Social Concerns – July 2019

Jiwaka police gets training to deal with sorcery violence

July 1, 2019 The National

PERPETRATORS of sorcery accusation related violence (SARV) in Jiwaka are increasingly likely to face the law after local police received some intensive training. Thirty-two police officers in Jiwaka were briefed on the latest laws and legal framework regarding SARV crimes at a recent workshop in Minj. Participants took part in discussions and activities on efficient ways to identify and charge alleged perpetrators in sorcery accusation related violence cases.
Constable Alice Bureng, from Banz Police Station, said they attended to SARV cases on a weekly basis. “After attending the workshop, I now understand that it is important to attend to minor complaints of SARV such as calling someone a sanguma (sorcerer) before it escalates into arson or murder,” Bureng said. She added that witnesses in most SARV cases did not give statements or turn up to court in fear of retribution, making prosecution difficult.

Overcrowding cause of outbreak

July 1, 2019 The National

TUBERCULOSIS (TB) is spreading among prisoners in Buimo and it is getting worse because of overcrowding, jail commander Supt Judy Tara says. Tara this said on Thursday in Lae that after the death of an inmate , caused by TB, a few weeks ago. “I am calling on the authorities to allow parole for detainees who are eligible for this release to free up space,” she said.
Buimo prison reduced the number of its inmates by sending some to prisons in other centres last month.

Bishop wants fair deal for customary landowners

July 18, 2019 The National 

A CATHOLIC bishop has called on the Government to tell companies both foreign and local to renegotiate agreements relating to customary land. Archbishop Francesco Panfilo told the annual Singkai Lecture on July 5 at the Bomana Catholic Theological Institute that it must be done to “Take back PNG” which the Government has to do.
Panfilo said most Special Agricultural Business Leases (SABL) were not fair on indigenous owners who had little or nothing to gain despite the use of huge portions of their land and the harvesting of its resources.
He urged the Government to push for renegotiation to ensure:

  • A fair rental payment for the land;
  • fair royalties paid for the export of resources;
  • environmental devastation is addressed;
  • policies are in place to ensure sound environment practices;
  • the respect for sacred sites; and,
  • An appropriate contribution to sustainable community services by the company

Panfilo said Papua New Guineans as Melanesians depended on the land as it was their life.

At least 15 women and children killed in tribal massacre in Papua New Guinea

Joe Chandler

Australian National University anthropologist Dr Chris Ballard, who has spent many years living with and researching the area’s dominant Huli population, agrees with local observations that the massacre falls outside even the eroded rules of tribal warfare. Before European contact, these constraints “managed fighting quite effectively,” he says. “Even in the worst cases of warfare where entire clans were forced off their territory, casualties were pretty minimal and they were almost always fighting men.” Given dense webs of social connection and strict requirements around paying compensation for deaths, random killing were considered “truly dumb”.“Nobody was interested in mass death. The cost of having to fork out pigs for compensation for death placed limits on what people were prepared to even envisage.”

Explosive anger over broken promises

Today locals live in constant fear and Hela is a virtual no-go zone to outsiders despite the fact that the recent atrocities played out barely 30 kilometres, as the helicopter flies, from the fortified compounds that are the heart of the nation’s largest resources project, the $US19 billion Exxon-Mobil led PNGLNG (Liquefied Natural Gas).

There is widespread distress in the highlands over unrealised promises around this enterprise and explosive anger at the failure of royalties to flow to landowners in the gas fields despite five years of operations. The Huli, famous for their elaborate wigs and face paint, are also fearsome fighters. Sharing, caring and loving, says Janet Koriama – just don’t take what is ours.

The maelstrom of the LNG fallout, old enmities, new jealousies, deteriorating basic services and, last year, a devastating 7.5 magnitude earthquake, underwrites a spiralling social emergency in which tribal fighting has razed villages, closed schools, displaced communities and caused an unknown toll of casualties. The old rules constraining warfare have broken down in recent decades, , Ballard says. By 2008 – when the PNGLNG building phase was at its height – Medecins Sans Frontieres installed a surgical team at Tari Hospital because casualties from tribal and family violence were equivalent to a war zone. Janet Koriama says traditional protections for women have eroded notably over the lifetime of the LNG project.

Patients urged to report hospital staff charging fees

July 3, 2019The National

PORT Moresby General Hospital acting chief executive officer Paki Molumi wants the public to report any staff, nurse or doctor who demands fees for services. He said the admission fee for the hospital was K5, surgery K15 and K50 for CT scan. “However, the charges have been waived for children and senior citizens. “Doctors may also use their discretion to waive the charges for those who could not afford to pay,” he said. Molumi said it was illegal for any staff, nurse or doctor to collect fees for hospital services. “Please report immediately any staff who demanded payment so that we can make the system better for our patients,” he said.
Molumi also said a new policy had been implemented for accepting donations to the hospital.
“Food donations are not accepted due to the risk of contamination while donation of clothes and toys will go through the Department of Social Works for distribution.
“However, charitable donations for pharmaceuticals, equipment or infrastructure are most welcome.”

Priest: Better options available than death

July 8, 2019 The National

A CATHOLIC church priest is calling on the Government not to consider death penalty as an option for punishment but to fund rehabilitation programmes to change the people.
Chaplin of Baisu Jail in the Western Highlands Fr Robert Nolie said the Correctional Services was established to rehabilitate offenders and Government should focus on that aspect of the penal system. He said the death penalty was not the solution for penalising law breakers.
Nolie said he supported Prime Minister James Marape for suggesting a way forward for prisoners. Nolie said everyone made mistakes and rehabilitation through the state correctional system as well as faith and social programmes were better alternatives than ending a life.
He said leaders could not impose laws to kill wrong doers but rather help change those who broke the laws. Nolie said he was currently running rehabilitation programmes at Baisu and had seen firsthand the positive impact on a wide range of prisoners including serious offenders.
He said the rehabilitation programmes had prisoners engaged in were piggery, poultry, goat farming, agriculture and now the Baisu Technical Education Vocational Training (Tvet) centre.
“After working with the prisoners for six years I can see that they can change if they are taught to live better lives through the rehabilitation programmes,” he said. “I make prisoners feel at home, after they leave they go as changed person, this is why the Government should consider funding these programmes to help law breakers.”

He said the Catholic church of the Archdiocese of Mt Hagen was willing to work with the Correctional Services department in developing and running rehabilitation and reintegration programmes in jails.

06 July 2019

Part of the solution or part of the problem? Private security in PNG


CANBERRA – In a surprise move, Papua New Guinea’s new prime minister, James Marape, appointed member for Madang Open, Bryan Kramer, as the country’s police minister.

Soon after his appointment Kramer promised to reform PNG’s police force, the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary (RPNGC). The one-time member of the opposition and critic of the O’Neill government has outlined a range of measures, including providing more opportunities for women, addressing corruption and improving discipline. He is also encouraging citizens to report crime and police misdeeds through social media, which has already resulted in an arrest.

While Kramer’s promised reforms are encouraging, improving security in what is often depicted as one of the world’s most dangerous countries will not be easy. PNG’s police force is massively understaffed, poorly resourced, ill-disciplined and heavily factionalised. Even if reform were to improve the state’s police force, PNG’s serious fiscal crisis means that Kramer, and the still-to-be-appointed new police commissioner, will need to look beyond the RPNGC to find answers to PNG’s security problems.

One possible place to start looking will be PNG’s private security industry, which although intersecting with many areas of public policing has been largely ignored in policy and development discussions to date. The private security industry has become the largest provider of security in the country. According to PNG’s Security Industries Authority (SIA), which is the designated regulator under the Security (Protection) Industry Act 2004, the number of licensed companies grew from 173 in 2006 to 464 in 2016, with a total workforce of around 27,709 security guards.These official figures don’t include what are believed to be the much higher number of unlicensed security companies and personnel operating in different parts of the country.

The industry is a major employer, with some claiming that it is now the country’s third largest source of employment. While available figures are rubbery, the SIA estimated the value of the industry in 2016 as between K833 million and K1 billion.

New curriculum brings mixed reaction from officers

July 11, 2019 The National

THERE have been a lot of discussions, including mixed reactions, about the new curriculum citizenship and Christian values education (CCVE) at the senior education officers’ meeting in Eastern Highlands this week. However, most of the participants agreed to the introduction of the new curriculum as a compulsory subject due to moral breakdown in the PNG society.
CCVC has come about because of widespread concern regarding lack of prominence in teaching and learning of CCVE in school curriculums. Acting Education secretary in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville Mary Remi raised an implementing issue on how the department could address teachers with attitude problems to teach Christian values education. Church education representative Michael Ova also agreed and said earlier aspects of confusion of CCVE was cleared during the conference presentation. First assistant secretary curriculum and measurement with the Education Department Annmarie Kona, when updating senior education officers about the curriculum said: “CCVE came about due to evidence in society about the disrespect for law, disrespect and denial of human rights, disrespect of environment, non-appreciation of cultural beliefs and values, growing practices of corruption and total breakdown of civic participation. Kona also shared that Christian religion education that was being taught currently by church representatives was about Christianity, unlike CCVE for which teachers are trained to teach.

Power elites behind brutal Highlands slayings must be targeted 12 July 2019

PORT MORESBY – Sixteen children and women slashed to death by warlords and their tribesmen were laid to rest in Hela yesterday.

And towards the eastern edge of Southern Highlands in the Kagua-Erave area, a massacre said to be much larger continues unabated, perhaps 50-100 victims have lost their lives as warring tribes ransack villages and orchestrate guerilla warfare. With limited reliable reporting, the number of deaths is likely to be much higher. Roads have become dangerous to travel and as a result schools, aid posts and other basic government services have come to a standstill.

With the use of high powered guns and hired hit men, tribal fights are much more deadly than those fought in traditional times. In the Highlands where the payback system and bigman mentality are still dominant, battles among the elites for power quickly spiral into all-out tribal and ethnic war. It gets complicated when political differences and tribal conflicts intertwine. Lurking behind the images of men with guns and piles of bodies is a battle among the elites for power, prestige and wealth. Money and drugs are used to procure high powered guns for the foot soldiers who follow orders from the top. It’s continuing warfare, there’s no sparing the innocent and there’s no contemplation of peace. As aptly described by one observer, the situation in Hela and other parts of the Highlands is not just chaos, it’s organised chaos. The killing of women and children is an emerging trend in tribal warfare and may reflect a change in the rules of engagement. It seems warring tribes are after children, especially male children and their mothers, in the hope of exterminating future threats. However, we all know that will only lead to a vicious cycle of revenge, death and continuing violence in the future.

Churches, community leaders, ward councillors, village court magistrates, tribal leaders and police all have an important role to play in ensuring that peace prevails. The organising elite must be held accountable. They are the ones bankrolling these battles and killings. They are responsible and they must act to stop the slaughter.

 PNG tops Pacific in child abuse

July 31, 2019 The National

PAPUA New Guinea has the highest number of child abuse cases of the estimated 2.8 million children facing violence in the Pacific and Timor-Leste, according to Unseen and Unsafe report.
Save the Children acting head of policy and author of Unseen and Unsafe, Kavitha Suthanthiraraj, says the report reveals the child protection crisis in the Pacific and Timor-Leste and the devastating lifelong impact this has on children. “Violence against children has been ignored and there has been inadequate levels of funds and policy measures to address this epidemic,” she said. “Children who face violence and abuse often suffer from serious physical injuries, unwanted pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections, mental trauma and even death.”
A research, conducted by Save the Children, World Vision, Plan International and ChildFund, demonstrated that in PNG:

  • More than half of all sexual violence cases referred to medical clinics in Port Moresby and Tari were against children;
  • 27 per cent of parents or carers reported beating their children over and over as hard as they could;
  • physical violence against adolescent girls is between 30 per cent and 25 per cent; and,
  • sexual violence against adolescent girls is between 15 per cent and 10 per cent.
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