Social Concerns Notes – June 2014

These notes begin with some references to the ongoing political turmoil in Papua New Guinea. They are longer than the usual summaries, but are included here in full, in the hope that they will shed light on the situation.

 

Ribat: PM must clear his name

Post Courier 26 June 2014

PRIME Minister Peter O’Neill and other leaders implicated in the political turmoil have been urged to respect the law and let justice prevail. The call comes from chairman of the PNG Christian Leaders Alliance on HIV/AIDS John Ribat, who is also the Archbishop of Catholic Port Moresby diocese and Deputy chairman of PNG Council of Churches. He said at a press conference yesterday that Mr O’Neill and his government have done well for which the people are happy, but if he does not have his name cleared it will be tarnished despite all the good things he has done.

His call was supported by other church leaders present – Anglican priest and chairman of the PNG Council of Churches Fr Denny Guka; Pr Kaima Sumai from Soul Harvest Fellowship; Pr Daniel Hewali, Deputy chair PNGCCA and Senior Pastor with Agape Interdenomination Ministry; and United Church representative Deacon Charlie Vaieke.

Archbishop Ribat described the current situation as a repeat of the impasse that occurred two years ago. “Our stand is mutual. The highest of the law of the land – the Constitution – must be respected. What is happening is a repetition of the impasse. It is hurting our people.’’ He urged that leaders whether they are in government or churches must be honest because when things are covered up it is “not getting us anywhere, but causing us problems’’. He also questioned the Government’s acquisition of the USB loan and the millions paid to Paraka lawyers which he said must be explained and cleared. He said the people deserve a good government which was starting to come in this government and urged the PM to have his name cleared so that the country will progress further from the achievements made so far. Furthermore, he said, the people had enough and wanted an end to this turmoil. “This is a replay of what happened. We have enough of this. We are also leaders in the church. We try to get our people together in our journey. This is a Christian nation – we’d like to do this in a peaceful journey.’’

In endorsing the statement, Fr Guka said PNG people have the democratic right to express themselves about what is happening but urged that as Christians they must do this in a peaceful manner and follow the means and processes available. “Let’s be truthful, and the truth will get everyone free. PM has to go through the right process and get things right,’’ said Fr Guka. “We want the truth to prevail. We don’t want any dishonesty. We want truth to prevail; the PM and all other MPs implicated must tell the truth.’’ He also urged that all other MPs who are quiet but know what is going on must speak out. Pr Sumai said in support of Archbiship Ribat. “Our voice is straight forward. We stand for the truth,’’ he said, adding the church was the custodian of the Christian values and its prayers are “for the leaders in all levels to respect the Word of God and the values we treasure in our communities’’.

He said sin as in corruption brings a nation down and join the call on the leaders to respect the laws of the country, saying “If you break the law, you must also face it’’.

 

Its time for Papua New Guineans to call an ace an ace and a spade a spade!http://www.pngblogs.com 19 June 2014 by Vergil Narakobi

The call for the resignation by the Prime Minister is a political question, not so much a legal question. The Prime Minister, like any body who goes through the criminal justice system is innocent until proven guilty. Here are some matters the Prime Minister should consider when making that decision.

            Kua was Somare’s lawyer in the misconduct allegations against Somare. They went through the judicial process to challenge the Ombudsman Commission. They failed. But they fronted up at the Leadership Tribunal, went through the process, found guilty by the Tribunal, paid the fine and life goes on. Skate resigned as Prime Minister paving the way for Sir Mekere to come in an atmosphere of serious allegations leveled against him. Julius Chan resigned when public opinion against him was overwhelming in the Sandline Affair. We hold public office as custodians for the people. If they are wrong in their convictions, they stand to suffer. That is the nature of our democracy. We have nothing to lose. Its their office.

            There are important national matters that the Prime Minister must attend to. There are roads to be built, hospitals to maintain, doctors to be trained, borders to be protected, investors to meet and the list goes on. If one is busy fighting a criminal matter, looking over one’s shoulder when the next counter move will be made, attending a Commission of Inquiry, sacking “disobedient” ministers and servants of the state, how can one give their 100% level best to serve the interest of the country? One’s time and attention is divided. One cannot serve two masters. “To be or not to be, that is the question”.

            Whilst one serve office, they enjoy the confidence of the people. If that confidence is no longer apparent in one’s leadership, and we are a democracy, it is an irreconcilable position to be in and one must do the honourable thing and resign. A leaf should be taken out of the dissenting opinion of the member of Leadership Tribunal Sir Robin Auld in the Somare Leadership Tribunal who thought that Somare should be dismissed from office. He said, “what would the reasonable person at Gordon’s market think about it?” What would the ordinary Papua New Guinean think the Prime Minister should do under the present circumstances?

            When the Prime Minister relies on his privilege as a Member of Parliament to avoid a warrant of arrest, it raises the question whether one is using his office for personal gain and therefore misconduct in office under s 27 of the Constitution. Does an ordinary Papua New Guinean have that privilege when they are called into question by the police? When a Commission of Inquiry is set up to exonerate one from a criminal allegation, when the same question can be raised in one’s defence before a court of law, it raises the question of whether the Prime Minister is using his office for personal gain and therefore misconduct in office. How many ordinary Papua New Guineans can set up a Commission of Inquiry when they are called into question by the police. When a Minister of State is decommissioned for dubious reasons, which a reasonable person can infer for not giving concurring advice to avert investigation and arrest, that raises the question of whether one is using one’s office for personal gain and therefore misconduct in office. When a career serving police officer is sidelined for purportedly ordering the arrest of a Police Commissioner whose decisions have been in one’s interest, that raises the question of possible misconduct in office. Again the same can be said for Task Force Sweep.

            Task Force is an administrative arrangement. It is not a statutory body. When the Opposition called for its disbanding, it was ignored. There would have been good legal grounds to disband it. Now that the subject of the investigation is the Prime Minister, it is dismantled. Is that a case of using public office for personal gain? Paul Tienstein obviously would say yes despite his desperate plea that it was “politically motivated”.

            How many inmates in Bomana would also like to have a Commission of Inquiry into their conviction on the basis of that they were wrongfully convicted. A life is a life, no matter who you are. It is a wrong signal to the people of Papua New Guinea that there are two sets of laws.

            There are national security issues at stake here. The longer the matter pro-longs the potential for widespread discontent arises. Stand-off between and among the disciplined officers is a serious threat. Investor confidence will be impaired and the gains from LNG will be lost over night. Its time to make the hard decision for the national interest.

            There appears to be another potential stand-off between the executive and the judiciary. The same question on the legality of the payments to Paraka Lawyers is being determined by the court in his criminal matter. The same question will confront the Prime Minister if he is charged. By setting up a Commission of Inquiry, a quasi-judicial body will deal with the same question. It is questioning the independence of the judiciary. This is not in the national interest.

            If the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea has no faith in the police and the judiciary to determine the truth of the allegations against him, his own people, but choosing instead to rely on a Commission of Inquiry headed by an Australian, are we than a failed state? As the Opposition Leader said, “Prime Minister you are the first man in Papua New Guinea”. If you don’t believe in me, who else will?

            The reason I have made this decision to make this call, is that Sam Koim an ordinary Papua New Guinean has put his hand up for Papua New Guinea, and I would be ashamed to call myself a Papua New Guinean if I did not honour his courage by having something to say. His involvement in the investigation suggests to me that there is no “political motivation”. After all he was appointed by the Prime Minister and has nothing to gain or lose except his reputation.

 

Strong anti-corruption task force vital

http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2014/06/your-opportunity-to-support-the-png-anti-corruption-effort.html#more

Open letter to PM and MPs

Task Force Sweep has been performing a vital anti-corruption role and must not be disbanded or removed. We all know corruption is a curse that has been costing us billions of kina and depriving the government of funds to pay for vital health and education services and national infrastructure.

Numerous Commission of Inquiry and other official investigations have exposed widespread corruption in the Department of Finance, the Department of Lands, the Department of National Planning and many other government institutions. But without an independent, multi-agency body to follow up on these investigations and bring the people responsible before the courts the corruption and the stealing will not only continue, it will get even worse.

While legislation for an Independent Commission Against Corruption has been passed by Parliament, the ICAC has not been given any funding in the budget and is not yet operational. Until the ICAC is fully established it is vital we have an interimbody to investigate corruption cases and prosecute those responsible. Since it was established in 2012, Task Force Sweep has done an excellent job in investigating senior lawyers, public officials and politicians and it has demonstrated to all Papua New Guineans that no one is above the law. If Papua New Guinea is to have any future and any international credibility it is vital Task Force Sweep is NOT disbanded and that Sam Koim and his team are allowed to continue their work.

 

Independence of the ITFS and Some Thoughts on the Way Forward

Vergil Narakobi

The disbanding of the Investigation Task Force Sweep (ITFS) and the subsequent call by the Prime Minister to investigate the conduct of its Chairman Sam Koim (and Hon. Sam Basil), presents the reality of any investigative body and the precarious position it is in when conducting investigations, especially against leaders holding positions of power. It is for this reason that when one looks at investigation bodies like the Ombudsman Commission, one appreciates the independence conferred on it and draw lessons for the future life of the ITFS. Here I try to point out what kind of independence mechanisms an investigative body should have using the example of the Ombudsman Commission. I raise the question whether ITFS should have been thought out a little bit more carefully and put in place more protective arrangement to secure the results of its investigations when it was first set up. This is because so much time, energy and resources were put into it. Furthermore, it is hoped that this piece may enlighten the readership to meaningfully contribute to debate on what kind of anti-corruption bodies should be put in place as a result of our on-going experience so far.

            Firstly ITFS is set up by administrative arrangement. It is not established by law. Three types of laws in PNG are ordinary legislation, an organic law or the Constitution (laws). The difference between these laws are that any changes to them can only be done by Parliament requiring specific majorities. An ordinary legislation requires simple majority whilst for the Constitution and an organic law, a little more. The strongest protection is if it is established under the Constitution. It can only be amended by specific majorities over a specific period of time. If it is an administrative arrangement such as ITFS, it exists at the good pleasure (or whim) of the government of the day. If it was established by law, then it can only be repealed by Parliament, and not by the executive government. Furthermore, even if its is repealed by Parliament, it can be challenged on the basis of its constitutionality in the Supreme Court.This is important. For example Parliament tried to amend the powers of the Ombudsman Commission under the so called Maladina amendments but the Supreme Court refused stating that the amendments were unconstitutional.

            Secondly, once it is established by legislation, what kind of mechanisms should the legislation have in place to protect its independence? Taking the example of the Ombudsman Commission, the Constitution states that in the performance of its functions, it should not be subject to the direction and control of any person. The government of the day cannot dictate to it, what matters it should and should not investigate. It appears that this may be the same protection that is available to the Police. In the Philip Bouraga case the court said clearly that the Police Commissioner is not subject to the direction and control of the executive (NEC) in terms of its functions. No such protection is extended to the ITFS because it is an administrative arrangement. What sort of organisation is ITFS and what are the terms of its operations? It is not clear what is the chain of command in the ITFS?This should be made clear right from the start.

            Thirdly, the protection offered to the head of the organisation. Again using the example of the Ombudsman Commission, an Ombudsman cannot be removed from office, unless a very specific process is followed. The Ombudsman must be given opportunity to present his/her case, which has to be considered carefully, and if the explanation is not sufficient, referred to the appropriate authority to consider prosecuting before a constitutional office holders tribunal. The referred Ombudsman will only be dismissed after the tribunal finds the Ombudsman guilty and recommends dismissal. It is a lengthy process clearly designed to avoid frivolous and vexatious claims against an Ombudsman as a result of reprisal from its investigations. It is a difficulty that any head of an administrative arrangement faces when they don’t have such protection. It is easy for a person whom it is investigating to lay a complaint and investigate the investigator!

            Fourthly, the immunity/privilege conferred on the persons occupying the position. Under the Organic Law on the Ombudsman Commission, an Ombudsman or an officer of the OC is not liable for anything that it does in good faith. It prevents vexatious lawsuits brought against an Ombudsman or an officer for anything it does in the course of duties. Again, since ITFS was an administrative arrangement, it places all those working in that set up in very difficult position. They would have to rely on the general law for the protection of their reputation and investigations.

Fifth, the dismantling of the ITFS pending an investigation. The Constitution prevents Parliament from abolishing the Ombudsman Commission when an investigation is pending. Again this is a special protection offered to the Ombudsman Commission, which is not extended to ITFS as it is not established by the Constitution.

            These are important questions that those who had established the ITFS should have thought out carefully before setting it up. It is an administrative arrangement between various bodies such as the Ombudsman Commissions, the Police and the Attorney-General’s Department. Its demise does not mean that its investigations have ended, because it is a body that facilitates other investigative bodies such as the Police and the Ombudsman. But one important function it seems to have played in this scenario, is to suggest that cooperation among investigative bodies is important, but what kind of legislative protective measures should we offer to such bodies like ITFS if we believe that it is doing an important job in stopping corruption? Obviously having some level of independence is important.

Just to clarify before I conclude. The Ombudsman Commission has no power to charge a person subject to its power for a criminal matter. But it is important to bear in mind that the same facts constituting the alleged criminal matter can be considered as misconduct in office under the Leadership Code. The penalties for breach of the Leadership Code is different to breach of the Criminal Code and does not involve imprisonment. Both process can be run at the same time, but the Leadership Code process ends once a person stops being a leader (ie Member of Parliament).

 

MRDC chief: K240m in oil dividends wasted

Post Courier, 26 May 2014

MORE than K240 million paid as dividends since the first export of oil from Kutubu oil fields has been wasted. Mineral Resource Development Company (MRDC) managing director Augustine Mano revealed this at the opening up of the Petroleum Resource Kutubu(PRK) funded K10 million banking, postal facilities, power facilities in Kikori, Gulf Province on Saturday.

Mr Mano said the first oil export started in 1992 and the first dividends was paid out from 2002 to shareholders. He said a total of K245 million has been paid landowner groups and provincial governments since then with nothing to show on the ground.

 

Paga Hill settlers receive home lots at 6-Mile

The National, 27 May 2014

A PORTION of land at 6-Mile for displaced Paga Hill settlers is ready for use. Dame Carol Kidu, Paga Hill Development Company and displaced settlers yesterday showed media the 14ha  block of land and developments at 6-Mile, which  cost more than K2.5 million.
Company spokesman Gudmundur Fridrikson said the opening of the 6-Mile site marked an important milestone as it demonstrated that the company was serious about its commitment to provide a relocation solution for the Paga Hill settlement community.
“Over the past 12 months, the land purchased by the company in early 2012 had undergone a transformation and now provides a good foundation for a new village,” he said.
“We have undertaken earthworks, carried out civil works and also established reliable connections to water and power supply.
“We have built an ablution block on the site.
“We have also constructed a 55sqm community centre on the site as a result of further consultations with the settlement community.
“We are pleased that we were able to offer employment opportunities for local and Paga Hill settlers at 6-Mile.”
Fridrikson acknowledged the enormous contribution from Dame Carol, which would see about 1,000 settlers move to 6-Mile.
Dame Carol said
“I have a particular interest in this because we need a model for relocation that can work for the long-term benefit of settlers and landowners”.

 

Reforms to end polygamy marriage

The National, 27 May 2014

THE Civil Registry Act amendment tabled in Parliament recently will only allow one-wife and one-husband marriage in 2015, according to the National Civil Registry office.
Registrar-General Dickson Kiragi said the amendment would include other changes to the existing legislation.
Kiragi said it would allow every marriage to be documented. 
“Under the amendment, every customary marriage will be a registered marriage,” Kiragi said.
“By law every marriage must be established within law. So every child that is born within the family is accounted for and issued a birth certificate.”
The birth certificate will identify a person, which includes where the birth occurred and the date of birth.
Kiragi said the amendment would mean the decentralisation of civil registry offices in provinces.
“For instance, Central will have its own civil registry and will be administered by a provincial registrar. I will be delegating certain statutory powers to these registrars.”


 

PNG records 800,000 malaria cases in 2012

The National, 27 May 2014

 MORE than 800,000 malaria cases were confirmed in 2012 in PNG while 94% of the population live in high-transmission areas, an official says.
British MP and global malaria promoter Stephen O’Brien said the country carried “one of the highest burdens in the Pacific region”.
He is the leader of a United Nations delegation on “roll-back malaria partnership” which arrived in the country on Sunday. 
UN official Herve Verhoosel said: “As we enter these last days of UN’s Millennium Development Goals of 2015, and in the face of financial and biological challenges. Verhoosel said there had been an increase in malaria interventions under the Government’s national malaria strategic plan. It has helped achieve a 95% nationwide coverage rate of long-lasting insecticide treated nets and a 35% increase in anti-malaria treatment between 2009 to 2012.

 

Fighting the school fights

(Giorgio Licini

How do we stop school fights in cities like Port Moresby and Lae? The Tokarara suburb in the National Capital District has found its own way. On Tuesday 27 May the first batch of Grade 8 students from the four Primary schools in the area held their joint day of formation on “Building a Culture of Peace, Harmony and Care for our Mother Earth”. They gathered at the convenient venue of Saint John the Apostle Catholic parish, which is also home to one of the four schools. In the next three weeks all the Grade 8 students will go through the program and conclude with a grand ‘Grade 8 Sports Day’ on 26 June. “This is the second year we hold this activity – said Josephine Taiabu Baupua – Principal of Tokarara Primary School. It was first suggested by the local parish priest, Fr Silvestre Saladaga, when school fights erupted in 2012. The community, the four schools and the District Education Board endorsed the activity which we now plan to hold every year.” “The boys come to realize that they are brothers and in recent times we never had any school fight. The Grade 8 students go back to their schools and share their experience and the message of peace with the younger students”, further commented the senior teacher

 

Security upgrade fail on Manus

The National, Wednesday May 28th, 2014

 THE Australian immigration minister has admitted that the Government failed to implement urgent security measures to the Manus island detention camp before the February riots.
Scott Morrision said security firm G4S and his ministry’s liaison officer had warned the Government that the fences needed to be strengthened, CCTV installed and lighting improved. 
“It is my great regret that some of those actions weren’t able to be implemented in time,” he said when releasing an official report into the riots in which an Iranian detainee died and more than 60 other persons were injured.
He said he did authorise the security upgrades in late November but that they were not in place when the riots started on Feb 16.


 

PNG irked by Canberra’s Manus report

Post Courier, 29 May 2014

Papua New Guinea has dismissed the Australian report into the February violence at Canberra’s asylum seeker detention centre on the PNG island of Manus, during which an Iranian man was killed and more than 60 others were injured. The Police Chief of Operations, Deputy Commissioner Simon Kauba, has labeled the findings as a private report that cannot be depended on to prosecute the case, adding it may be a cover-up, if his team cannot verify some of the claims made in the media.

Deputy Commissioner Kauba has also expressed concern at the manner in which PNG police were not able to interview any of the injured asylum seekers. He says police only learnt from media reports that some asylum seekers were secretly flown into Port Moresby and put up at a hotel where doctors visited and treated them. He says PNG police believe that it was the injuries inflicted by four detention workers, two Papua New Guineans and two expatriates, which directly led to the Iranian man’s death.

 

Farm Out Of Poverty: Minister

The National, 26 May 2014

Papua New Guineans must get involved in the agriculture sector to beat poverty and daily struggles, Agriculture Minister Tommy Tomscoll says. Tomscoll said that during a ground breaking ceremony of an electricity project funded by the Coffee Industry Cooperation (CIC) to help Panga villagers,He said people could not earn enough money through employment alone, but could succeed if they used agriculture as a key to a better living. Tomscoll said it was disappointing to see people leaving their villages, adapting to new systems and forgetting about agriculture. “Money is in your land, you have to work hard and that is where you will confirm what I’m saying here. “Nowadays, our young people are leaving their villages and going to towns and cities to look for money,” Tomscoll said. He said the people at Panga were lucky because they had a strong tie with the cooperation in terms of coffee farming.

 

Dozens killed in Wabag fights

The National, 6 June 2014

 FORTY-FOUR people were killed and properties worth hundreds of thousands of kina were torched and destroyed in five separate tribal clashes in Wabag district over the last six months, Enga police has reported. 
This was bad for the government trying to deliver service to the people, provincial police commander Enga, Acting Supt George Kakas said yesterday.
He said all other districts of Enga remained “quiet and peaceful” except Wabag, adding that luckily there were no public assets such as schools and aid posts in the high risk areas.
The fights in Wabag were centred at Nandi (election related, 15 deaths), Sopas (21) ,Aipus (where a policeman was killed and related fighting, 3), Kamas and Teremanda (relating to killing of Kopen Secondary school principal, 3), and Yakananda (2), a total of 44 deaths in the last six months. Kakas praised people involved in bringing two people involved in the Aipus conflict to surrender to police.
He said the two men charged and appeared before the Wabag district court yesterday.
 

 

Man On A Mission To Warn Locals On Effects Of Industry |

The National, 28 May 2014

An awareness campaign has been carried out on the environment and what can be done to sustain it for future generations, considering the effects of mining, petroleum, oil and gas exploration in Papua New Guinea. To ensure the message gets to the people in the rural areas, Southern Highlands man Matthew Karu has started his campaign targeting schools, women’s groups and churches. After living for 20 years in Western, Karu has seen the plight of the people along the rivers affected by the activities of the Ok Tedi Mine in Star Mountains. He has realised that there is little done to educate people about the environment and how beneficial it is to them. Karu has formed an organisation called the Mawa Land and Resource Organisation to create awareness about sustaining the environment. The group started its awareness campaigns in Hela, Madang and Central because of the current mining, petroleum, oil and gas exploration activities happening in those provinces. He said it was an “eye opener” to see people in rural villages suffering from the effects of the mine because they knew little and nothing about the consequences they would have on their environment and lives. “For them, it was about getting cash handouts. But it opened my eyes to see what was happening and it motivated me to make an effort to save the environment,” he said. “The world is centred around wisdom. You see Moses did not go to school but he had wisdom and God used him to drive his people out of Egypt to the land of Canaan (the Promise Land),” Karu said. “If we have wisdom, it will help to save the environment for the future generation. If you cut one tree down, plant five new ones … out of  five, maybe three will grow and two will die or two will grow and three will die.”

 

Soldiers rescue women

Post Courier, 3 June 2014

Two women were tortured and nearly killed after being accused of sorcery in Porgera last week but were rescued by Defence Force soldiers. The women from Paiala village were accused of practising sorcery by relatives of a young girl who suddenly became mentally ill at Aumbi village next to the mine. Relatives rounded-up the two women and tortured them inside a house. Soldiers from Moem Barracks Delta Company were informed by relatives of the two women. The soldiers reacted quickly and went into the area and prevented what could have turned out to be mob killing of the two women. The young girl, who is a student attending Paiam High School, felt unconscious and went into a coma earlier that day. She recovered from her coma but became mentally affected. In her unstable state of mind the girl mentioned that two women from Paiala village killed her spiritually by removing her heart and sharing it. This prompted her angry relatives to apprehend the two women. The two women were tortured with hot metal rods in order to obtain a confession. The young girl was brought to a creek next to her house and prayed upon but she was not cured.

 

Sorcery related violence meeting

Post Courier, 13 June 2014

PAPUA New Guinea has a lot of work to do in addressing sorcery related violence. A two day meeting is currently taking place in Port Moresby to work towards strategies or approaches for implementing what is called a national draft action plan on sorcery and witchcraft accusation related violence. The plan is the end result of two past meetings on the issue.

Yesterday, the Deputy Secretary for Department of Justice and Attorney-General Jack Kariko addressed participants saying that solutions need to be found to address sorcery related violence.

Mr Kariko said: “The end result of the meeting should form the basis of policy and legislative reform that we hope will alleviate the pressures of the issue of sorcery. “The Department of Justice and Attorney-General and certainly the government stands ready to receive whatever recommendations to consider and endorse so that the issue is addressed to a manageable level and our communities and the larger society are appreciative to the negative effects and have a positive change in attitude,” Mr Kariko said. Ume Wainetti of the Consultative Implementation Monitoring Council pointed out some challenges that need to be recognised when putting together the action plan. These are professional training for service providers, cost effect strategies to address these issues that include cultural issues and dealing with one’s beliefs as advocators. Church representatives also raised serious questions.

 

El Nino effect to be seen by August

The National, 6 June 2014

El Nino is more than likely to be established in August, changing the rainfall patterns and resulting in severe dry weather conditions in the country, says the National Weather Service.
Assistant director of the service Kasis Inape warned “Be kindly reminded that we are still in the El Nino alert phase and you all should take necessary precautions appropriate for your respective settings,” Inape said.
“For PNG, El Nino is often associated with below-average rainfall over the southern and eastern coast of the country, West Sepik and parts of the Highlands region.” “New Guinea Islands tend to have mixed weather with the exception of West New Britain, which experiences wetter conditions during El Nino.”
General warnings have come from the power and water authorities in Port Moresby, with water level at the Sirinimu Dam well below average for this time of the year following low rainfall. 


 

Female victim raped again by ‘rescuers’

The National, 6 June 2014

A GIRL being raped by some thugs thought that a group of men who turned up would save her.
Instead, when the group of rapists fled, her “rescuers” also assaulted her.
The incident occurred at Papuan Compound in Lae on Monday.
The traumatised girl, aged between 16 and 18, was sent to hospital for treatment.
She was at her home when a group of men armed with knives, broke in at about 4pm, The men took her to a spot and took turns to rape the girl. When a second group turned up, her attackers ran off but she was repeatedly raped again.
Meanwhile, a police sergeant has been charged with raping a 16-year-old while two police personnel are accused of violence against women.
The sergeant, who is from Manus, is alleged to have raped the girl from Naparpar II village in Kokopo.
His appeal for bail was rejected by the court on Friday.
Supt Lakatani said a constable was charged with beating a woman who was either his wife or fiancée.
He was released on K100 bail.
“Earlier (on Monday), the court convicted another officer for violence against his wife,” he said and added that disciplinary action would also be taken against the offender.
Lakatani said the words “disciplinary force” indicated the obligations, responsibilities and code of conduct expected of police personnel.
He said there would be “zero tolerance” of officers who could not maintain discipline.
This also applies to public. Police will arrest men who commit violence against women.”

 

Refugee homes sought

The National, 10 June 2014

THE resettlement arrangements of asylum seekers at Manus are underway, Australia Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Scott Morrison said.
“The fact that we now have had over 40 refugee status determination recommendations made is a great credit to the work of those who are doing the processing. A much greater number who have had their interviews – over 800 initial interviews – have been undertaken.”
Speaking during an Australia-PNG ministerial conference in Port Moresby last Friday, Morrison said: 
“This is an arrangement that has been put in place by Papua New Guinea, with the support of Australia, and so I have got nothing other than to give high praise to the work of Papua New Guinea in the way they have worked together with us on this.”
Meanwhile, Foreign Affairs and Immigration Minister RimbinkPato said it was PNG’s choice to assist in the global issue of transnational crimes to have the centre established on Manus. “This is not about Australia but Papua New Guinea exercising regional leadership on a global issue and a regional issue in relation to transnational crimes as they arise from human trafficking, people smuggling, which is a concern of the world. 

 

Repatriation saves lives

The National, 10 June 2014

OXFAM says it has saved two lives a week on average since it began repatriation of victims in Oct last year as part of its project to address violence relating to sorcery killing.
Oxfam associate country director Philippe Allen said it costs on average K600 to rescue and repatriate a victim of violence to a safe location and a further K750 for the victims of violence to start a new life.
Oxfam and its partner organisations are piloting a project to address violence relating to sorcery killing as sorcery-related killing is seen as a challenging form of violence, Allen said.
They were carrying out research to find the best way to address violence related to sorcery to provide hope for victims whose lives were in danger.
He said for the past nine months, Oxfam and its partners had been evacuating people from the highlands who faced life threatening danger.
“Many of these cases involve women and children who have suffered years of sexual abuse and other forms of physical violence,” he said. 
“For these people, the only hope of 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 people accused are not evacuated immediately, they could be murdered within days.” 


 

PNG yellow carded by Europe over fish

Post Courier, 11 June 2014

Papua New Guinea is a step closer to a ban on its fish exports to Europe. The European Commission has given Papua New Guinea and the Philippines a “yellow card” or stern warning because they cannot guarantee their catch has been caught legally. The Euopean Commissioner for Fisheries and Maritime Affairs, Maria Damanaki, has urged PNG and the Philippines to take action so the second step of an outirght ban is not necessary. “We have been talking to the Philippines and Papua New Guinea for almost two years. We are convinced that these two countries exercise no real control on what goes on in their waters and also on their ships. So they cannot guarantee their fish is caught respecting local and international rules.” The commission says most of those countries are making progress but Guinea, Belize and Cambodia were banned from trading fish into the EU in March this year.

 

Govt okays minimum wages

Post Courier, 19 June 2014

THE Government has endorsed an increase of K3.20 per hour in minimum wages for workers throughout the country. Prime Minister Peter O’Neill announced the National Executive Council decision yesterday, that cabinet has approved Minimum Wage Board Determination of K3.20 from the previous K2.29 per hour. The news was welcomed by the PNG Trade Union Congress (PNGTUC) on behalf of more than 70 000 minimum wage workers throughout the country. “In terms of wages in PNG , this has to be one of the sweetest achievement of my entire career in the union movement as I’m sure it is for minimum wage earners and workers,” PNGTUC General Secretary John Paska said yesterday.

 

Govt cancels SABLs

Post Courier, 19 June 2014

THE Government has cancelled all Special Agriculture and Business Leases (SABLs) obtained illegally, and will abolish provisions of the Land Act which allows for SABLs to be granted.

Prime Minister Peter O’Neill announced the National Executive Decision yesterday, said that about 77 SABL’s in total as recommended in the Commission of Inquiry report are to be revoked. He said the government move is not to block genuine investments in the country but forge right partnerships between the investors, government and landowners. “We are taking these steps to reclaim our customary land illegally lost to foreigners with the help of corrupt public servants and leaders,”

The canceling of SABLs and repealing of the Land Act are part of a number of decisive steps which Cabinet approved this week to be taken to implement the recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry into the SABLs. “As a responsible government we want to ensure that all citizens have access to the lands of their ancestors. We will not allow our land to be lost to unscrupulous people out to con our people,” the Prime Minister said.

 

Villagers dying from diseases

The National, 20 June 2014

A FEMALE community health worker is serving 28,000 people of Ambunti district, East Sepik.
Bridget Hapiau is the only health worker left in Ambunti Health Centre after her male colleague Benny Makuai, a nurse, left for medical reasons last year.
Akamba Yantaka, one of the few elites from the Tongunjamb village in the Ambunti local level government, told The National yesterday after returning from his village that people were dying each week from preventable diseases like malaria and typhoid and snake bites.
“Hapiau is the only health worker from my village working in Ambunti station with assistance from three volunteers who are not trained in any medical school to but handle medical drugs,” he said.
He said that thousands of people living in the Tunap local level government near Fredda gold mine turned to bush and herbal medicines because it took them seven hours by boat to reach Ambunti or 10 hours to reach Pagwi waterfront and another three hours by PMV to the Wewak General Hospital to seek medication.
He said they paid K400 for one way from Ambunti station to Wewak by plane.
There is no road connection to Ambunti, it’s only accessible by river and air transport, Yantaka said.
Drekikier sub-district has its own health centre and aid posts and serves its people.
He said that in the past, the Ambunticentre had at least 10 health workers but they left one by one until last year.

 

Number of doctors in villages declines

The National, 23 June 2014

There has been a dramatic drop in the number of doctors serving in rural areasand with it services, Dr David Mills said.
Mills, the president of the PNG Society of Rural and Remote Health, said many doctors were now working in urban settings, either in government hospitals or private practice.
He said the church health sector had traditionally provided services to more rural populations but working with churches was less preferred by many doctors.
“The majority of the districts has no fulltime medical staff, andcurative health services are provided by the community health worker, nursing officers and some clinical health extension officers where they are present,” Mills said.


 

Heart surgery project saves 800 lives

The National, 23 June 2014

THE Operation Open Heart programme has saved more than 800 lives since it began 21 years ago, according to Kathy Johnston, deputy chairperson of the Port Moresby General Hospital board.
Johnston, who is responsible for organising and raising funds for the programme, said it operated on about 50 patients each year over a five-day period. The operations performed are close-open heart surgery, valve replacement, hole in the heart and insertion of pace-makers.
The surgeries are performed at the Port Moresby General Hospital.
Johnston thanked donors for funding the programme, enabling the purchasing of equipment and the training of doctors and nurses.
Johnston said the programme worked with the Sir Buri Kidu Heart Institute. The programme has been hailed as one of the most successful in the Pacific.

Film project documents role of women as leaders

The National, 23 June 2014

A FILM project aimed at promoting women in leadership roles in the country will be launching six documentary films.
The Pawa Meri project is co-funded by the Australian and PNG governments. It will be launched at the University of Goroka on June 23 and in Port Moresby three days later.
The films feature important events in the lives of successful women leaders in the country.
A director of the documentaries, Joy Eggins, said the women featured in the films include Susil Nelson, Gina Baidam, Sister Lorraine Garrasu, Rita Kare, Mirriam Potopi and Jenniffer Baing Waiko.
“The six in the films are very strong women who have stood against the odds to contribute effectively and positively in their communities and areas of influence,” Eggins said. 
“They have unique and encouraging stories and young people can look to them as role models.”


 

Catholic Procession On Water Draws Attention To Climate Change

EMTV on Monday, 23 June 2014. Posted in News

More than 300 Catholics from Madang’s Riwo Parish celebrated the feast of the Corpus Christi, by drawing attention to challenges they face with climate change with 3 hour procession in the sea. 

Boats and canoes of various sizes made the trip from the Riwo Catholic Church to three altars set up on the reefs. In the last five years, the Riwo community and those on surrounding islands, have become acutely aware of the effects of climate change. The parishioners departed from the edge of a sea wall built to keep the sea from washing away their church. On the altars, they offered thanks for the sea’s bounty, and asked for blessings on the land and sea. In Madang, the sea has been both friend and foe. Generations have been nourished by an element of nature that is now cutting islands in half, leaving people with little option but to move elsewhere. As prayers were offered, new challenges have come to the fore. Land shortages and pressures on food security are realities the communities will have to face in future, as the sea continues its onslaught.

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