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.

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