. Those incidents have led our people also to be skeptical about law enforcement, which in turn diminishes the respect and legitimacy of the people it should otherwise deserve.

People are inclined to build nexus to tribalism and rivalism as the first point of reason whenever law is enforced. Notwithstanding all of that, our customary values and expectations also have some influence in law enforcement in Melanesia. While the process of occidentalisation had helped to develop our country in many respects, there is also an obvious disconnection, in that our people had not been fully acculturated to the Western cultural values. Unless we take a paradigm shift, we will still have law and order problems.

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