Social Concerns Notes – June 2018

Food shortage a worry in jail
May 30, 2018 The National
WARDERS at Wewak’s Boram Prison in East Sepik had to release 35 prisoners on Sunday to go and look for food to feed themselves because of the shortage at the facility. Prison administration manager Inspector Joe Imini told The National that they had been facing food shortage for almost two months at the facility which holds 290 inmates, mostly detainees awaiting court cases.
He blamed the problem on the delay in the release of funds each month from the Correctional Services headquarters in Port Moresby to pay for food rations. Of the 35 convicted prisoners sent out on Sunday, only one, a juvenile, is yet to return. Imini said the officers and their families were also helping provide food for the prisoners but it was too much for them.
“On average, we get K56,000 to K60,000 per month. But for April, we got K24,000. “Given the size of our population, that is not enough. We are consuming monthly. Payment is not forthcoming. We are living on credit.” On why they had to release the convicted prisoners on Sunday, Imini said it was a desperate situation.

‘Unrecognised crisis’: right next door, women in serious danger
31 May 2018
Australia’s near-neighbour Papua New Guinea is one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a mother and there are signs the country’s health crisis is getting worse, a report has found. Women in PNG are 35 times more likely to die during pregnancy than women in Australia, according to an evaluation of maternal health by the aid agency ChildFund Australia. Despite laws and programs to encourage supervised births, only 40% of women in PNG gave birth at a health facility with a specialised birth attendant in 2016 down from 44% in 2012. In some regions the share was just 21%. And when women do manage to reach a rural clinic for the birth of a child they often find these facilities unstaffed or without electricity, running water, or essential medication and equipment.
“PNG is a dangerous place for pregnant women and their newborns, not only because of widespread poverty but because of the extremely high incidence of domestic violence,” it said.
“No woman should die giving birth. Yet in a country just 160 kilometres north of Australia, women are losing their lives every day during childbirth due to unsafe conditions and causes that are completely preventable.”
ChildFund’s report, called ‘National Health Crisis: Maternal Deaths in Papua New Guinea’, says the lifetime risk of dying during childbirth is 1 in 120 in PNG compared to 1 in 8,700 in Australia. Also, a newborn in PNG is 10 times more likely to die in the first month of life than an Australian newborn.

PNG ripe for human traficking activities
June 1, 2018 The National
Papua New Guinea is a strategic spot to facilitate international human trafficking of women and children for prostitution and child labour, says Chief Justice Sir Salamo Injia. Sir Salamo, when opening a two-day workshop on how to combat human trafficking in PNG, said that the courts had dealt with some cases. He said PNG was ripe for international human trafficking due to its rugged terrain, vast sea, isolated islands, large population and multi-cultural groupings. “Human trafficking of vulnerable persons for the purpose of exploitation, especially women, girls and children is a horrible crime,” Sir Salamo said. “It is a crime against humanity that knows no territorial borders, whether international or national crime.”

Where were leaders at time of crisis?. (Letters Post Courier 4 June 18)
There is trouble brewing in the western end of the Highlands region. People are being killed like animals in public places. These brutal murders are happening in front of law enforcing agencies and the general public. The use of high powered weapons is dangerously rampant. Police officers have been killed. Soldiers are being shot at. The last line of defence – the PNG army – is brought in to perform the duties of a sloppy and scared police force. Police and criminals are eyeing each other as rival enemies and not law enforcer and offender.
Wabag and Laiagap districts have been declared fighting zones by the PEC. This is the prelude. Total anarchy is creeping into the whole western end. The national Government needs to take this ‘time bomb’ very seriously. Waigani should stop talking about LNG revenue and come home to earth and absorb the realities on the ground and act swiftly or there won’t be any LNG to discuss revenue day in day out. The post-election mayhem in Mendi was fixed by PPC Joseph Tondop and acting PA Thomas Eluh. No politician, including William Powi showed his face in Mendi to solve the chaos he created. Eluh has been replaced through political cronyism. They never learn. People are watching patiently. Mendi will explode. We started exporting LNG in 2014. The revenues are sinking into a hole the government created. PNG has borrowed more to stabilise a falling economy created by the LNG construction phase.
Tuman Kanam Kange

Disgruntled service providers keep flight grounded by parking truck on tarmac
Post Courier, June 5, 2018
DISGRUNTLED service providers in Bougainville yesterday forced the closure of the Buka airport when they barred their President John Momis from boarding an aircraft for Port Moresby.
Air Niugini’s PX253 on which an official ABG delegation and him were supposed to travel for a three-day referendum seminar in Port Moresby was diverted instead to Tokua Airport in East New Britain.
The service providers fronted up at the airport where they demanded an answer from Mr Momis on their outstanding payments. Airport officials fearing for the safety of passengers and the Air Niugini aircraft diverted it and did not allow any other flights into Buka during the day due to the tense situation. Former combatant leader Ishmael Toroama, who turned up at the airport, expressed his disappointment at the service providers saying such issues must be dealt with in the proper manner and there should be respect shown to the ABG.At the B uka airport the terminal was packed with service providers who arrived in a truck and parked on the tarmac. Police later removed the truck when they moved in to take control of the situation.

Weapons Disposal Issues Confronting Bougainville
Post Courier, June 6, 2018
THE non-disposal of all weapons on Bougainville may be the only major obstacle in the 2019 Bougainville referendum. This means if all weapons are not completely destroyed or accounted for, which allegedly poses a threat, the referendum will not go ahead. This was highlighted during the Bougainville referendum three-day conference in Port Moresby yesterday.
Concerns were raised by ordinary Bougainvilleans, stakeholders and others about the slowness of disposing weapons on the island. It was also queried that there is no specific database of weapons still on Bougainville. The conference was told by a Bougainvillean training youths on security Albert Magoi that there were seven factions to be dealt with in order for the vote to take place in 12 months time. He talked about the issue of Me’ekamui, who’s now split in four and Tonu’s Noah Musingku group. There are also those ordinary people that still kept their weapons at large.
Independent Bougainville woman leader Helen Yonny also questioned both governments what would happen if guns took precedence and used at the voting time and what the ABG was doing about the Me’ekamui and the self styled King of Papala.
But ABG’s weapons boss Dennis Kuiai assured the conference that all was under control, that they were finalising the database of all weapons still floating on Bougainville.

Medical Supplies Stranded due to no logistical funds.
Post Courier, June 7, 2018
The provincial health authority is worried about delays in medical supplies reaching some rural aid posts and health centres in Morobe Province. The delays are mainly due to the logistics contractor not receiving funding from the Department of Health on time. Health officers said the contractor, Global Customs and Forwarding Limited, was allegedly not doing a good job in distributing medical supplies and in some instance, had delivered to wrong health facilities. As a result of the delays, four districts were now facing a critical shortage of drugs and other medical consumables.
He said that during a recent malaria outbreak in the Garaina area of Wau-Bulolo district, there were no medicines to treat the sick.He said in this case the outbreak which could have been treated and controlled at an early stage affected more than 169 people.

Financial Crisis In PNG Leaves Ammunition Stockpile Sitting Unclaimed In Geelong Region
was sent to Australia to protect world leaders including US President Donald Trump, is sitting unclaimed in a Geelong region warehouse because the Papua New Guinea Government can’t pay for it. The huge ammunition order, which required US State Department approval to send to Australia for forwarding to PNG was, according to exporters, made specifically to arm officially designated police and security forces preparing for the APEC leaders’ forum in Port Moresby later this year. 
But for more than eight months it has sat abandoned in an undisclosed secure warehouse believed to be in the Geelong region, with a cash-strapped PNG Government unable to pay for it.
The stockpile includes 250,000 .9mm pistol bullets, 200,000 rounds of 5.56mm assault rifle ammunition and 20,000 40mm rounds. The order from America’s Winchester Ammunition Inc. was worth about $800,000 (US$621,000), with the purchase order signed in February 17 last year by PNG’s Police Commissioner Gari Baki. Winchester confirmed a consignment of 200,000 Australian-made shotgun shells had been shipped to PNG police in October last year, but the bulk of the order was being stored outside Melbourne.

Poor policy choices & budgets based on hope curse PNG
Post Courier, 07 June 2018
CANBERRA – The Papua New Guinea liquefied natural gas project is having a very negative impact on the PNG economy during the current production phase that began in 2014 and is expected to end around 2035. The most likely explanation for this outcome is the “resource curse.” The resource curse phenomenon occurs where countries like PNG with plentiful natural resources frequently have less economic growth, less democracy and worse development outcomes than countries not so blessed. The negative impacts of PNG LNG are expected to continue to grow and by 2020 will swamp the initial boost to GDP provided by the early gas exports after 2014. The project had a positive impact on the non-resource economy in the construction phase (2010-14) – slightly greater than the level of 5% predicted by project partners. The boost to the LNG sector was almost exactly as expected. In 2016, its direct impact on GDP was a gain of some 14.4% – more than offsetting falls in the mining sector overall. … The easy path for hitting a big overall GDP figure by 2024 is to focus on more big resource projects – the potential resource “super-cycle”. But a more sustainable and inclusive way forward is to focus policy attention on the non-resource parts of the economy like agriculture and tourism. This is harder and more indirect but a much better option than the current boom-bust experiences of PNG’s resource curse. New resource projects should be promoted if they sustainably increase PNG’s non-resource potential. If the benefits mainly go overseas, then other options should be actively explored.

ADB grants K635 million loan to support PNG health programs
09 June 2018
MANILA – The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a loan of K635 million to support the delivery of accessible, affordable and high quality health services in Papua New Guinea.The financing package comprises two regular loans and a concessional loan to help PNG’s efforts in achieving universal health coverage. Despite a period of high economic growth in recent years, averaging 6% from 2006-15 but declining in recent years, the ADB said PNG failed to achieve its millennium development targets for maternal and child health. Life expectancy is low at 65 years and diseases including stroke, heart disease, pneumonia and neonatal conditions are chronic. Yesterday PNG Attitude reported UNICEF as saying that malnutrition is the leading cause of deaths among children under the age of five and that 45% of PNG children have stunted growth while 24% are underweight and 14% suffer from moderate to severe forms of wasting, which can be potentially life threatening.
The ADB said limited investment in the country’s health infrastructure and poor health sector governance are undermining service delivery.
See also: Malnutrition – the silent killer stalking PNG’s provinces 8 June 2018

Independence from PNG: A core belief for many Bougainvilleans
11 June 2018
Extract from a talk by Anthony Regan to last week’s Bougainville referendum conference in Port Moresby. You can read here the full Bougainville News coverage of the conference
PORT MORESBY – The impacts of the Bougainville conflict were severe. Varying estimates of the numbers of conflict-related deaths have been made from 3,000 up to 20,000. When it is realised that Bougainville’s population immediately before the conflict was about 150,000, and that 10,000 to 15,000 left Bougainville as a result of the conflict during 1989 and the first half of 1990, then even 3,000 deaths was an appalling outcome. The deaths include perhaps 1,000 or more from conflict, inclusive of both Bougainvilleans and several hundred PNGDF and RPNGC personnel.
In addition, there were many extra-judicial killings by all groups involved in the conflict, as well as unknown numbers caused or contributed to by the Papua New Guinea blockade of Bougainville Revolutionary Army (BRA)-controlled areas. These deaths, and the many more injuries that occurred, caused grave trauma for Bougainville and also for the rest of PNG. Another source of grave trauma for Bougainville was the displacement of 60,000 people from their hamlets and villages to displaced persons camps, called care centres. Trauma in Bougainville was also caused by the deep divisions amongst Bougainvillean communities caused by the conflict.
Other impacts included destruction of virtually all public infrastructure and private sector productive assets, and destruction of the capacity of Bougainville’s provincial government (which was suspended in June 1995) and of the national government agencies previously operating in Bougainville. For PNG, the deaths and injuries suffered by many PNGDF and PNGRC personnel was a source of grave trauma, and contributed to significant loss of morale in both organisations.
The extent of the divisions amongst Bougainvilleans was manifested in the establishment of opposing government structures, inclusive of a Bougainville Interim Government (BIG) associated with the BRA, and from early 1995 the Bougainville Transitional Government (BTG), which was quite closely associated with the Bougainville Resistance Force (BRF), which had a nominated member to represent it in the government. Amongst the BRA personnel and the extensive support base it enjoyed in many Bougainvillean communities, PNG was seen as at fault in the events involved in the origins of the conflict, and in particular in relation to the indiscriminate violence wrought initially by the police mobile squads, and later by the PNGDF. Many felt deep bitterness towards the PNG state.
As a result, the cause of independence from PNG became a deeply held core belief for many Bougainvilleans, and for many those views remain little changed by the almost 17 years that have elapsed since the Bougainville Peace Agreement was signed. ….

Understanding corruption, and knowing how to deal with it
15 June 2018 By Sam Koim.
PORT MORESBY – Corruption, being a very destructive societal disease, is like a cancer that eats at every fabric of society. It comes in various types and stages ranging from low-level petty corruption to high-level grand corruption. There is no single treatment for this pernicious disease, and literature shows that the best way to combat it is the application of a combination of approaches towards the same goal. To treat this societal illness, a careful diagnosis must first be undertaken. The process will determine the type of the disease and the stage to which it has spread within society. Corruption is like a multifaceted octopus that rears its ugly image in all the facets of society.
It is organised crime. Corrupt transactions can transcend territorial jurisdictions and span many different countries. They are orchestrated by very skilful people with the institutional knowledge to bypass detection.
High-level corrupt transactions are usually secretive and organised by people who have the requisite knowledge of the victim industry or agency. They therefore require skilful corruption investigators to detect. Detection may also require whistle blowers to come forward and provide relevant inside information. This may require the protection of these informants. In some cases, it might require a party to the illicit transaction to come forward in return for some form of leniency. Corruption investigators have to be vigilant and adept at investigating it.
A single corrupt transaction may pollute an entire government agency. Top-level corruption may involve a patronage arrangement. For instance, if a minister intends to defraud his department, he directs the departmental head, who in turn directs his deputy and the pressure is exerted downwards through the subordinates until the cheque is paid out.
Those lower ranking officials who execute the payment may not directly benefit from the improper payment but succumb to top-down pressure in fear of reprisals.
Proceeds of corruption may be laundered through a number of countries in a single day. In today’s technological world, conducting illicit financial transactions spanning a number of countries is possible. This is posing a formidable technical and organisational challenge when it comes to detecting and monitoring these transactions. It requires the cooperation of the victim country as well as those countries tainted by the illicit transfers.
Some forms of corruption may flourish because the society as a whole tolerates it. For instance, the line between bribery and customary appreciations in Melanesian culture is often difficult to ascertain in terms of what is a bribe and what is customary reciprocal expectation. Widespread corruption is a symptom that the state is functioning poorly. It may reflect the health of the nation’s politics. …Experts warn us that corruption becomes a major challenge if most of the key institutions of government are weak. Anti-corruption efforts will not be effective in circumstances where essentially every important institution is compromised. …

Tribal fighters turn traditional rules of warfare into modern law . 15 June 2018
MT HAGEN – Some 34 councillors of the Nebilyer Local Level Government in the Western Highlands Province have agreed to respect and implement traditional rules of fighting to minimise consequences of warfare on people and property. “The rules are neither new nor borrowed but are the ones used in the past by our forefathers when engaging in any tribal fight,” said Gabriel Kiap, chairman of Western Highlands provincial law and order. Kiap, once a tribal leader involved in fighting during his younger days, said people engaged in conflict did not respect the rules and would not hesitate to destroy whatever came in their way. “Innocent lives are being lost” he said.
“But now the rules are clear. Civilians, especially the elderly, women, children and people with disability can’t be targeted. Women and children must not be sexually abused and healthcare providers need to be respected at all times,” he said. In addition, Kiap said the rules prohibit destruction of public property such as schools, health facilities, roads, bridges, electricity poles and religious places and discourage targeting of neutral tribes and clans…..
The Red Cross head of office in Mt Hagen, Kakhaber Khasaia, said over the past few decades, tribal fighting has become significantly more destructive due to the use of semi-automatic weapons and breakdown in traditional methods of fighting. Nebilyer is the first local government in the Highlands to make traditional rules of fighting a local law. Similar activity will follow in other districts in the Western Highlands Province. The Red Cross is also working on different stages of the same project in the Southern Highlands, Hela and Enga provinces.

Religious education to be taught in schools
June 14, 2018 The National
EDUCATION Secretary Dr Uke Kombra announced the inclusion of religious education in mainstream curriculum as one of the compulsory subjects from elementary to secondary schools. He said this during a Church-State Partnership Development Forum in Port Moresby yesterday. He said religious education would fall under the education mainstream curriculum as ‘Citizenship and Christian Values Education’. The subject is intended to be taught in all schools about human ethics and Christian principles to students in schools. Kombra said the department had been working in many education reforms under the standard based education since 2013. One of them was the reform of the curriculum itself, others were school structure, looking at the levels of schools, education system, and the professional development of teachers, staffing systems, and school governance system.

High rate of mouth cancer in PNG
June 18, 2018 The National
Papua New Guinea has the world’s highest rate of mouth cancer cases which contributes to 25 per cent of all cancer disease compared with two per cent in Australia, according to research by the Australian National University (ANU). ANU’s Dr Barry Reed said the three main causes of the disease were betel nut-chewing, smoking and heavy alcohol consumption. It has now become a common disease among young people in PNG, with women having the highest rate of cancer in the world.
If untreated, it lead to death with much pain, suffering, social isolation, loss of functions and facial deformation, Reed said. Reed said medical doctor Chris Acott stated during last year’s health symposium that if treatment was not prioritised sooner, the disease alone could consume all of the national health budget in a few years.

PLHIV in PNG is Now Estimated to be about 70,000 : Igat hope
Post Courier, June 21, 2018
People Living with HIV in Papua New Guinea are now estimated to be about 70,000, according to Igat Hope. Board president of Igat Hope and person living with HIV (PLHIV) Janet Sangopa said that not all of these people know their HIV status and not all of them understand their illness and how to manage it. “This is something we need to urgently address. “We would like to be involved in community-level HIV counselling and testing to improve knowledge of HIV status; using some of the strategies used in the recent HIV integrated bio behavioural surveillance study to reach people who have not yet been reached. “Igat Hope wants to continue and strengthen its role in helping to improve the quality of clinical care as too many of our friends are still dying,” she said.

Ambulance attacked
June 25, 2018 The National
AN ambulance team from St Johns standing by for the Trukai Fun Run in Port Moresby yesterday was attacked by rascals. Chief officer Matt Cannon said the rascals were trying to steal ambulance equipment, including a defibrillator. “These types of attacks are simply unacceptable,” Cannon said.
“We call on the police to investigate and pursue this matter to the full extent. We will continue to respond to emergencies throughout the country but call on the community to take all necessary measures to protect our ambulance officers. “A resuscitation kit and personal belongings are believed to have been stolen. Our ambulance team escaped without injury. “This is the second attack on ambulance workers in PNG in the last week. A New Britain Palm Oil Ltd ambulance driver in Alotau was shot through the chest when responding to an emergency earlier (last) week.

New Ireland pays out nearly K2mil in pension
June 25, 2018 The National
About 4692 people above the age of 65 and people living with disabilities have received their pensions totalling K1,995,200 in Kavieng, New Ireland. It was all smiles and tears of joy for senior New Ireland citizens when they received their 2018 pension delivered to their doorstep by their government. New Ireland Governor Sir Julius Chan said: “though K360 may not be a lot of money it is the government’s deed of respect and value for these marginalised group of people in the society. Everything we do is for a reason, we don’t just do things for the sake of doing it. “The Namatanai District pensions will not be paid. We have to respect the people’s democratic right,” Sir Julius said.
“The majority in Namatanai District chose a different policy, which would issue a higher amount to them, so I respect their right to receive a higher amount of K1000 promised by their member.”

PNG’s first polio outbreak in 18 years as health services decline,
Post Courier, 27 June 2018
SYDNEY – The first cases of polio in Papua New Guinea in 18 years have been detected, with a six-year-old boy from the Morobe province the first confirmed case of the virus. The boy presented to health authorities on 28 April with weakness in his lower limbs and the virus – a vaccine-derived poliovirus type 1 – was confirmed on 21 May. Last week, the United States Centres for Disease Control and Prevention found the virus was also present in the stool samples of two children in the boy’s community; prompting health authorities to declare an official outbreak.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) declared Papua New Guinea polio-free in 2000, along with the rest of the western Pacific region. Only three other countries in the world continue to battle the virus; Pakistan, Nigeria and Afghanistan. So far the three cases are isolated to the Morobe Province, where polio vaccine coverage is low, and only 61% of children have received the recommended three doses. WHO has assessed the risk of polio spreading to other countries as low, because travel in and out of the region is relatively limited.
The virus spreads through faecal-oral contamination, multiplies in the intestines, from where it spreads to the nervous system, causing paralysis. Worldwide, cases of polio have decreased by over 99% in 30 years, largely the result of a co-ordinated global health campaign to eradicate it.
There is no cure for polio once contracted; it can be prevented only by a series of vaccinations during childhood.

UN Launches Response to contain Polio outbreak
Post Courier June 27, 2018
THE United Nations has launched a response to contain the polio outbreak in Morobe.
The UN, along with government authorities, has surveyed the area, collected samples and carried out laboratory tests, it said in a statement yesterday. “Today, as the government declares polio outbreak as a national public health emergency. WHO will provide all the necessary technical material and logistical support to ensure that measures are in place to urgently stop this outbreak and prevent more children from lifelong polio paralysis,” said Dr Luo Dapeng, WHO representative in Papua New Guinea. UNICEF is procuring 611,000 doses of oral polio virus vaccine to immunise about 300,000 children under five years in these three provinces. UNICEF is facilitating the distribution of vaccine, cold chain equipment (vaccine fridges) and other logistics. UN resident coordinator, Mr Gianluca Rampolla said: “While the outbreak is very concerning, it is controllable if right measures are taken on time. We are fully working with the Government of Papua New Guinea to respond to the outbreak. We will take every measure possible to prevent future cases.”

Children are main targets of Sexual Offenders
Post Courier, June 28, 2018
CHILDREN continue to be the main targets of sexual offenders in the nation’s capital and the country as a whole says, the head of the police sexual offence squad. According to an updated survey carried out recently by the constabulary’s sexual offence arm, 75 per cent of sexual harassment cases in the National Capital District alone, involve children. The survey showed that children between the ages seven and 15 were the main victims of the stated heinous act and that the frequency of occurrences has increased substantially since 2015. Speaking on the matter, officer in charge Senior Sergeant Fiona Kakarere said the victimising of minors, usually under the age of 15 was a serious crime that is currently being neglected. She said that since January, more than 100 cases have been reported, the most controversial of which involved a Grade 12 student who sexually penetrated a minor in February that brought about public outcry. The senior officer explained that sexual crimes were uncomfortable solemn, offences that more often than not, are struck out of courts for lack of evidence. She added that PNG’s secretive societal tendencies and cultural systems only acted against the work of her unit and that much awareness is needed to help victims – under aged especially, in convicting and charging sexual offenders. It was also noted in the survey that courts are reporting larger numbers of rape cases where a child is victimised by a close relative, most notably of this week’s 47-year-old dad who was charged with raping his two adolescent daughters.

Decreased Literacy growth rate points to need for rural education improvement.
Post Courier, June 27, 2018
A significant deceleration in the country’s literacy rates over the past two years has brought out a high possibility of negligence to rural education in PNG says an international researcher.
Statistician Dr Irwin Macintosh of Australia’s Sunshine Coast University told Post-Courier this week that a recent study conducted by a small team of researchers for the World Bank funded ‘World Development Report 2018’ showed a decrease in literacy growth rates from 2015-2017.
Literacy growth rate being the percentage of people that can read, write and do simple arithmetic in a particular place, in this instance being PNG.
Dr Macintosh said that data analysed from other countries similar to PNG in developmental status such as Ghana and Samoa, showed a relative drop in the emphasis on rural education after major cities and towns have been adequately outfitted with educational facilities. She urged that the research indicated a need for PNG’s government to push for education in rural and remote parts of the country. “We’ve found that when a country like PNG develops at the rate that it has, more emphasis is placed on urban areas which eventually leads to neglect of rural communities and the resulting decrease in growth rates in health care, security and education. “In the study, we have a graph that shows a steady literacy growth rate from 2000 when the literacy rate was 57.3 per cent to 2014 when it rose to 63.7 per cent. “However, the elegance of the graph crumbles after this when the graph begins to bend toward flat lining at 64.5 per cent,” said the researcher. She explained that correlating PNG’s graph with literacy rate graphs from other developing nation’s points to a similar defocusing of efforts toward rural education development in favor of concentrating funds on already established education facilities in urban areas. “Our research when complete, will help your country’s government to see that there is greater need now more than ever, to push for the establishment of more educational facilities in remote and rural areas,” added Dr Macintosh.

PNG’s intractable drugs problem: the worst is yet to come
Post Courier, 28 June 2018
KUNDIAWA – Each year on 26 June we try to tell people of the danger of drugs in Papua New Guinea; without much success so far. The problem is getting bigger, much more complicated and workable solutions are not presenting themselves. Many of us working in the area of drug rehabilitation and education are fed up and frustrated.  We feel helpless and unable to do much – voices in the wilderness.
Drug related problems are a serious dilemma affecting the development of PNG. Socio-economic problems are getting worse, they are exacerbated by drugs and people no longer live in peace and harmony. Our cultural values and norms which once were our guide and discipline have been thrown to the winds. There is confusion our youth consuming more drugs – marijuana, homebrew and even harder stuff – that triggers more social problems. Cannabis or marijuana has just become like another cigarette. It is sold in the open markets in both rural and urban areas. The overall impact is an upsurge in law and order problems and increasing addiction and mental disorders, setting up a need for more specialist doctors, addiction counsellors and social workers that we simply do not have. Nor do we have the facilities that government would usually provide – like drug clinics and detoxification units. Addicts become criminals; there is no fair treatment and rehabilitation filter. Law enforcement bodies cannot do much to arrest the cultivators because most of the drugs are grown in remote places in the highlands provinces and are extremely difficult to identify and control. People need to know – but don’t – that drug issues are the main cause of social and other problems, including family problems, domestic violence, murder, rape, HIV AIDS and a range of other health issues. We have virtually lost our traditional culture, and a person without a culture has a spiritual emptiness and this vacuum is often compensated for by taking drugs.
We need to adopt a cooperative model to reach a solution, understanding that the drug problem is not an isolated issue but a communal problem that needs a collective solution. All institutions – government, non-government, church and secular – must cooperate to achieve the desired result.
We have to assist our youth to do away with drugs, to live in peace and harmony and become better citizens. If nothing is done, the worst is yet to come.

ABG Under Extreme Budget Crisis Says Momis.
The ABG President, Chief Dr John Momis in his opening remarks at today’s JSB in Arawa said that the ABG is in extreme budget crisis due to the National Governments failure to make payments to the ABG. He said that the ABG should be receiving seventy million kina annually under the Restoration Development Grants of which it has accumulated to nearly one billion kina. President Momis said this year the National Government budgeted for fifteen million kina to ABG but until today the ABG has not seen one toea of those RDG funds. He said he realised that the National Government has its own budget crisis. But the lack of funds being received by the ABG is leading to a desperate situation for us. President Momis said we simply do not have the money to do anything. He stressed that Bougainville is not receiving the amount of recurrent grant needed to meet salary costs, and not enough for our Public Service to do much at all. President Momis said that he hoped that we will reach agreement here on what RDG payments should be going forward and that in 2019 we will see payment at the correct level, of more than seventy million kina. Meanwhile, Prime Minister in his response said that a Trust account for the BRC has been created and funds promised will be deposited soon. He said that the National Government is committed to jointly implementing the Peace Agreement with the Autonomous Bougainville Government. He also said that he had brought five million kina with him today for the RDG from the budget of fifteen million kina for this year, with an outstanding of ten million kina still to be paid.

Mendi Diocese Needs Assistance
Post Courier, June 18, 2018
The earthquake in the Southern Highlands and Hela Provinces has left a lot of infrastructures in ruins in its wake. Bishop Donald Lippert of the Mendi Arch-Diocese says the Diocese had suffered millions of kina worth of damages to its vast network of pastoral, educational and medical facilities across the two provinces. “The Diocese of Mendi probably suffered more than any entity because it has more infrastructure than any other entity except perhaps the government,” explained Bishop Lippert. He said the repairing and rebuilding of these damaged infrastructures will take millions of kina to accomplish. “We still look to the government for assistance in the repair and rebuilding of schools, health centers and related staff housing. So far, we have not received anything,” said Bishop Lippert. Meanwhile, in the wake of the disaster the Church had received some donations mainly from church entities both here and abroad.

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Social Concerns Notes – May 2018

PNG is running out of vital HIV drugs and people could die
PORT MORESBY – Advocacy groups have warned HIV-positive Papua New Guineans could die if the country’s dwindling anti-retroviral drugs supply is not replenished soon. Papua New Guinea is eating into its buffer supply of the HIV medicine after the government slashed the budget for the treatment. “We’re talking about quite a serious situation … where we are now currently eating into our three- to six-month buffer stock of anti-retroviral treatment,” said David Bridger, the head of UNAIDS in PNG.
PNG, which accounts for 95% of all HIV cases in the Pacific, has seen its budget for the HIV drug plummet in the past year. The government has allocated K3.6 million to HIV/AIDS treatment drugs, down from K8 million in 2017. And for the two years that follow, the drugs budget forecast is listed as zero. Antiretroviral treatment is an essential treatment for people with HIV. It stops the HIV developing into AIDS and reduces the risk of HIV transmission. ‘Miracle potions’ loaded with herbs and urine have been sold as methods to combat HIV in the midst of the shortage.

26,000 HIV Patient’s Lives in Hands of Missing Woman.
Post Courier May 23, 2018
THE fate of 26,000 HIV positive patients are in the hands of one woman who is supposed to make assessments to clear 500,000 antiretroviral tablets that are now stuck at Customs. Health and HIV/AIDS Minister Sir Puka Temu assured HIV-positive patients and the public that the Port Moresby
“We did an urgent emergency order and I want to assure them that 500,000 tablets are now sitting at the Customs. We are waiting for the lady to do the assessment but she has gone missing,” he said.
“So I have asked the Treasurer to find the lady at Customs to do the assessment quickly. We are requesting through a formal letter so that they can do the assessment later. They need to release the drugs immediately, today or tomorrow. “That will allow our 26 000 people to be back on the drugs. “Our prevalence on HIV is about 0.9 per cent, that means with 8 million people we have about 70,000 HIV-positive sufferers, so only 47 per cent of those who are positive are currently on the antiretroviral, and at the moment on register is 26,000 of them.”

Tragedy awaits as PNG runs out of HIV & other medicines. Glen Mola
20 May 2018
PORT MORESBY – It’s not always good news. Today we heard at our staff meeting at Port Moresby General Hospital that we have run out of antiretroviral (ART or HIV) medicines. We have many thousands of HIV positive people on treatment in the National Capital District (and several more thousands around the rest of the country) and they may not have any medicine to take unless new supplies arrive in the very near future. People on ART must take their medicine every single day: if they stop and start again they are very likely to breed resistant HIV.Th is is not only bad (in fact life-threatening) for the patient, but life-threatening for everybody else in the community who might catch HIV from them. We also don’t have any syphilis test kits in the country. Syphilis used to be the commonest cause of stillbirth (babies dying inside their mothers) in our audit statistics – and after we started routine testing of all mothers coming to ante-natal clinics and treating the positives we virtually eliminated this scourge from our pregnant mums. But now, with no test kits available, the syphilis problem will come back and many babies will die. And this week we ran out of oxytocin, the drug that prevents women from losing too much blood when they deliver babies. The commonest cause of death when oxytocin is not available is post-partum haemorrhage (excessive bleeding after the birth); so, we are probably going to see a lot more mothers die even when they come to hospital to have a supervised birth.

Resource Curse. Double or Nothing Report. Jubilee Australia.
Flanagan states in part of the report that in 2008, Australian economics consultants ACIL-Tasman provided inflated projections of growth in employment, essential services, household income and the broader economy if the PNG LNG project went ahead. This new analysis proves just how misleading these promises were and how PNG has slipped back into the poor policies associated with previous experiences of PNG’s resource curse.
“Currently, on almost all economic indicators, the people of PNG would have been better off had the project not happened at all,” said Flanagan.
A study conducted aimed to compare the projected benefits for the early years of the PNG LNG project with the actual outcomes building an ‘underlying growth path’ based on how the economy would likely have performed without the PNG LNG project, this study made the following findings:
-Despite predictions of a doubling in the size of the economy, the outcome was a gain of only 10 percent and all of this focused on the largely foreign-owned resource sector itself;

-Despite predictions of an 84 percent increase in household incomes, the outcome was a fall of 6 percent;
-Despite predictions of a 42 percent increase in employment, the outcome was a fall of 27 percent;

-Despite predictions of an 85 percent increase in government expenditure to support better education, health, law and order, and infrastructure, the outcome was a fall of 32 percent; and

-Despite predictions of a 58 percent increase in imports, the outcome was a fall of 73 percent.
These findings are even more extraordinary given that PNG’s exports (due to PNG LNG) have actually exceeded projections (106 percent relative to the higher figure of 114 percent).

Help Comes for Teacher.
Post Courier, May 1, 2018
AT least some form of support has come to the remote teacher who walked from Menyamya in Morobe to Port Moresby to seek answers regarding her salaries. Carolyn Kai had a surprise visit from a representative from Leon Enterprises last week, a business that deals with hardware. She was given some form of help for her upkeep in the city while she awaits Teaching Services Commission for answers to her pay. She was teaching for six years without pay and came to the city 10 months ago to sort her salaries issue with the Education Department. Leon Enterprises representative Jason Choong said the company will pay airline tickets for her and her husband home via Nazab in Morobe when both are ready to leave. Mr Choong was amazed at how Mrs Kai had travelled for weeks to get to Port Moresby to fix her pay issues. “A lot of us in the city take things for granted,” Mr Choong said. “I don’t think you should walk that distance to get what already belongs to you,” he said.
PNG Teacher Association official Moses Taian said PNGTA was doing its best to assist Mrs Kai. He said this is a lesson for Teaching Services Commission to get their act right.

Property buyers in POM, be warned
I write this article to warn fellow Papua New Guineans out there who are thinking of buying property (house or land) in Port Moresby at this tough economic time.
Be warned that the house and land price bubble has burst. There are houses that have been on the market for over 12 months and have not been sold. Most of these properties are still overly priced.
Back in 2015, the average land price was up at K300 to K500 per square metre at good economic times around Tokarara, Hohola, Gerehu and 8-Mile areas. That meant that for a 450 square metre block of land you would pay between K135,000 and K225,000 in 2015. But in 2018, it has dropped to about K120 to K150 per square metre. Therefore, you would pay around K54,000 and K67,500 per block of size 450 square metres. An average house in Garden Hill that was going for K800,000 in 2015 on a 450 square-meter block is now going for under K500,000. At Gerehu and Hohola most houses true average value is K100,000 to K250,000.
The bank interest rates are going from 4.5 per cent to 9.5 per cent. If you borrow K500,000 to buy property at 4.5 per cent interest rate over a 20-year period, your loan repayment will be K37,968 per year (K3,164 per month) and also pay additional K2000 in insurance and fees per year. In Port Moresby, the average salary of a Professional worker is K40,000 to K50,000 per year.
The property loan repayment takes up to 80 per cent plus of an average professional worker’s net income per year. That is insane. Therefore, the house prices above K300,000 and K500,000 in place like Gerehu, Hohola, Tokarara, Morata, and 8-Mile are totally overpriced. Please do not buy.
If you are thinking of buying a house as an investment property, then you will be in even bigger trouble because the bank interest rates are around 8.5 per cent for investment property.
If you borrow K500,000 to buy house and land at 8.5 per cent interest rate over 20-year period, your loan repayment will be K52,068 per year (K4,339 per month) and also pay additional K2000 in insurances and fees per year.
The average professional worker will not rent your property between K3000 to K4000 per month.
Furthermore, average rental occupancy rate in Port Moresby is now at 40 per cent. Do not think about rental income from new property purchases at this stage in Port Moresby because you simply will not rent at the current bank interest rates. Therefore, please think twice before you buy. You will definitely run into trouble with banks if you are unable to service your debts. In summary, do not buy at this time because the real estate prices are still overly priced, the bank interest rates are high, insurance premium still high and rental occupancy rates at 40 per cent.
Sharing information is caring.
Regards, Real Mangi

Madang schools face closure
May 2, 2018 The National
OVER 90 schools in Madang’s Raicoast are among many others on the verge of closing down because of the delay in their tuition fee-free funds. Head teachers have approached the provincial education office since last week enquiring on when the promised funds would be deposited in to their school bank accounts.
Joe Timindi, representing head teachers from Raicoast, said 98 schools in the district have used up their TFFs and were desperately waiting for this quarter’s payment. Catholic education secretary Bruno Tulemanil said Brahman High School was the worst affected agency school since its TFF ran out a few weeks ago. “Brahman has exhausted its funds and it’s depending on assistance from patents and little funds set aside by the school” he said. “The school has 900 students and it’s really struggling.”
Tulemanil said Malala Secondary was fortunate to have the Holy Spirit sisters at the campus who are helping them out. He said Holy Spirit High School in Bogia was also struggling.
Madang education director Moses Sariki said he was aware of the situation and that officers responsible for TFF would brief him so that he could respond accordingly.

Cell at Tari police station full
May 2, 2018 The National
POLICE in Hela cannot make any further arrests because the cell at the Tari police station is full, says provincial commander Chief Superintendent Martin Lakari.He s aid there was no district court magistrate to hear the cases. Lakari said it was a big setback for the joint security forces in Tari conducting operations to maintain order and peace. He said 40 people were locked up in the small cell blocks.
They were arrested in March in an operation conducted by soldiers and police officers.
Lakari said it was overcrowded and was a health hazard to the inmates.
He said they needed a magistrate immediately to hear the cases.
The inmates were arrested for offences such as murder, attempted murder, rape, armed robbery and possession of illegal guns. He said police could not release them on bail because the crimes were serious. Those found guilty could be transported to Bei-ubi jail in Mendi to free up space in the cell.
“If one sector of the Law and Justice sector is not functioning, the other line agencies trying to do some good work to maintain order in the province are also affected,” he said. He had sent a request to the magisterial services last month for a magistrate but had received no response.

2000 women die every year – just giving birth
May 2, 2018 The National
CLOSE to 2000 women die during delivery in Papua New Guinea every year and 6000 infants perish before they are four weeks old. United Nations Children Fund health official Dr Ghanashyam Sethy said the deaths were preventable yet it remained a global problem. “This is mainly because we do not have a specific programme or intervention to tackle reduction of neonatal deaths,” he said.
Sethy said neonatal mortality had virtually remained stagnant for more than 20 years. According to Unicef reports, two thirds of neonatal deaths are associated with high-risk pregnancies, labour and delivery and many happen due to poor access to child health services. Although there are many factors, 80 per cent of neonatal deaths are due to birth asphyxia; infections and pre-maturity, the report say. In addition, hypothermia is a cause of death. Neonates continue to die due to lack of simple, cost-effective care such as warmth, breastfeeding support, basic care for infections and breast-feeding difficulties. About 40 per cent of rural primary healthcare facilities were closed or partially functional. Those that operate were often run by churches, non-governmental organisations or the private sector. Many rural aid posts have closed due to low motivation for staff to work in remote, financially unstable and dangerous environments. Even with the recourse to outreach service delivery for communities from existing health facilities, the high cost of transportation and lack of funding impede effective service delivery to the remote population, the reports say.

Schools Hit Hard at they continue to wait for Government TFF
Post Courier, May 3, 2018
GOVERNMENT authorities have confirmed K40 million in tuition fee funds will be remitted to schools by tomorrow to save hundreds of schools throughout the nation from closing.
Reports from East Sepik state that around 600 schools have threatened to close while in Northern Province 561 schools are affected, nine high schools and secondary schools have been worst hit.
Northern Provincial Education adviser Maino Vegoli said yesterday it was a sad situation for six boarding high schools and secondary schools in the province. He said despite the local MP Richard Masere’s assistance of K10,000 worth of food separately for two schools in the district, they are in a dire situation. The desperation has led provincial authorities to seek assistance from business houses in the province to provide food rations. In Milne Bay Province, 669 schools are affected with two main secondary schools in Alotau badly affected.

Third Country Resettlement for Refugees a myth.
Post Courier May 8, 2018
AUSTRALIA’S Homes Affairs Minister Peter Dutton says refugees on Manus Island who are not resettled in the United States will remain in Papua New Guinea. He said it was a “myth” that other countries would be willing to take them, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported yesterday. The Australian government had struck a deal with the Trump administration to settle up to 1200 refugees from offshore detention, but it was not clear whether all owed protection would be accepted. Those who are not will remain permanently in Papua New Guinea under a deal struck by the former Rudd Labor government in 2013, unless another nation is willing to accept them.
Federal Labor has been calling on the coalition to negotiate another resettlement deal, but Mr Dutton said that was no longer a realistic option.“ Let’s be realistic, when Labor talks about some mythical third country, it doesn’t exist,” he said.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has been talking with many nations for years but there has been no breakthrough. Australia had struck a deal with Cambodia to take refugees, but so far only three people have been successfully resettled there. Mr Dutton said his staff would continue negotiating but described the prospects of success as bleak.

Surprise Hotline helping quake survivors.
More than two months after Papua New Guinea’s strongest earthquake in almost a century, stranded survivors are turning to an unexpected lifeline: a small domestic violence hotline run by a non-governmental organisation. Although the risks of violence against women rise after disasters, most callers aren’t women. They’re men reaching out for support, enquiring about how to obtain food, shelter, and other  services, or fearful of violence that has broken out in some areas after tribal clashes. The toll-free line has been ringing almost non-stop with calls from people whose lives are still upended by the 7.5-magnitude earthquake that struck the country’s remote highlands region on 26 February. The quake triggered landslides that toppled villages, wiped out food supplies, and blocked key access roads. Authorities say the disaster killed dozens and left an estimated 270,000 in need of help. But tens of thousands of displaced people in isolated areas are still waiting for food, water, shelter, and other emergency aid.
The nine local trauma counsellors at the 1-Tok Kaunselin Helpim Lain have fielded roughly 2,000 calls since the earthquake, according to ChildFund. In addition to hearing about shortages of food and other basic needs, the Port Moresby-based counsellors talk with people who are afraid of aftershocks or simply anxious about what’s happening in their communities.

Detainees depending on ‘gift’ food
May 9, 2018 The National
THE KIMBE police station in West New Britain has not been able to afford to buy food for detainees for five months. It has been depending on communities and visitors who brought in food for their family members to feed the others hungry in the police cells, station commander Senior Inspector Daniel Yangen said. “The station’s cell block can hold up to 40 detainees daily,” he said.
“Since December, we have been relying on the friendship relationship with the detainees’ visitors to bring food to feed them and their friends in the cell as we understand that the government’s budget has not been doing well.” Yangen said food was among a number of issues that the station was facing. “We do not have stationery like the charge books and other necessities that are used to record crimes that are reported on a daily basis.” Yangen said they could not use excuses to perform their mandated responsibilities as police officers. “We are working because we have sworn to serve our people in the province and country as a whole by making sure that their safety and security are guaranteed.”

As govt cash dwindles, debt-ridden Simbu schools face closure
09 May 2018
KUNDIAWA – High and secondary schools in Simbu Province are on the verge of closure due to the delay in the release of the tuition fees by the national government. At least two secondary schools in Simbu suspended classes last week. Rosary College Kondiu and Gumine secondary schools put classes on indefinite hold on Friday and students were sent home to await further notice.
“Kondiu, yes, we parents are having emergency meeting today (Monday) to discuss how parents can assist ease the delay under the tuition fee free policy of school subsidies” he said. Later in the day, Mr Kalasim reported that the main resolution of the meeting was that parents would provide food to keep the school functioning until the outstanding fees were released. He said that notable dignitaries attended at the meeting including the secretary for Kundiawa Catholic Diocese, Bishop Anton Bal, as well as the board of directors, parents and teachers.
Mr Kalasim said the school principal reported that the first term subsidy instalment of K140,000 was used to partially settle debts of K167, 000. The balance of K27, 000 remained outstanding and creditors had closed their doors making it difficult for the school to continue functioning.
The experience of Kondiu is not an isolated case. Many schools in Simbu are operating on credit facilities to keep them functioning. When the subsidy comes, it goes to paying off debt. Then schools again resort to credit facilities to operate in a never-ending vicious circle.

Child abuse in the City is alarming
Post Courier, May 10, 2018
Child abuse is alarming in Lae city. It is a war on the children ranging from ages five to 10 years says Angau Hospital family support centre nurse manager sister Anastasia Wakon. She was speaking at the commissioning of the a new state-of-the-art family support centre (FSC) predicted to provide timely and confidential medical treatment for survivors of family and sexual violence. She said they have been attending to more than 50 victims on a daily basis using a container built donga but the new building is a bonus to improve their services. “Innocent children are suffering from the ill behaviors; ‘‘We need to address the issue of drugs and pornography. We all have a lot on our plate to tackle,” Sr Wakon said.

Overcrowding at Mental Hospital
Post Courier, May 15, 2018
PATIENTS with mental illnesses due to abuse of marijuana and alcohol are causing overcrowding at Laloki Psychiatric Hospital outside Port Moresby. The hospital’s psychiatrist Dr Losavati Daugunu said that the majority of the patients at the 56-bed hospital had issues with mental illnesses due to substance abuse. “Some of them are Bomana jail prisoners who have committed crimes under the influence of this substance and have acquired mental illness,” she said. “Today, drug addiction is considered one of the most widespread psychiatric disorders.
Dr Daugunu said that in the past five years, one of the common causes of admission was mental illness due to the abuse of the substance. “Unfortunately, the hospital does not have updated statistics’ of mentally ill patients. However, today, a lot of our young people who have abused drugs are now in the episode of psychosis or encountering mental illnesses caused by the toxins in the marijuana. Toxins are mostly found in the flower tops and leaves of the marijuana plant,” she added.
According to Laloki statistics in 2013, about 211 patients were admitted with different mental disorders.
Marijuana is a factory chemical of its own, containing 421 natural chemicals. A strong-smelling Asian plant (Cannabis sativa), also called hemp. The main active ingredient in the marijuana plant is called “tetrahydrocannabinol” (THC) – delta-9 which has the strongest psychoactive effect.

Babies a part of Prison Life
Post Courier May 15, 2018
LOOKING after a child is challenging and difficult in jails. The children who are in prison with their mothers do not have many clothes but the mothers are grateful to receive supplies of diapers from the prison management for their babies. Such is the case at Buimo jail. Currently, there are three baby girls aged between three months to one year. All three were born while their mothers were serving time. The jail is their home. The three are Serah Taro, three months, Anitha Apung, nine months and Raynola Simon, one year. The mothers said raising them in a jail is challenging and difficult. “When we look after children, they disturb others who shout at us to stop the babies from crying but we can’t help it,” said one mother. “When we want to wash the children’s napkins or other things which they have used, we will be scolded at by other inmates to go wash these things at another place,” said another mother.

15 May 2018
Companies pass judgement: things are worsening in PNG
Being Heard: The 2017 Survey of Businesses in Papua New Guinea by Paul Holden with Paul Barker and Steven Goie, Institute of National Affairs Discussion Paper 105, Port Moresby, April 2018. Download the report here
NOOSA – The overarching message in a fine piece of research of 287 companies by PNG’s Institute of National Affairs is that the business environment in PNG is deteriorating,
The report says the biggest change since the previous survey in 2012 is the problem flowing from the overvalued kina and lack of foreign currency availability, which are cited as damaging investment and growth and as a major impediment to business operations. Corruption is becoming an increasing problem with two-thirds of firms reporting they make “irregular payments” to government officials and more than 60% saying they are affected in some way by corruption in dealing with public officials, Less than 20% say they report solicitation of bribes to police or other relevant agencies.
“The extent of corruption reported by businesses appears to be widespread,” says the report. “While the greatest number of respondents indicated that the problems lay in either Lands or Customs/Finance/Tax institutions…. most respondents indicated that there were multiple institutions where irregular payments were necessary.”
Of as much concern is the finding that business confidence in the judiciary has declined substantially over the past 15 years. In 2002, 78% of businesses had some level of confidence in the judiciary; by last year this had decreased to 60%, with only 20% being “highly confident” in the judiciary.
The law and order situation in PNG is such that security of personnel and property is a large burden on business, amounting to 10% of operating costs. Two-thirds of respondents also say it has a negative impact on investment decisions.“If t here is one constant from the four business surveys over the past 15 years,” the report says, “it is the adverse impact of security and crime on the business environment.”

Health centre’s nurses struggling, appealing for help
May 16, 2018The National
THE two nurses serving around 30,000 people at a health centre in Southern Highlands are calling for more assistance to cope with the load. Community health worker Wendy Pugu and another nurse are based at the Sumbura Health Centre in Kagua district. She said the health centre needed more health workers. “There’s just the two of us here, myself and the other nursing officer,” she said. “Most of the health workers who were posted here have all left due to housing problems.
“There is just the two of us who have remained to serve our people.” Pugu said they got their medicine supply from Mt Hagen every three months. But they would last for only six weeks.
She said the health centre’s water tanks were damaged during the 7.5 magnitude earthquake in February and should be replaced.“ Currently we have no water and we hope that the disaster committee will fast track their duties and provide the health centres with water tanks. We have more than 30,000 people in Sumbura who depend on us.”

Govt must explain why free education is failing – & fix it
21 May 2018
CHUAVE – The government component of TFFE (tuition fee free education) to schools in Papua New Guinea has been slashed to only 50%. TFFE subsidies are released to schools each term and are supposed to cover the actual cost of running a school for ten weeks. The actual school fee per student is divided into two segments: lower secondary (Grades 9 and 10) and upper secondary (Grades 11 and 12). Lower secondary students were allocated K1,300 for 2018 and upper secondary K1,600.
The Education Department under the ministry of Nick Kuman adopted the concept last year. But it was not effectively executed. There was a large amount cut from the money supposed to be paid to schools. Most people, particularly parents living in remote areas and below the poverty line in urban areas, concluded there is a loophole whereby funds have been diverted to other stakeholders. Whatever the actual policy is now, it has not been made known to schools around the country.
There has been no effective survey to analyse the real cost of running schools, but the new ‘slash funds’ policy was drafted and accepted for implementation within the Education Department.
How will remote schools in PNG like Karimui, Kairiru Island, Jimi and Telefomin manage to keep their schools open if the cost is triple that of running schools in a city or town?
Mai High School, located on the outskirts of Kundiawa, has 450 student in Grades 9 and 10. For Term 1 this year it received of K61,960. According to the calculation of K1,300 per student, it was supposed to receive more than twice that – K127,125.
….The consequences of the failure of TFFE have severely affected school operations.
The policy sounded good but its collapse has been a disaster for schools and it is hindering the quality of learning throughout Papua New Guinea.

APEC: Difficult to be enthusiastic about immense govt expenditure
22 May 2018
PORT MORESBY – It is not clear when the big-man politics in Papua New Guinea’s foreign policy began.
It was likely during the prime ministership of Sir Michael Somare in the early 2000s, when he pushed for PNG to be an aid donor to the region.
The Melanesian Arts Festival was a last-minute scramble, hosted in makeshift premises. The South Pacific Games, although heralded a success, went ahead with several venues incomplete.
However, this didn’t stop then sports minister Justin Tkatchenko and then Governor-General Sir Michael Ogio from announcing a possible bid for the 2026 Commonwealth Games.
Three years later, some of the South Pacific Games venues are still to be completed, others are not open to the general public and many have been closed temporarily due to unpaid service bills accumulated from the Games. This is an example of what may happen to the infrastructure being built now to host the APEC summit in November this year, which expects to see leaders from 21 economies, and potentially thousands of officials and delegates, visit Port Moresby.
In the absence of accurate government facts and figures on the economic benefits these commitments will bring to PNG in real terms, it is difficult to be enthusiastic about immense government expenditure on only a few days’ meetings. This is especially so given the bust PNG is experiencing after the heights of the LNG pre-production stage when economic growth rates were more than 10%. Some of the startling boom-to-bust figures were highlighted recently by a Jubilee Australia report which O’Neill was quick to label “fake news”.
…stated that APEC was good for PNG because it would put the country on the map, ensuring “everyone will remember where Papua New Guinea is” and not confuse it with an African country.
This may well be the most accurate statement as to why PNG is hosting APEC in 2018.

The challenging cycle of family poverty, violence & breakdown
Michelle Nayahamui Rooney, Miranda Forsyth, Mary Aisi & Dora Kuir-Ayius | Devpolicy Blog | Extracts. 25 May 2018
You can read the complete article on this important research project here
CANBERRA – We conducted research in Lae for three weeks in April to explore the connections between women’s experiences of seeking support to address family and sexual violence in their lives and their children’s wellbeing and opportunities for education.
Emerging findings from this research have highlighted the multiple financial and social considerations that limit women’s ability to seek certain types of assistance.
The research also highlighted the gap between formal systems of support and the reality for most low-income families whose children tend to fall out of the education system because of the immediate and longer-term impact of family and sexual violence. Many of the women we interviewed have extremely low incomes and low educational levels. Their experiences of violence reflect deeply-entangled cycles of poverty, marital breakdowns and chronic episodic violence – all of which reinforce each other. …..
Many women are supporting others while also dealing with their own experiences of violence, and the research revealed the critical role that neighbours, family members, other survivors, schools, and churches play in assisting those experiencing family and sexual violence. Lifetime experiences and episodes of violence can also involve multiple factors and relationships.
The economic (financial and opportunity) costs of seeking support, particularly from the state, are a major constraint on women’s ability to address the violence in their lives. Many of these costs are related to their ability to provide for their children’s housing, food, education, and other basic needs.
These costs are exacerbated by the lack of knowledge and confusion over the support services available.
Another important reason why women do not pursue the formal route for addressing family and sexual violence is the fear of losing the family income if their partner is sentenced to jail.
For those living in Lae’s informal settlement communities, even if they wish to resolve the matter locally in the community, they must pay ‘table fees’ for local leaders and komiti [committee] members to hear their cases of domestic violence.
These local mediation fees can range from K10 to K50 per party to the dispute. If there are multiple parties in the complaint such as when there is a polygamous relationship, these costs can escalate to include other costs such as compensation.
Costs include being asked to pay the police for fuel or other enticements before they will attend to a domestic violence incident. The delays in responses often mean that the perpetrator has run away.
Some women expressed concern that they are required by police to directly request a perpetrator to come to the police station to face a complaint. Others noted that police, magistrates, lawyers or local mediators were often known to both parties, making it difficult for complaints to be dealt with independently.
Many women also expressed wariness about the formal process especially because they fear the violence worsening if the process is unsuccessful or when the perpetrator is released from jail. For this reason, many women prefer to resolve matters within the family, the church or community. Many women said that they turned to religious spirituality for comfort and hope and found social support within their church networks.

Women and girls finding main bus stops unsafe
May 25, 2018 The National
WOMEN and girls find the main bus stops unsafe because of the harassment they face from petty thieves, according to a United Nations official. UN Women representative Brenda Andrias said the women and girls were often harassed while they are waiting for buses. She said criminal activities at bus stops were increasing with the attacks usually orchestrated by people loitering there. “When there is an attack, people often do not help the victim,” Andrias said.
“The attack is not being reported to authorities because of a lack of trust in people.” She said women were not safe in public transport because of the lack of trust between drivers and the passengers. She said the bus stops at Gordon, 4-Mile and Boroko where most attacks took place.
The UN Women had tried to help women and girls by providing their own buses.

Urgent need to expand services for PNG’s hidden HIV epidemic
27 May.
SYDNEY – Researchers from the Papua New Guinea Institute for Medical Research and the Kirby Institute at the University of NSW say expanded health services are needed to tackle high rates of HIV, hepatitis and sexually transmitted infection among key populations in PNG.
The study, Kauntim mi tu (“Count me too”), represents the most comprehensive understanding of PNG’s HIV epidemic among the key populations considered to be most in need of HIV-related health services. It provides crucial clinical and behavioural information to assist plan a national response to support the country’s efforts in prevention and care. The survey, the first of its kind conducted in PNG, collected data from populations considered most at risk for HIV and sexually transmissible infections (STIs): female sex workers; men who have sex with men; and transgender women.
Dr Angela Kelly-Hanku, principal investigator on the study, says the research provides clear information to guide where the country’s limited resources need to be targeted to turn the epidemic around. “HIV prevalence among female sex workers in Port Moresby was 14.9%, Lae 11.9% and Mt Hagen 19.6%. Even more concerning is that less than half those with HIV were aware they had the virus. Far more work needs to be undertaken to ensure increased access to testing,” said Dr Kelly-Hanku. The report showed that among men who have sex with men and transgender people, HIV prevalence was 8.5% in Port Moresby and 7.1% in Lae.
STI rates were similarly concerning, with more than half of female sex workers and over one-third of men who have sex with men and transgender women diagnosed with one or more STIs, excluding HIV.

Chaos in Enga continues
May 25, 2018 The National
TEN people were killed, a soldier was shot and two police vehicles burnt as tribal fighting continues to cause mayhem in Enga. Enga police commander Acting Supt George Kakas yesterday said Wabag had been declared a fighting zone. He is requesting for an additional 60 soldiers to help police deal with the “worst tribal fight”.
Members of a police mobile squad based in Hela were already in Wabag.
The ongoing fight between the Kii and Kala tribes in Wabag had resulted in the loss of lives and destruction to properties.
Calls by police for an end to fighting to allow peace talks have not been heeded.
Kakas said the soldier shot was in a critical condition at the Mt Hagen Provincial Hospital.
Police could not move into the fight zone because they were outnumbered and the tribesmen were using high-powered guns.

Female principals join march to end tribal war in Wabag
26 May 2018
WABAG – It was a rare sight to see two women – the principal of a nursing school and her deputy – marching to petition the Papua New Guinea government to stop the warfare on Wabag’s doorstep with a more effective intervention. Principal Noelyn Koutalo from New Ireland and deputy Janet Nakore from West New Britain said they joined in the protest march because Enga is now their home and they were sad to see the suffering, death and destruction resulting from the prolonged tribal war between the Kii and the Kala tribes on the edge of town. Both were very near the fighting zone and experienced the effects of the tribal fight.
So they decided to join hundreds of people including the principal of Kopen Secondary School, Dominic Lawton, and church and community leaders from Kopen, Kamas, Kaiap, Sopas, Lakaiyok and many other areas to ask the authorities to stop the fighting and restore services.

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Social Concerns Notes – April 2018

Church Leaders Concerned with low ART Drug Stock levels.

Post Courier, April 3, 2018

The heads of churches who are members of PNG Christian leaders alliance on HIV and AIDS secretariat have expressed concern about the level of anti-retro viral treatment (ART) drugs currently available. In a meeting last week, they expressed this saying that people living with HIV (PLHIV) were experiencing shortages in relation to accessing a full ART drug supply and intake in some centres. “With the current situation where PLHIV are not accessing full medical supply of ART is not good for our national HIV response because the viral load of people living with HIV will increase as a result of not getting it. “The government must act now before our PLHIV will become resistant to ART as a result of not taking the prescribed amount of ART drugs on a daily basis,” chairman of the PNG Christian leaders alliance on HIV and AIDS secretariat Cardinal John Ribat said.

Sir John said when people become resistant to ART it would be very expensive to pay for their drugs and that would even become more worrying problem for PNG. He said the government must act quickly before the situation creates more drug resistant PLHIV.


Children’s rights in prison a concern

April 3, 2018 The National

A JUDGE has questioned why two toddlers forced to live with their mothers in prison are deprived of appropriate food and facilities. Justice Panuel Mogish, who visited Bomana Prison in Port Moresby on Wednesday, told The National that human rights advocates and non-governmental organisations should be raising their concern over the rights of such children to be cared for properly, especially what food they are given to eat. Justice Mogish said there were 30 female inmates in Bomana and among them were two innocent children. He  said the child could be taken away and looked after by relatives after turning three years old. “But in the meantime they are not given enough nutritional requirements that their bodies require. “They just eat the common food that every other convict or inmate eats, so if it’s rice and tinned fish, they all eat rice and tinned fish.
He said the innocent children were forced to be living against their will because under PNG laws, a child can live with the inmate mother until the child reaches three years. “Most of the mothers do not want to leave their babies outside for others to look after and insist on taking them in the prison. It comes naturally for mothers to do that but there are no facilities to properly care for the child.”
Justice Mogish said the plight of convicted mothers with children in jail was “a very big problem”.

“We see people who promote gender-based violence against women and breaches of human rights but they are not doing anything about the rights of the children.
Child abuse ‘part of life’ in PNG

April 3, 2018 The National

CHILD abuse has become so common in Papua New Guinea that it is part of everyday life, a workshop at the University of PNG heard. Pikinini Watch PNG told the workshop that the rate of abuse is among the highest in the world outside a conflict zone. Most children in this country are brought up seeing their mothers and siblings being regularly beaten, the organisation said. According to the organisation, child labour is different from child work. Child labour is seen as loads of work given to a child that is not fitting or appropriate. For example, a six-year-old child taking care of a baby is child abuse but in most cases in PNG it is very common.
Child work on the other hand is work given to a child that is appropriate for their age, like asking a five-year-old to put away his or her dirty clothes in the laundry basket, the workshop heard.
More than half of all Medecins Sans Frontiers consultations for survivors of sexual violence in Tari and Port Moresby in 2014 and 2015 were with children.


Court to review cases of inmates with mental health problems

April 4, 2018 The National

TWENTY-two inmates with mental health issues who have been undergoing psychiatric treatment in Port Moresby since 2015 will have their cases reviewed by the Bomana National Court this week.
Justice Panuel Mogish told the media after visiting Bomana Prison with other members of the legal fraternity last Wednesday that the 22 people indicated that they had completed their check-ups and were awaiting repatriation. “These 22 people are the forgotten people. We bring them here and we forget about them,” he said. Justice Mogish said courts outside Port Moresby had ruled the inmates in question had psychiatric disorder. He said the Bomana National Court was supposed to review their cases on Thursday but constant power supply interruptions in the area forced the court to defer the matter to this week.
He said his jail visit was purposely to follow up on such groups of people who had been forgotten.
He said under the law, a person should be mentally fit and sane to be able to plead to charges.
“He must also be able to understand the charge and be mentally fit to understand and think,” he said.


Pomio landowners have a major court victory over logging giants

LAE – A group of customary landowners in Papua New Guinea has regained access to their land following a significant legal victory against supporters of a Malaysian logging company. Seven people from Pomio in East New Britain were barred from entering their land for the past six years after a restraining order was issued against them in 2012. The landowners include Paul Pavol Palusualrea and Nobert Pames who have been vocal against ‘land grabbing’ and widespread deforestation in the remote district. The National Court in Kokopo set aside the restraining orders after finding there was a lack of evidence. The landowners were represented by lawyers from the Centre for Environmental Law and Community Rights (CELCOR). “We are happy to have won the case for our clients, who are from the forested communities of West Pomio whose resources have been exploited through SABL [Special Agriculture Business Leases],” said lawyer Everlyn Wohuinangu.

The Pomio District is the site of a controversial SABL where large tracts of rainforest have been logged and replaced by oil palm plantations. The dispute over the logging and land grabbing triggered the six-year legal battle between the landowners and local companies sponsored by the Malaysian logging company.


Church group helping inmates gain new skills

April 9, 2018 The National

A CHURCH organisation is visiting prison inmates to teach them trade skills as part of their rehabilitation. Members of the Catholic organisation Mercy Works in Mt Hagen have been teaching inmates at Baisu prison things like sewing, music, and how to prepare stock feed. It is hoped that the inmates can use those skills to find work then they are released. Mercy Works coordinator Sister Mariska Kua said they were making regular visits to the women’s prison, juvenile’s prison and the minimum security prison. She said inmates who had been released were already putting the skills into good use. “We provide food for the prisoners and right now I see that this visit is not a waste but has bigger impacts,” Kua said. “These people have skills and talents.” Kua said God created everyone for a purpose and Mercy Works was using that principle to educate the inmates to look after themselves


Children in quake-affected areas face ‘serious health risks’

April 9, 2018 The National

CHILDREN face serious health risks because of the trauma they suffered from the earthquake last month, according to a United Nations agency, Karen Allen, the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) representative in PNG, said the earthquake had left families devastated, homes destroyed, and victims displaced and traumatised in the four Highlands provinces. “Children are still being confronted by fear, loss, confusion, family separation, deteriorated living conditions and disruption of social and school activities,” she said. She said children in such conditions faced greater health risks such as mental health disorders, delay in brain development, anxiety, depression, self-harm and suicide. Even before the earthquakes, she said children in PNG had already experienced a high risk of violence and abuse. “Available data indicate that girls and boys in PNG experience some of the highest rates of violence in the Asia-Pacific region. “About 75 per cent of children report experiences of physical abuse and 80 per cent experience emotional abuse during their lifetime.”
A recent Medecins Sans Frontieres report showed that 12,000 cases of family and sexual violence are treated each year at the Tari Family Support Centre in Hela.


Problems of addiction are blighting many of our families

16 April 2018. The National

KUNDIAWA – Alcoholism and drug addiction are progressive and fatal diseases that undermine the family unit. Addiction is a family problem with every member, not just the addict, suffering from its effects. In our highlands society, families operate as a system and family members interrelate to each other for a common purpose. When there is no food, all family units work to find some. When there is no money to pay school fees, the family rallies to get it. When a family member is sick, the others provide care and comfort. However, in families where a member is an alcoholic, drug addict or gambler, this balance is lost and there looms a great risk of dysfunction including divorce or separation, child abuse, sexual exploitation, economic manipulation, intimidation, psychological abuse and much more.

Children of alcoholics and drug addicts exist in a dubious moral environment and frequently lack a full understanding of the difference between right and wrong, good and bad, lawful and unlawful.

Juvenile delinquency or youth crime is increasing especially in urban areas.  Psychological and spiritual problem are common among the children of alcoholics, who become confused and lose a sense of who they are.


Risk just grown for HIV kids

April 13, 2018The National

MORE than 300 children living with HIV/AIDS in the earthquake-affected areas cannot access anti-retroviral treatment drugs due to tribal fighting, United Nations AIDS consultant Dr Shinsuke Miyano says. Before the earthquake, 7000 people living with HIV/AIDS were receiving treatment from the 39 clinics in four provinces. It included 300 children. It is estimated that about 9800 people with HIV/AIDS live in four provinces – Hela, Southern Highlands, Enga and Western.
“Those below the age of 15 are considered children and above are adults,” Dr Shinsuke said.
“For the younger children below five years, they got the virus from their mother during childbirth or breastfeeding. “Some children contacted HIV by abuse, gender-based violence and rape.”
The recent earthquake damaged five ART (anti-retroviral treatment) clinics serving more than 100 patients. “We are concerned about the people. A month is too long to live without the drug,” he said. “It will surely have a big effect on their wellbeing.

Climate leads Catholic agenda

April 13, 2018 The National

Catholic bishops have been urged to become advocates of climate change in the Oceania region.
A conference for the Federation of Catholic Bishops Conferences of Oceania (FCBCO) is underway in Port Moresby with at least 80 bishops from across Oceania taking part.
The focus was the effects of climate change on nations and their economies.
Speaking at the opening in Port Moresby yesterday, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, from the Vatican, conveyed a message from Pope Francis calling on the bishops to focus on climate change.
Cardinal Pietro is second to the Pope in the Catholic Church.
“We all share a common home which we call planet Earth,” he said.
“While this may be obvious on one level, if this truth is accepted, then there are ethical implications for everyone as to how we use the treasures of the land and sea.”
The Cardinal pleaded for a deep-seated conversion of attitudes towards God’s gift of creation. In particular, he named politicians and policymakers to put into practice a life of responsible and modest living.

Care centers still at high risk of disease

Although things have quieted down in most of areas affected by the earthquake last week, paramedics from an emergency medical team have highlighted that the critical phase of medical relief operations is far from over.

New South Wales based St John Ambulance paramedic, Ben Fisher told Post Courier last Friday that the risk of communicable diseases now increases exponentially as locals begin to congregate at care centers. “Like anywhere where there’s been a disaster, a lot of people have been displaced from their homes and they are now living together in large groups whether it’s in a church or a school yard or whatever. The big problem now is sanitation, infection and nutrition,” said Fisher.

“It’s likely that they will be exposed to Typhus, Diphtheria and Diarrhoea; because they are a tight group they are very communicable and easily spread due to sanitation issues.”

“Especially in some developing countries, things like diarrhoea in children and fluid loss is still unfortunately a life-threatening problem.


Hey men – let’s make our streets & buses safe for women and girls

7 April 2018.

PORT MORESBY – It was busy Friday and I was amongst the people walking through the Ori Lavi building when a stranger whispered to me, Hey, lush you, perfume stap olsem yu iet.’’

Before I could react he had disappeared into the crowd; frustratingly because it was third time in a week this had happened to me and I could have slapped the guy with force and give him a lesson to think about a thousand times before doing it to anyone else.

This is not a new or unusual incident for any Papua New Guinean girls in public places or who use public transport in our urban areas. It’s the kind of daily challenge to our safety that occurs whenever women and girls step out of their homes.

A stupid remark like “Hey stack one, nogat makmak,” being spat out on the street by a stranger is something many women and girls experience. It may seem like just a bit of harmless fun but street harassment is really about power and control and I know from personal experience that it can easily turn to violence. It’s upsetting to see women and girls being harassed by name calling, unwanted comments or touching when they pass a group of strangers on the street of Boroko or around Gordon’s market. If young girls walk to a bus stop in their shorts, men will leer and start whistling, catcalling and making demands. Taxi drivers follow them around, hooting their car horns. Lewd comments are hurled from all angles..

Most women in PNG experience this form of harassment and they feel unsafe in public places and take steps to avoid harassment by varying their routines, changing the way they dress, refusing eye contact or even avoiding make-up. Others travel in groups or are always accompanied by men while some even employ their own defence mechanisms such as walking with keys between their knuckles. [For the rest of this article, see the url above.]


104 arrests made in 1107 family, sexual violence cases last month

April 17, 2018 The National

PROVINCIAL police commanders are the ones to recommend the establishment of Family and Sexual Violence Units in their provinces, an official says. Police family and sexual violence unit coordinator Job Eremugo made the statement after releasing last month’s statistics on the reported cases of family and sexual violence in 15 provinces.
“A total of 1107 cases were registered, and 104 arrest were made,” he said
He said 70 interim and permanent protection orders were served to the perpetrators, 120 cases were treated as civil, 143 were attended to by the village court, 157 were referred to welfare, clinics and counselling, and 517 cases were pending. According to last month’s report, Manus, Western, East Sepik, New Ireland, Chimbu, Gulf, Hela and Jiwaka did not submit their reports
Jiwaka and East Sepik have not properly set up their units. Gulf, Manus, Western and New Ireland are out of communication. Chimbu did not provide its statistics due to a change in the management.
Hela is closed because of the natural disaster and tribal fights.

It is in times of crisis the true worth of a leader is measured

19 April 2018.

FRANCIS NII KUNDIAWA – Madang, a town once dubbed as ‘Beautiful Madang’ and in even earlier days ‘The Pearl of the Pacific’ because of its scenic beauty has been experiencing serious civil unrest including murder and destruction of businesses and state property in recent times. This crime and disorder has disturbed the tranquil blue waters, large furry flying foxes, arrays of colourful crotons and hibiscus, pleasant hotel facilities and, perhaps most regrettably, the renowned friendliness of the local people. The latest incident involved the death of three local youths believed to have been murdered by settlers, a tragedy that led to further public panic, civil unrest and disruption to the town’s water supply. But, unlike major unrest in other years that continued for weeks, last week’s unrest was quelled in reasonable time with services and businesses quickly restored thanks to the presence and leadership of Bryan Kramer, the Member for Madang in the national parliament, along with police and other community leaders. Bryan Kramer played a decisive role in restoring peace and reinstating the water supply, a vital utility in an urban area which had been damaged during the unrest. Kramer went to the site of the water supply with police, PNG Water and PNG Power and assessed the damage to the water pump. PNG Power went to collect parts to replace those that were damaged, but didn’t return. Kramer didn’t leave. He stayed at the reservoir cajoling PNG Power personnel to return with the parts and get the pump fixed, only departing with the police after the water started flowing again.


Dept: Drug, alcohol abuse rising

April 19, 2018 The National Main Stories

ABUSE of alcohol and drugs has increased drastically in the country, Department of Justice and Attorney-General Secretary Lawrence Kalinoe, says. Kalinoe said the abuse of marijuana, especially among young people in villages, towns and cities had resulted in the upsurge in crime, violence and corruption. He was speaking during the opening of the two-day induction workshop by the National Narcotics Bureau on data and information collection in Port Moresby. “Drug abuse has spread to various age groups and the trend that it is spreading is very frightening and is a big threat to our future,” he said.
“Abuse of drug has led to the destruction of individual life, family units and the entire communities and it undermines national economies.” He said another consequence associated with intravenous drug abuse was the high risk of spreading HIV/AIDS. “The scope of the narcotics problems today in Papua New Guinea has only begun to be realised on the socio-economic front and there is no longer a question of social consequences of widespread drug abuse,” Kalinoe said. According to the coordinator of Rehabilitation, Treatment and Counselling, John Mark, there were new methods of consuming drugs already in use in some parts of the Highlands. Mark said people were preparing it with food and eating as well drinking them.


20 April 2018

The lure of the ‘kaikaiman’ – and the courage to speak & write truth

LAE – The greatest challenge facing journalism in Papua New Guinea is that there is no freedom of the press. Journalists need much courage to speak and write the truth and to know how to use the right medium to express their views. Almost everything that is printed in the press is scrutinised and controlled by the government or an agent in the newsroom – usually the editors. Every day, Papua New Guinean journalists face a big challenge as they have to write according to what their editors will accept, or they can get sacked for insubordination. In PNG, the term ‘kaikai man’ is used to refer to someone who writes propaganda in return for favours.

This syndrome is already deeply rooted and one cannot get away from it, even the reporter with full knowledge that someone is corrupt or lying will continue to write good about them. Glorifying parliamentarians and government bureaucrats is common in PNG. So how do we expect a graduate journalist to deviate from this trend, which continues year after year? The what, when, where, why and how questions we were trained to use have gone to the bunker. No journalist has the courage to ask such questions anymore. Journalists in PNG get assaulted and some get taken to court. Not because they did the wrong thing but because of standing up for the truth. And of course the truth hurts. The media has been suppressed by the very people it is supposed to keep in check and balance. So where stands democracy and media freedom in Papua New Guinea?

All in all, the media in PNG cannot be defined as free. We face a lot of challenges to find our worth in this society of ours.


B’ville HIV cases double in 5yrs

April 20, 2018 The National

THE number of people infected with HIV in Bougainville has doubled in the past five years.
This was highlighted by Catholic coordinator for HIV Stella Morokana during an HIV/AIDS awareness and testing event at Pitpit in Wakunai district on Monday. The diocese team conducted a HIV voluntary counselling and testing (VCT) on employees of the Raibro Construction Ltd, a firm undertaking a major road sealing project. Morokana said there were 53 registered cases at the Mary Mother of Hope VCT facility in Hahela Parish while Our Lady of Mercy VCT Facility in Arawa had 25 registered cases. The figures for St Vincent De Paul VCT facility in Buin and Buka General Hospital were not included. Morokana said in 2012, there were 23 HIV cases registered at Hahela.
By 2017, it had risen to 53. She said in most cases men were infecting their wives. She said more children were born with HIV as a result of infected couple not getting up-to date HIV/AIDS treatment. Catholic church health service in Bougainville as one of the key organisation combating the HIV/AIDS had been faced with funding and not enough HIV counsellors in past years.


Peace committee records 100 reported sorcery deaths

April 20, 2018 The National

THE peace committee of the Nahu-Rawa local level government in Raicoast, Madang, has recorded up to 100 deaths since 2012 related to sorcery. Committee chairman Vini Arihafa said the figure was for the killings reported to them. There were others killed and their homes burnt in the inland villages which were unaccounted for. Arihafa, a former primary school teacher, told The National that sorcery-related killings were ongoing despite a surrender ceremony between the Hausman and suspects’ factions held at Ramu Sugar Township in February last year. While waiting for the reconciliation ceremony to be held by the Nahu-Rawa local level government administration, four more people were killed. Arihafa said occurred at the Ranara Primary School on Tuesday last week.
“The incident occurred at the school grounds and forced the teachers and students to close the school indefinitely. Some teachers vacated the school in fear of their lives,” Arihafa said.


More Midwives Needed in the Country

Post Courier April 24, 2018

PAPUA New Guinea needs more midwives to save lives. This is for mothers and children during child birth, says University of Goroka’s (UOG) bachelor of midwifery program co-ordinator Paula Puawe.

“Child birth is not a disease and yet we continue to hear of big number of women dying during child birth because we do not have enough skilled midwives. “At the same time, there are a high numbers of infants dying from preventative diseases,” she said. Currently at UOG, there are 38 midwifery students studying under the program. According to Mrs Puawe, the midwifery program started in 2012 and has enrolled students from all over PNG. “Midwifery in the country is low so when we started this program, which is funded by DFAT, we started with 500 midwives being registered.

“Over the five years, we have trained more midwives and according to the PNG Nursing Council, there are more than 800 midwives registered in the country, however this is not enough,” she said.

She said the situation in the country is that there are 733 maternal deaths per 1000 live births which are too many PNG women dying every year and many more continue to die in the rural areas.

“Neonatal period is the period from birth to 28 days of life or the first month of life. This period is crucial for the mother and her baby as this is where midwives are required not nurses….


Funding cuts affecting church health services, says official

April 24, 2018 The National

SOME church health service centres are facing problems because of the cuts in their funding, an official says. Representatives of the centres around the country are attending their annual conference in Port Moresby. The church health service secretariat manages all church-run health facilities and training schools in the country. Chairman of church health service board Japalis Kaiok said cuts in funding were affecting their operations. “Most of us are experiencing issues with keeping the students and training going. Shortages in funds might affect the training programmes for this year,” he said. He, however, thanked the Minister for Health and HIV-AIDS Sir Puka Temu for supporting the church health services. “We thank the government for the continuous recognition of the Christian training institutions and church health funding,” Kaiok said.
Sir Puka said the government was prioritising health systems to meet the issues. “Our priority area is health and health systems, and we will be putting funds for all health programmes whether run by the government or a church,” he said.


Cult activities force school to suspend enrolment

April 24, 2018 The National

A HIGH high school has suspended grade 11 enrolment this year because of cult activities. The school is Aiyura National High School at Goroka, Eastern Highlands. Karl Puluma said the suspension of grade 11 was part of an effort to eradicate cult activities in the school. The suspension of grade 11 was among the three recommendations by a committee.
The recomendations are:

  • A complete shutdown of the school;
  • converting Aiyura into a college; and,
  • Stopping grade 11 enrolment for a year and allowing grade 12 students to leave without influencing the younger pupils.
    “We adopted the third recommendation and have now eradicated cult activities in Aiyura. We are a new, fresh and free Aiyura National High School,” Puluma said.

95% of PNG Population Live in High-Risk Malaria Areas

Post Courier, April 24, 2018

Nearly 95 per cent of Papua New Guinea’s populations live in areas of high risk for malaria transmission and Kuriva community in the Central Province is no exception, according to the health department. In commemorating World Malaria Day today, students attending the Kuriva Primary School were given access to early diagnosis and treatment at the school grounds. During a visit to the school today, Health Department’s Central Public Health Laboratory Quality Assurance officer Dorothy Abala told this paper that since the start of the screening program at the school ground on Monday this week, out of more than 70 children tested, about 27 were tested positive with Malaria parasites. “Many of these children did not look sick but after being tested, we found out that many of them had Malaria,” she said.


 Tightening the belt? Chinese soft power in Papua New Guinea
Development Policy Blog. By Sarah O’Dowd and Grant Walton on Apr 26, 2018
As PNG prepares to join China’s Belt and Road Initiative, Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has stated that his administration is entering “very tough negotiations” with Beijing to ensure that PNG’s interests are put first.

Concerns about Chinese investment in PNG are not new. Some argue that the increased flows of non-conditional and commercial investment from China have exacerbated corruption and mismanagement. Investments by Chinese companies in PNG, such as the controversial Ramu nickel mine, have received particular criticism. A small number of researchers, including the ANU’s Dr Graeme Smith (see here and here), are asking questions about the implications of growing Chinese investment on governance and development outcomes in PNG.

Their concerns are supported by analysis of data from the China Global Investment Tracker, which monitors Chinese investments of over US$100 million. It reveals that between 2005 and 2017, only two Chinese companies were awarded multiple contracts worth over US$100 million by the PNG government. These two companies, China State Construction Engineering Corporation (CSCEC) and China Communications Construction Company (CCCC), share one concerning trait: they were both blacklisted by the World Bank for fraudulent, corrupt, collusive, coercive or obstructive practices.

It must be noted that the World Bank blacklist has no impact on national or private deals and only prevents blacklisted companies from securing contracts that are financed by the World Bank. PNG is also far from the only country that has procured the services of CCCC and CSCEC, which are two of the largest companies in their industries globally. Yet the blacklisting casts doubt over their accountability and effectiveness.

CSCEC was blacklisted by the World Bank for fraud, corruption or collusion from 2009 to 2015 but was still engaged for a project in PNG in 2014; this was in addition to another project in 2016, the year after the ban was lifted. These projects were cumulatively worth at least US$430 million. While neither of these CSCEC projects generated significant controversy, the same cannot be said for CCCC investments in PNG.

Although CCCC and its subsidiaries were blacklisted by the World Bank for fraud from 2011 to 2017, it invested at least US$590 million through three separate projects in 2012, 2013 and 2015. While the latter two projects are reportedly on target, PNG is still suffering the fallout from the CCCC’s first project in PNG: the Lae port. While construction was ostensibly completed in late 2014 by China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC), a subsidiary of CCCC, the discovery of significant structural defects prevented the port from becoming fully operational. Government reports allegedly found that CHEC’s defective work will cost more than US$62 million to rectify, but the O’Neill administration has refused to publicly release the findings of government inquiries into CHEC’s mismanagement. By failing to do so, the PNG government has prevented the public from knowing about how mistakes occurred and what measures are needed to prevent similar errors in the future. [See the url above for the rest of this article]


Short on funds

April 26, 2018 The National

THE Government is yet to pay out to schools K97 million in tuition fees for the final term last year, plus another K50 million for the first term this year. Education Minister Nick Kuman said this was because of the increase in the number of enrolments caused by the TFF policy. He said while the allocation in the national budget remained at K600 million, the number of students enrolled in schools was continuing to increase. “When there is an increase in the enrollment rate, it is really hard for us to accommodate that K600 million. And it is all paid on a quarterly basis,” Kuman said.
Some schools have complained that they have not received their allocation last term and are pressing the education department to pay it. Kuman said the ministry had to take into consideration “elementary all the way up to the boarding schools” in allocating was being made available….
Lutheran missionaries

April 20, 2018 The National Letters [Responding to order that some Lutheran missionaries be deported or not permitted to return to PNG]

THE newspaper article, “No support for deported missionaries”, in The National on Monday (April 16) raises many questions and concerns. Our day-to-day contact with pastors, members, and churches of the Gutnius Lutheran Church is quite different than what was reported.
Our experience reveals that there is a high level of support for the missionaries, both past and present, of the Concordia Lutheran Professional Mission Services rather than “No support” as indicated by your headline. The Concordia Lutheran Professional Mission Services (CLPMS) was established in 1991 under the laws of Papua New Guinea to serve the people and churches of PNG.
It is the successor of New Guinea Lutheran Mission (NGLM) which was founded in 1948 to serve and bring the Good News of Jesus Christ to the people of the Enga. The NGLM helped found the Wabag Lutheran Church which eventually became the Gutnius Lutheran Church. As independence came in 1975, the NGLM was dissolved and ultimately became the CLPMS. The missionaries labelled as bad missionaries in the article have served the people in PNG in many capacities for many, many years: Pastors, translators, teachers, doctors, nurses, etc. They have engaged in many areas including theological education, Bible translation, creating literature for churches and schools, providing books and educational materials for churches and schools, providing training for pastors and teachers, AIDS awareness, human care, building airstrips in remote areas, construction and maintenance, addressing the sanguma problem and rescuing victims, earthquake relief, among many other things.
One American missionary who they attempted to deport in 2014 had spent his entire life translating the Bible into Ipili, a language of the Porgera area. But he had already died earlier that year after a long battle with cancer. One CLPMS missionary who is overseas and has been blocked from returning to PNG was even recognised by the Queen for her services to PNG. Was the Queen wrong when she recognised this woman for her services to PNG?
Do we have disagreements with some people in PNG? Yes, of course, as might be expected when people work together, especially when waste of resources or fraud are involved. Please understand: We have a responsibility to our sponsors and financial supporters in America and Australia.
But we will always stand for what is the best for the nation and the people of PNG and for our mission: to proclaim the Good News of our salvation through Jesus Christ.

Concordia Lutheran Professional 
Mission Services


Why the Church speaks on social and political issues

WHY does the church speak on social and political matters? This question betrays the belief that the spiritual has nothing to do with the mundane, with the worldly. The church’s sphere is the spiritual, so they claimed, so it should keep silent and be aloft over such worldly matters as politics, business and society in general. This way of thinking, however, is foreign to the mission of Jesus, because he has come to save the world—to renew everything, including social realities! In fact the end game of the plan of salvation is “the New Heavens and the New Earth”.

The Holy Book tells us: “According to his promise we await new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.” (2 Pet 3:13) All things came from God and all things have to be brought back to him. So all reality, including the temporal order or the order of this world, will have to be permeated with the Spirit of God. “Our redemption has a social dimension because ‘God, in Christ, redeems not only the individual person, but also the social relations existing between men’. To believe that the Holy Spirit is at work in everyone means realizing that he seeks to penetrate every human situation and all social bonds.” (Pope Francis’ Evangelii Gaudium, 178)

Therefore the Holy Father clearly teaches: “No one can demand that religion should be relegated to the inner sanctum of personal life, without influence on societal and national life, without concern for the soundness of civil institutions, without a right to offer an opinion on events affecting society.” (Pope Francis’ Evangelii Gaudium, 183)

There are values that are needed in social life. These are truth, justice, peace and love. We need these in order to have a human society, that is, a society that is worthy of human beings. These virtues are to be implanted in all institutions in order that people can live and work together in harmony. These virtues are needed not only in the church and in families. They are also needed in politics and in business. Woe to us if there is no truth in politics. No business will prosper if there is no justice. There will not be peace if there is no justice. Love makes people at home not only in their homes but also in their workplaces. Not only are these virtues or values needed but they cannot exist alone. They all come together. The absence of one will not make the others effective. There can be no love if people are not truthful to each other. There is no justice if there is no love and vice versa.

These values—truth, justice, peace and love—are all kingdom values, that is, values of the kingdom of God that Jesus has come to bring about. All institutions therefore, including the Church have to strive to operate according these values.

In the light of this, we have the marching orders of Pope Francis: “The Church’s pastors, taking into account the contributions of the different sciences, have the right to offer opinions on all that affects people’s lives, since the task of evangelization implies and demands the integral promotion of each human being.” (Pope Francis’ Evangelii Gaudium, 182)

Religion has a role in political debate, not in providing concrete political solutions, which lies outside the competence of religion, but to recall to society the objective moral norms as the basis of justice, truth, peace and love.

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Social Concerns Notes – March 2018

Death Toll Rises

Post Courier March 6, 2018

People of Hela have been living in fear since the magnitude 7.5 earthquake struck on February 26 followed by more than 50 aftershocks, Tari-Pori MP James Marape said yesterday. “People in the electorate and other affected areas are not sleeping in their houses but spending nights in open fields in fear of tremors that might cause their shelters to collapse on them,” Mr Marape, who is Finance Minister, said. “Last two nights I witnessed people out in cold and rain fearing to go into their houses in case earthquake strikes again. I call on responsible agencies of state to establish the cause of this continues earthquakes and inform our people as to the possibility of future occurrence.

“There also a lot of speculation on the cause of it hence the need for appropriate government authority to ascertain the cause, present in ordinary languages to our people to recover from the trauma associate the shake,” Mr Marape said from Tari. While acknowledging National Government and partners like ExxonMobil and Oil Search for their commitment for big help to the affected areas, due to various assumptions that the continuous quakes might have links to the LNG project operations, Mr Marape asked for answers in relation to these questions by people.


Youths Caught in Act of Cult Initiation

Post Courier, February 26, 2018

A cult initiation was busted by police and the University of PNG security last Saturday resulting in the arrest of 39 boys. The boys, aged between 14 and 18, were caught drinking hombrew and were in the middle of an initiation ceremony near the back road at Eight-Mile, behind the university Waigani campus in Moresby’s North West. The boys are from the same school and were in the process of producing and consuming homebrew when Waigani police and Uniforce arrested them. A green wheelie bin that was used to mix their homebrew was also confiscated in the raid. Police station commander Jerry Yawa said that the boys were in a big group but only 39 were caught. “The younger boys were scared with a lot saying that they were coerced by the older boys to join. “It was only because of intimidation that the younger boys joined the drinking session,” Mr Yawa said. The boys spent a night in the police lockup while police were questioning the group.

Mr Yawa said parents must know at all times that their children are safe in school and also the fact that discipline begins at home.


Stranded Students Hike Back to School

Post Courier March 5, 2018

Mendi School of Nursing that was damaged in last Monday’s earthquake has its final year students on nursing practical still out in remote parts of Southern Highlands and Hela awaiting evacuation back to the school. Some began to walk back to their damaged school because the school cannot reach them as no other help was on its way. For instance, three female students at Inu Health Centre in Kutubu could not get back to Mendi after roads and bridges linking to their school were damaged. Two of the students decided to walk for help while another sought assistance with Oil Search that flew her out of Moro to Port Moresby yesterday. One of the students who wanted to remain unnamed had her horrors to tell of the 7.5 magnitude earthquake that hit Southern Highland and Hela provinces last Monday morning. She said students on their eight-week long practical could not be rescued and many started walking back to Mendi in search for help. “We could not remain in the health facility and assist anyone because it was damaged. I was hungry for three days because we ran out of rations after we had a few biscuits from teachers at the nearby damaged Kutubu Secondary High School. “Our advice from the school was to wait. We could not wait. The house we were living in was damaged and water sources were also destroyed. The sewer was broken and sewerage spilled everywhere. We could not wait around in such area,” she said.

“Everyone was in fear and needed some sort of help,” she said. “We decided to find our own way out.


State to Pay K42,000 for Human Rights Breaches

Post Courier, March 6, 2018

The National Court has ordered the State to pay four individuals a total of K42,400.80 for breach of their human rights by police 10 years ago in Port Moresby. Justice David Cannnigs handed down the decision on the assessment of damages at the Waigani National Court in favour of Michael Wafi , Efete Max, Petrus Magabe, and Samuel Arawe following a successful trial that determined that the State as the employer of the police officers was liable for the breaches.The plaintiffs claimed damages for property losses, breach of human rights, personal injuries, and exemplary damages. “The claims were generally excessive due to the lack of corroboration. However, there was sufficient evidence to defeat the State’s proposition that nothing should be awarded, and the court proceeded to make an assessment in respect of each category of damages for each plaintiff,” Justice Cannings said while also ordering the State to the pay the plaintiffs’ cost of the proceedings. The four were among seven other traders who were subjected to physical assault by police and suffered the destruction and confiscation of their trading items including betelnuts, mustard, cash, cigarettes, playing cards, cigarette lighters, prepaid mobile phone cards, lollies, matches, and umbrellas at Gerehu market in Port Moresby Northwest in 2009. The members of police who were armed with firearms and bush knives raided the market looking for people who had earlier started a fight in the market, the court said.

In another decision Justice Cannings ordered the State to the pay one Charlie Kogora K32,814 inclusive of interest for breach of his human rights after he was remanded in custody for five days in an overcrowded, and unhygienic police lock-up in Buka, Bougainville, in 2011. The lock-up was an intimidating, inhospitable and threatening environment, that also had convicted prisoners and Mr Kogora was traumatised and genuinely feared for his physical and mental well-being and his life, the Judge said.


Station shuts as cell runs out of food

March 6, 2018, National

THE Popondetta police station in Northern was closed yesterday and officers will not respond to public complaints because there is no money to feed prisoners in the cell, provincial police commander Chief Inspector Lincoln Gerari says. Gerari told The National that the shortage of funding has been a problem since beginning of this year. “I made contact with police headquarters and I was informed that there were cash flow problems in the department,” he said. “We have closed the doors as of today (yesterday) because we are unable to feed the prisoners and we cannot get any more into the cell.” Gerari said more than 30 prisoners, some of whom were being held for very serious offenses including murder and rape, would not be released to the community for the safety of the public.
Gerari said detainees held for minor offences were released.
He said a court of law would decide their cases, however, police were in a desperate situation because the prisoners have not been fed.
“The prisoners were not fed the whole weekend.”
Gerari called on the Government to intervene because they could not keep the hungry prisoners in the cell for too long.


Delay Critical

Post Courier, March 7, 2018

A rescue helicopter pilot has painted a grim picture of delays in critical relief supplies to some of the areas worst affected in last Monday’s earthquake and continuing aftershocks.

Veteran Heli-Solutions pilot, Captain Eric Aliawi, said yesterday that many disaster-affected communities have not yet received any relief supplies, in the nine days since the earthquake. The Government is slowly pooling together relief efforts in the wake of the massive earthquake.

Having conducted more than 100 flights in and out of disaster-affected areas since last Monday, Captain Aliawi made specific mention of the communities in Homa and Pawa that had not received relief supplies despite being only about four minutes by air from Moro Airfield.

“What we have done so far is we have taken the crew from the disaster emergency people and the provincial government around to the affected areas. We’ve carried the administration and our political leaders around to these places to assess the extent of the damage. We have taken a few doctors, around to the disaster areas as well, basically to check and declare people clinically dead, but without any medication,” he said.

He said that the death toll had continued to climb during the past few days, with another nine people being reported dead in the Bosavi area on Monday.

“Amid threats of landslides and liquefaction in some areas, other factors such as the lack of portable drinking water, food and medical supplies continue to endanger lives in disaster areas. “Every night we are getting reports of people being killed. Yesterday, I believe about nine or 10 people were reported dead in the Bosavi area. “I flew the provincial heads or the political team across there.


War on Sale of Betelnut goes wrong for Police

Post Courier, March 8, 2018

A Port Moresby police operation against betelnut vendors yesterday went horribly wrong when a church-run school in Hohola became the target instead. National Capital District police have launched an investigation to determine how a gas canister aimed at the vendors caused four children to be sick at the nearby Sacred Heart Primary School. One child was reportedly still under observation at the Port Moresby General Hospital yesterday afternoon.

The police had opened and left the gas canister near a bakery store about noon for the wind to blow the gas towards the betelnut sellers at the Hohola Market to remove them.

The offending policeman was observed strolling on the road towards the market as the gas gathered momentum and moved in the opposite direction to the school yard. The gas affected four students, causing dizziness, shivering, watery eyes and difficulties in breathing. School headmaster Pokatou Litau said that a student from Grade Five ran to the administration building to warn of the smell.

“The school was warned over our PA system and students who were experiencing headaches and watery eyes were applied water to their eyes and moved to another part of the school where there was no smell of the gas. “A little boy was seriously affected by the smell and rushed to Saint Therese Clinic and on to Port Moresby General Hospital. “After we stabilised the students we called their parents, who rushed over and took their children home,” Mr Litau said. A parent who was made aware of the incident described the police officers involved as callous, unqualified and stupid.



Resource curse as ExxonMobil’s LNG project foments unrest

Post Courier 09, March 2018

You can read the complete article here

The Papua New Guinea liquefied natural gas (LNG) project is the largest resource extraction project in the Asia-Pacific region. Constructed at a stated cost of US$19 billion, it’s operated by ExxonMobil in joint venture with Oil Search and four other partners…..

It claims the project could potentially improve the quality of life of locals by providing services and enhancing productivity. Workers and suppliers would reap rewards, as would landowners who would also benefit from social and economic infrastructure.

But six years on, none of this has come to pass. … Papua New Guinea now faces a situation where it’s compelled to send its army to an area where a major resource extraction project has failed to deliver on its promises to landowners. It may be time for all parties involved – both state and corporate – to consider development as a more effective path to peace.

(For the rest of this interesting article, see the url above).


Jiwaka’s young people top the list in shocking HIV figures

March 13, 2018The National

JIWAKA is the worst-hit Highlands province in HIV/AIDS infection among school-aged people, according to provincial HIV response coordinator Kuk Gola.
He said youths between the ages 13 and 25 were the most affected group in Jiwaka, which was the highest among the Highlands provinces although all the figures were not available.
“The province is only six years old but seeing the trend in which our young people are in danger of HIV is worrying,” Gola said. “The future of the province is at stake. We can no longer keep it confidential.”
The HIV programme in Jiwaka has received some funding support from Unicef, Baptist Union PNG, Family Health International 360 and the Jiwaka government over the last four years. Gola thanked them for the support which has enabled them to run some programmes.
He said the increase in the HIV prevalence rate among the young population was detected through pregnant girls and young people who went for treatment.


Severe Sea level Rising Expected

Post Courier, March 16, 2018

Papua New Guinea is among 12 countries in the Asia-Pacific that will experience a severe rise in sea levels during this century, according to World Bank studies.

The studies say the sea level is rising, and will continue beyond the year 2100, even if greenhouse gas emissions are stabilized today.

Sea levels are expected to rise by at least one meter during this century, according to the current scientific consensus. It is envisaged that sea levels may even rise by three meters by 2100, in light of the new evidence on ice-cliff instability of the Antarctic.

Dangers of sea-level rise include but are not limited to:

  • land loss from the permanent inundation of low-lying coastal areas;
  • intensification of inundation from cyclonic storm surges;
  • loss of critical coastal wetlands, for example mangroves; and
  • progressive salinisation of soil and water.

World Bank has warned that tens of millions of coastal inhabitants of East Asia and the Pacific must prepare for the rise in the sea-levels.

A World Bank study identified coastal areas with low elevation, and assessed the probable consequences of continued sea-level rise for 84 developing countries, using satellite maps of the world overlaid with data on population growth (assuming that the current locational distribution is unchanged). Including 12 countries – Brunei, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, D.P.R Korea, Republic of Korea, Malaysia, Myanmar, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam – the study’s findings indicate that the impact of sea-level rising will be particularly severe for this region. The other study projected that the loss of mangroves in China, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, Myanmar, Papua New Guinea, Micronesia, Palau, Solomon Islands, and Fiji, heightens the countries’ vulnerability to cyclones – and catastrophic losses of lives, property, habitat, and infrastructure.


26 Care Centres in 5 Affected Provinces

Post Courier, March 16, 2018

THERE are 26 care centres in the five affected provinces identified by the United Nations as aid reaches remote communities cut-off by the 7.5-magnitude earthquake – Hela and Southern Highlands the worst hit. Emergency Controller Dr Bill Hamblin said yesterday that rescue workers are grappling with landslides, blocked roads and downed power and communications to reach isolated villages but all these being addressed amidst geographical and weather conditions. Dr Hamblin also said that Australia and New Zeeland’s air assets would cease operations mid next week which would cause logistics problems however, the Government would revert to Oil Search to provide air assets as well as a few commercials airlines. “There’s about 26 care centres that the UN has identified around the region where people have gathered and we trying to supply water and materials etc … and we make sure we got health people there in there,” Dr Hamblin said.

“What we are trying to do now is support those centres where the people are until such time as they feel they can go back because some of them are very, very reluctant to go back,” he said. “We are going to look at how we get the supplies to these areas longer term by roads, that creates us with hell lot of problems as we working on how to solve that and maintain supply over the weekend. “All the air assets from Australia and New Zealand will go mid next week. Also that’s the issue with food, but we also have Oil Search Limited that have gone beyond the call of duty.


New Life-saving Device

Post Courier, March 16, 2018

A LIFE-saving device for newborn babies will soon be available throughout Papua New Guinea after being successfully trialed in three hospitals.

The tiny device, a bracelet on a baby’s wrist, will alert doctors, nurses and parents when a new baby loses body heat (neonatal hypothermia) which normally causes death if undetected.

The PNG findings were revealed yesterday by a team from the Disease Control Centre in Atlanta (USA), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the Health Department, the University of Goroka and non-governmental group “Touching the Untouchable” in partnership with the Eastern Highlands Provincial Health Authority that trialed the devise with 448 newborn babies.

The first-of-its-kind research was carried out at the Port Moresby General Hospital (PMGH), Goroka Provincial Hospital and Henganofi Health Centre in the Eastern Highlands Province.

According to UNICEF’s health specialist Dr Ghanashyam Sethy, the hypothermia bracelet, locally dubbed ‘Bebi Kol Kilok’, is a simple, innovative device which detects and alerts in the event of neonatal hypothermia, enabling improved thermal care of newborns. He said this device is put on the baby’s wrist immediately after birth and it monitors the baby continuously for one month both at the health facility and at home. “PNG has one of the highest child mortality rates in the world and this is one of the efforts to help address this issue,” Dr Sethy said, adding that between 5000 and 6000 newborns die in PNG every year from preventable diseases. He said that while pneumonia was a common killer, hypothermia was another killer not widely known and happens when the body temperature of the baby falls below 36.5 degree celsius as against the normal body temperature of between 36.5 degrees and 37.5 degrees. When an alarm on the bracelet goes off, the mother will do a skin-to-skin transmission of body heat by holding the naked baby to her chest initially, later covering the body while the heat is transferred until the alarm stops to indicate that the child has regain his or her normal body temperature, Dr Sethy said. He said if the alarm continues on sounding after doing that then it indicates that the mother should get the baby to the nearest aid post or health centre.


TB up by 70pc in 5 years

March 22, 2018The National

NEW cases of tuberculosis increased by over 70 per cent in the past five years despite the national strategic plan to control the disease implemented by the Health Department in 2015.
Director for Public Health Dr Niko Wuatai said the increase was mainly due to patients’ failure to complete their treatment. Wuatai said when people did not complete their six-month treatment, it eventually led to multi-drug resistant TB, more expensive to treat and harder to overcome. “The hotspots in the country include National Capital District, Western and Gulf,” he said. National Capital District had the highest increase in the country with 3.3 per cent every year, he said. Wuatai said TB was a disease associated with poverty, and with living conditions in settlement areas had supported the spread of the disease.
With yearly increase, the Health Department had implemented the national strategic plan to control TB in 2015 and result showed:

  • An increase of over 70 per cent of new cases of TB in the last past five years;
  • medicine supply from WHO was in stock and in good quality;
  • TB patient receiving HIV tests had increase from 13 per cent in 2011 to an average of 24 per cent in 2016, some provinces recorded about 40 per cent;
  • children made up more than a quarter of TB caseload in the country; and,
  • TB is among the top five causes for hospital admission.


76 college students face expulsion

March 26, 2018 The National

SEVENTY-six students from Enga Teachers’ College found to have defrauded the college of more than K120,000 in fake school fee receipts since last year will be expelled today.
The final decision was reached by a 13-member governing council of the college in their meeting on Saturday after a Criminal Investigation Division unit from Wabag gave their report. Led by Enga police commander George Kakas a team went to the college and interviewed each student who was implicated last week after being invited to investigate.
Kakas said each student who was in their first to third year and elementary teachers admitted to the offence of conspiring with a syndicate, that falsely claimed to be provincial education officials trying to help students meet their full fees. According to Kakas, the syndicate crime as testified to by the students during the interview, started last year, the masterminds collected certain upfront payments as well as pigs and goats before producing receipts of full payment.
“It is a massive fraud, a criminal offence committed against Enga Teachers College. We cannot tolerate it. We’ve presented our reports to the school witnessed by two education officers who came from Port Moresby. “The penalty against such crime (conspiracy to defraud) is a maximum of seven years imprisonment. But we leave it to the school board to decide which course of action to take as we further assist them.”
Those that are facing termination are Year 1: eight students; Year 2: 26; Year 3: 37; and Elementary: 5 students. The students produced fake school fee receipts and got enrolled in 2017 and 2018, amounting to K122,180.
College bursar Odilia Turuk showed all the fake school fee receipts which were identified after making cross checks with the bank (BSP) branch in Wabag.


Quake described as a “curse” from God

Post Courier March 8, 2018

THE multi-church group Body of Christ has described the recent natural disasters experienced in the country as a “curse.” In his capacity as the chairman of the Body of Christ that is made up of Evangelical Churches and few mainline and Para church groups, Pastor Joseph Walters said this in light of the recent United Nations vote by Papua New Guinea on United State of America’s decision to move its embassy to Jerusalem. “We believe that there is a connection between these two issues because the Church that where Jesus Christ is the head and we are the body has its roots in Israel and as a Christian nation, our faith is rooted and originates from Israel.

“Vote against USA is a vote against Israel and God because according to the Book of Genesis verse 12 Chapter 3: “If you bless Israel, I will bless you and if you curse Israel, I will curse you. “We therefore, view and believe that the disasters we are experiencing now are a direct consequence of that vote.

“We fear that many more will follow if no one steps in and avert it quickly by saying sorry and stick to the promises in 2 Chronicles 7: 14 which states: if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face, repent their sins and turn from their wicked ways then I will hear from heaven, forgive their sins and heal their land,” he said. He said they consider this as dangerous because for any country or person for that matter, tempers with the roots, he or she is inviting trouble and especially when he is a leader, he is bringing trouble to the people that he leads.

“This is what has happen to the extent with the recent UN vote by PNG on USA’s decision to move its embassy to Jerusalem on Dec 21 by the ambassador as well as the foreign affairs department.

“This vote was taken against a friend that we cannot dare to turn our backs against as it is not a physical, bilateral, political and economical friend, but a friend who is deeply connected to our faith and that is the nation of Israel.

“Despite much animosity and hatred against this nation by different groups of people all over the world, as long as time existed, Israel has become a genuine friend of PNG.

“We want to affirm Prime Minister O’Neill for his stance and support for Israel because PNG has seriously betrayed this friendship,” he said.

He said those heartless and thoughtless people who make decisions like that do not know that dire consequences it will bring upon the nation. He said it is so dangerous when you deal with scriptures and nations that are tied with God’s Word, Will plan and time. He said the Government has violated its own policy of friends to all and enemies to none. “The best thing that can happen to overrule and over ride the vote is for PM and his Government to come out clearly and tell the nation that PNG will definitely build its embassy in Jerusalem.

“The Church leadership is ready to raise the funds to contribute in building the embassy,” he said. He said in any future dealings to implicate spiritual consequences, the Government must consult the Church so they can play their roles as prophets and they as Kings and Rulers so that together, they can bring in that balance and build security for the welfare and well being of the nation.


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Social Concerns Notes – February 2018

7000 positions still unfilled at government health centres
February 12, 2018 The National
PAPUA New Guinea has more than 7000 positions still vacant at Government-run health facilities in the country. According to the 2016 annual health report tabled in parliament last week by Health and HIV/AIDS Minister Sir Puka Temu stated that out of the 17,878 positions available in government-run health facilities, only 9985 positions were occupied.
The report said the number of vacancies were due to many reasons, which included funding constraints, rural-urban migration, shifting from clinical to administration and sometimes remoteness of rural health centres which did not attract health workers. “Another reason is that the country has only one medical school that produces only 50 doctors a year, so from 2010 to 2016 only 316 doctors graduated,” the report said. “Also from 2010 to 2016, only 1364 nurses graduated and 2326 community health workers graduated in the country.”
The report said that the country had only 446 registered medical officers of which 421 were in government-run health facilities.
“The National Capital District has the highest number of health workers with more than 15 per cent of the total population of the health workforce practising at the Port Moresby General Hospital, followed by Central.” “And Hela has the lowest with only one per cent of the health workforce practising in the province,” the report said.
Better development alternatives (Letters Post Courier, 29 January)
I support the call by one Alphonse Roy to ban all logging operations in PNG (Post-Courier, December 22, 2017). There are now better development alternatives for our forest resources. Consequently, there is no need for landowners to pursue an outdated development option like logging. We can do forest conservation to mitigate climate change and benefit through climate funding. A tree is now worth more money standing than dead, so it is worthwhile to conserve our forests and attain more social, economic and environmental benefits than to earn a few lousy kina from a cubic meter of wood.
The Managalas Plateau, an area of 360 thousand hectares in the Oro Province, has recently been declared a biodiversity conservation area along with Yus in Morobe Province. So biodiversity conservation is no longer a myth in PNG but a development option that promises more than just the preservation of peoples’ culture and natural environment.
The Rottock Bay landowners of Kandrian-Gloucester in West New Britain Province are now calling on the PNGFA to action recommendations of an audit that was carried out on logging operations in their forests. They claim they are owed millions of kina by the developer, having been paid in part or not at all since 1991 for many of the development benefits.
If the benefits of 60 per cent for infrastructure and the collective 40 per cent levies for education, business, agriculture, spiritual and shelter have been partially paid or not paid at all, then something is really wrong here. We bet Rottock Bay had been utterly exploited for timber in the last 21 years without any meaningful development.
Forest development audits in PNG are pathetic. They actually have no teeth to bite the offender, so the forest developer feels no urgent need to fulfill its social, economic and environmental obligations to its stakeholders.

Many Students miss out
Post Courier January 29, 2018
12,234 grade 12 students have been selected for further studies at tertiary institutions this year, according to the Online selection system. The successful ones were out of the 25,848 school leavers who had applied to further their education. According to Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology Minister Pila Niningi, all students with a grade point average of 2.3 and above that met respective GPA and subject to related entry requirements were allocated space within a higher education institution. He said 3204 school leavers will continue their studies at a study program at the six major universities.
According to initial data compiled from the 2018 selection document published on the higher education website, University of PNG selected 1002, PNG University of Technology selected 599, University of Goroka selected 561, University of Natural Resources and Environment selected 200, Divine Word University selected 565 and the Pacific Adventist University selected 277 for the 2018 academic year. The other 9030 grade 12 students were awarded a study program in various government-recognised tertiary colleges.
Last year’s school-leavers total was 25,848. Students continuing were 12,234 (47 per cent), non-continuing students: 13,614 (53 per cent), universities: 3204 (12 per cent) and colleges 9030 (35 per cent).

Sisters working on safe house for victims of violence
January 31, 2018 The National
NUNS in East New Britain are establishing the first safe house for victims of violence in province. The FMI Sisters are setting up the safe house in partnership with the Archdiocese of Rabaul, ENB Family and Sexual Violence Action Committee (FSVAC) and Roar 4 PNG, a non-governmental organisation which supports survivors in crisis. The safe house will provide a sanctuary for women and children who have experienced family or sexual violence. Survivors will be able to access services such as healthcare, police and legal aid.
The project began a few years ago when the ENB FSVAC decided to build a safe house as a priority for the province. The Archdiocese of Rabaul provided land and donors have supplied shipping containers which will be used to build the safe house. The FMI Sisters are being trained as fulltime staff, and the ENB FSVAC is working on a referral pathway network between service providers to ensure holistic care for survivors.

Teachers without pay for 12 months
Post Courier February 5, 2018
Teachers who graduated and were posted to schools around the country last year have not been paid their wages for the 2017 Academic year. This was revealed by PNGTA General Secretary, Ugwalubu Mowana last week. Mr Mowana blamed the Department of Education for the delay, adding that it is not only new graduates who are affected but also includes teachers who have transferred from one school to another. He said the Department of Education through Teacher Education has the responsibility of registering teachers, issuing each teacher a file number which will then be provided to the Teaching Service Commission (TSC) for admission and payment. He added that this has however not been done and the delay in payment has continued. “All graduates from 2017 and teachers who have transferred from one province to another or have left and come back into the teaching service have not been paid,” he said. Mr Mowana asked why the affected teachers have not been paid their salaries; further adding that there are a lot of problems within the teaching service and these outstanding issues need to be settled. Mr Mowana said that teachers sacrifice a lot and these issues must be settled to give them relief.

Senior hospital staff ordered not to talk about medicine shortage (Scott Waide)
MADANG – The CEO of Modilon Hospital in Madang and the hospital’s Director of Medical Services have been issued directives barring them from talking about a medicine shortage at the hospital, EMTV’s Madang correspondent, Martha Louis, has reported. This is not the first time senior health staff have been threatened and intimidated through orders from above,
Earlier last year, the health minister also issued directives barring staff and senior management from Angau Hospital from speaking out about the state of the cancer unit and a medicine shortage.
It is good that we still have doctors like Dr Sam Yockopua who are unafraid to speak out when there is a shortage of medicines and consumables. We all need to do the same.
While we understand that there are protocols that need to be followed, the ultimate aim of government is to serve the people of this country. The suppression of important ‘voices of conscience’ like health workers and teachers when the problems are so obvious is detrimental to both the people and democracy. I know of both older and younger public servants who are hardworking. They serve with an unrivalled passion in their fields. I know of health workers in Lae who serve with dignity despite the difficulties they face every day.
They don’t get paid as much as they should. Yet, they know they cannot shut down the clinic just because there is a shortage of medicine.  Their senior representatives should not be suppressed. How can we fix a problem if we hide it? How can a doctor treat a patient if the patient doesn’t say what’s wrong?
Martha Louis reported that the hardest hit by the lack of medicines and the suppression of our voices are the patients. “Papi Kalupi travels from his village at Ono in the Usino-Bundi District to get treatment in Madang,” she writes. “But he says because of the cost of travelling he only comes to the hospital when he is very ill. We have to ask why our people are being forced to buy the most basic medicines – anti-malarial and antibiotics – at pharmacies.

Backlog of Bench Warrants Troubling
Post Courier, February 9, 2018
A massive 6493 bench warrants were not executed in 2016. This is according to the 2016 Judges Report which was presented in Parliament yesterday. The report was presented in Parliament a day after it was given to Governor-General Sir Bob Dadae by Chief Justice Sir Salamo Injia who had complained that judges’ reports in the past had not been tabled on time in Parliament. Yesterday’s report detailed that these cases were still pending citing lack of resources by the police force to execute the cases.
But for these specific unexecuted bench warrants, the report stated that 50 per cent of these outstanding cases were criminal matters. “Bench warrants, that is warrants issued by the court for arrest of persons who have not turned up to court for mention or trial of the matter, continues to be a large and troubling issue in the overall context of disposal of criminal matters. “It represents more than 50 per cent of all outstanding criminal matters. Bench warrant matters also increased significantly in 2016 to 6493 from 5083 at the end of 2015.
“While judges can and do take into account the prospects of an accused person not attending when required, it is also necessary to take into account the situation in remand facilities which are mostly overcrowded,” the report said. It said that the only likely long-term solution was more resources for both Correctional Services and the Police. The 2016 report said that there were 5395 “poor returns on executed bench warrants” by the police in 2013. In the body of the report a chart graphically demonstrated the tripling of the court files and workload that has occurred in the years 2008-2016.
“The average number of days to complete a criminal case from committal for trial until judgment is 585, or 20 months,” the report also noted.

Kaunim mi tu…. 11 February 2018
Government stalls on supplies of drugs as death toll rises. Media reports from around Papua New Guinea have drawn attention to the critical shortages of vital medicines in hospitals, health centres and aid posts. These shortages are causing unnecessary suffering and even death – especially among the most vulnerable; young children, pregnant mothers, the elderly and disabled. All of which could be prevented.
PNGi has discovered that the government has to hand a detailed report setting out solutions that would tackle critical failings observed within the National Department of Health and its private contractors; yet is failing to implement the recommended reforms.
The report, dated 6 November 2017, which is sitting on the Health Minister’s desk, is from a wide ranging ‘special’ audit, ordered by the Prime Minister, coordinated by the Chief Secretary and conducted by the Internal Audit Branch of the Prime Minister’s Department.
The, auditors damning findings, reveal widespread failures throughout the medical supply and distribution chain which, they claim, have persisted and not been addressed over several years. The report contains details on a specific instance of alleged high-level corruption, widespread opportunities for fraud, overpayments to contractors totalling as much as K80 million a year, and delays in orders and distribution which can last not just months but years.
It also reveals widespread violation of proper management and accounting principles within the Health Department and a complete failure to monitor the performance of companies on multi-million kina contracts.
The audit report recommends a number of immediate, short-term and long-term reforms to deal with the most critical failures, including the outsourcing of the procurement function away from Health Department in order to address the “urgent need to have an effective and efficient procurement and distribution of medical supply system”.
Three months later its recommendations have not been acted on.

Momis urges more urgency for Bougainville referendum readiness 12 February 2018
President John Momis says that, although many Bougainvilleans will opt for independence, being ready for the referendum is another matter. “We are not prepared simply because we are too lazy, we are too individualistic,” he said. “We are not prepared to work in unity to create a conducive environment for us to be independent if we so choose.”
Efforts to create a financially self-reliant Bougainville through developing primary and extractive industries have met opposition, especially from landowners around the Panguna minesite. Dr Momis said landowners are resistant to working with the Bougainville government, opting instead to bring in developers that are unwilling to operate under the government’s rules. Although financial self-reliance is not a pillar of the Bougainville Peace Agreement, Dr Momis has stressed it is a precautionary move to ensure that, when Bougainville reaches the ratification stage for self-government, its people will be ready for it if they so choose. The three pillars of the Bougainville Peace Agreement – autonomy, the referendum and weapons disposal – set a clear target Bougainville must work towards.
The current administration under Dr Momis has encouraged unification, improving the welfare of Bougainvilleans through economic development, securing Bougainville’s future by fully implementing the peace agreement, promoting good governance and the rule of law, and raising awareness. But the vexing question of referendum preparedness remains, driving the government to reassert itself to make sure the people are ready. Dr Momis said despite the seemingly bleak future Bougainville faces, its people must unite with one voice and ensure Bougainville is ready for 15 June 2019. The peace agreement expires the following year.
“We must stamp out corruption, get rid of weapons and ensure the rule of law prevails in our communities,” he said.

K3.2 million Child protection Project mysteriously stopped
Post Courier, February 15, 2018. Frank Kolma
The government’s child protection effort that commenced in 2017 has derailed less than a year into its operation. According to 2018 Budget books, the Child Protection project under the Integrated Community Development Scheme of the Department of Community Development has ceased operations for lack of funds. Tabled in the ‘2018 Budget estimates of Revenue and Expenditure’ which was released during the 2017 November Budget session, K3.2 million was afforded to a mysterious child protection project. Efforts to find traces of tangible outcomes of this multimillion kina child protection project were in vain, but it was gleaned from the expenditure report that the sole project was funded by a donor agency in collaboration with the government.
It was confirmed that the Australian Agency for International Development provided funds for this ad hoc project that tackled a rather vital societal issue but that funding ceased due to the lack of government drive. While the now discontinued child protection project was a foreign intuitive both financially and operationally, it would seem the government of the day did not take heed of community deficiency indicators to do with childcare and protection.
The Asian Development Bank’s Aaron Mathews said recently while commenting on child protection in the country that security starts with ensuring youngsters and children are safe.
“It is not only logical but practically proven that the foundation of dealing with security in any capacity is by first having a decent enforcement entity. “You have that in the RPNGC, your Defence Force and relating enforcement authorities. “All the country needs to do is back such initiatives like the child protection project that is now unfunded and abandoned as these are societal gaps that analysts have identified as potholes that need to be filled,” explained Mr Matthews.

Mendi Catholics host workshop to promote children’s safety
February 23, 2018 National
FOURTY-two participants received certificates after a weeklong workshop on the Lukautim Pikinini Act – Child Protection Training – in Mendi, Southern Highlands, recently.
Mendi diocese Bishop Donald Lippert said: “When it comes to children’s issues, it is everyone’s business and responsibility. “I am grateful that you all have sat through the week-long Lukautim Pikinini Act Training. “The challenge now rests with you.
“To be good volunteers in child protection, your mindset must change completely.
“When your mindset changes, your character changes too, so you are prepared to make a change in your communities.” The acting chief executive of the Office of Child and Family Services, Simon Yanis, told the participants that the government was serious about addressing child protection and the churches played an important role in delivering those services.
“I want to congratulate Bishop Donald and the Mendi Catholic diocese for hosting this training and it’s a milestone for the district itself as for too long we have been out of contact with this province,” he said. Yanis emphasised that children were the government’s responsibility and he would ensure that those living in care centres had their data collected and registered.

Opportunists prey on ills in education. Letter Post Courier 20 February.
While the Education Department continues to struggle to improve the failing quality of the country’s education system, opportunist had preyed on the department’s weaknesses by establishing many illegal primary school teachers colleges in the country, as reported in the two dailies in recent weeks.
With the thousands of school leavers dropping out from the formal education system under the government’s TFF policy, many business people and church organisations’ with vested political affiliations are now focusing on making millions of money from the ever increasing school leavers by establishing many substandard teacher colleges around the country today.
Regrettably, this is a sad chapter in the history of our country’s education system where we now see direct political influence in almost everywhere. Hence, obstructing the education department from implementing their delegated roles and responsibilities without fear or favour….
With the thousands of graduate teachers coming out from these colleges, the quality of education in the country in the next 10 to 20 year will be far beyond manageable. Thousands of incompetent teachers will be flooding many of our primary schools with equal number of teachers without jobs.
Worse yet, unlike the formative years where appointments were done on merits, through teacher inspection and performance reports, today’s appointments are determined by the amount of money a teacher give to the education appointment officers as a bribe to secure a teaching position, regardless of experience or new graduate. A common predicament experienced in the Southern Highland Province where huge amount of money and pig is involved to bribe provincial and district education officers.
In the next 10 to 20 years’ time, I predict that applying for teaching positions will be like bidding for a used vehicle auction where a teacher with the highest bidder secures a teaching position. These are already happening in closed doors in every education office in the country where appointment officers and district education officers alike are running the education office like a family business….
Ken Nandawa
Yaporolo Weki

More Refugees off to US
Post Courier. February 20, 2018
More refugees have been sent to the United States of America from the Manus regional processing centre. Immigration Minister Petrus Thomas and Chief Migration Officer Solomon Kantha said 19 more have been sent and departed Port Moresby for the United States of America (USA). The 19 refugees left on February 13 transiting through Manila. They were the third group who were successful in their interview and screening process carried out by the US Department of Homeland Security.
The 19 refugees who left last Tuesday brings to total 84 who departed to US so far. The first group of 25 men left in September last year followed by another 40 early in January.

Despite repeated promises, PNG’s greatest ever scandal continues
Today is the first anniversary of the presentation of a 10,000 signature petition to the Department of Lands demanding the cancellation of the SABL (special agriculture and business) leases. 2018 also marks five-years since the SABL Commission of Inquiry exposed the full extent of the illegal land grab, which affects more than 10% of the whole country.
But, despite repeated promises from the O’Neill government to cancel the leases, stretching back to 2013, almost nothing has been done. The government’s response to the illegal SABL land grab is the greatest scandal this country has ever seen. Even the brave landowners who have struggled through the courts to have leases declared illegal, without any help or support from the government, or have stood up and defied the logging companies despite attacks from the police, still have foreign companies occupying their soil.
A list released two weeks ago by the Lands Department revealed that of 75 SABL leases examined in the Commission of Inquiry, only 10 have been cancelled, five of those were at the direction of the courts and four voluntarily surrendered. Meanwhile, as the government delays get ever longer, most of the SABL files have disappeared from the Department of Lands. Fifty thousand square kilometres of land, more than 10% of the entire nation given away illegally yet the government does almost nothing to undo the wrong and indeed is still allowing logging companies to plunder the forests. With APEC leaders now preparing to visit PNG, the SABL land grab is a huge embarrassment for the nation.
If the government wants to show we are still a sovereign nation, they must immediately give the land back to local people, evict the foreign companies and pay compensation to the communities for the losses and damage they have suffered.

Corruption Index shows improvement
Post Courier, February 23, 2018
The launching of the Transparency International 2017 Corruption Perceptions Index yesterday has revealed a four point increment in PNGs’ score since last year.
In spite of this slight increment however, PNG still ranks among the top 25th percentile of the most corrupt countries in the world, placing 135 out of 180 countries ranked in the index, with a score of 29 out of 100.
Out of the 180 countries surveyed, New Zealand has snatched the top spot from Denmark this year, although both countries registered lower scores than in last years’ index, with Somalia retaining its position at the bottom of the index.
TIPNG chairman Lawrence Stephens acknowledged that the increment showed some signs of improvement for PNG. However, he stressed that more consistent efforts needed to be made to combat the global scourge of corruption, which for PNG means greater participation of citizens in public affairs. “2018 is the year of APEC for Papua New Guinea and the eyes of the world are already shining a spotlight on us. This is not just a government matter. All sectors; churches, businesses, civil society and citizens must make it their business to improve PNGs’ ranking,” said Mr Stephens.
“We call on the government to enable greater participation of citizens in public affairs and we encourage relevant legislative changes to make this work. Equally important is that citizens need to demand accountability from public officials and speak up and report corrupt dealings in the public and private sector,” he said.
Deputy Prime Minister Charles Abel said he accepted PNG’s ranking on the index and acknowledged that much more needed to be done to improve the country’s standing in the global community….

Legislative Changes threaten Independent Commission Against Corruption
Post Courier, February 23, 2018
Deputy Prime Minister Charles Abel has highlighted that amendments to the enabling legislation for the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) have threatened to “water-down” the functions of the proposed government agency.
During the launch of the Transparency International 2017 Corruption Perceptions Index yesterday, Mr Able said questions were raised about amendments made to the ICACs’ powers to prosecute perpetrators of corruption, which now risks turning the institution into yet another duplicate government agency.
“There were questions around the ability or not, of the ICAC to prosecute and to make arrests. Of course, if you remove those sorts of powers, does it effectively become another Ombudsman? Which already has a function and is already in existence,” said Mr Abel.
“We need to make sure that there’s clarity around the intent of ICAC and the corresponding tools to implement that intention. There were questions around that happening, which has led to a sort of re-examining of it and emphasising that we want ICAC to be a solid organisation. Otherwise, what’s the point of having it?” he said.
Apart from the subsequent powers and jurisdiction of a future ICAC, there has also been much debate over the functions of an ICAC. Attorney General, Davies Stevens in a public seminar last year, clarified that the Prime Minister, as Head of State, would be responsible for the appointment of ICAC commissioners. The announcement has left many citizens question the political independence of such a body. Mr Abel also said that it was this current dilemma which has stalled the progress of the ICAC enabling legislation.
He added that the government was particularly wary of creating a duplicate institution, which would only constitute further financial strain on an already stretched government budget.
He said other cost-effective alternatives would include not establishing an ICAC, but instead reinforcing existing agencies like the Ombudsman Commission.
Transparency International PNG (TIPNG) chairman, Lawrence Stephens also said that there needed to be an effort to reinforce existing government institutions. He added that a future ICAC will only be as strong as the institutions which support it.
“An ICAC alone does not solve the problems of a country. If you look at the countries where the ICAC is working effectively, you’ll see it’s working effectively because of the institutions that are also working effectively within that country,” Mr Stephens said.

Free education policy is destructive (Letters Post Courier 23 February.)
THE Government’s free education policy is the most destructive policy against education in this country. This policy budgets K600 million annually for education. Of that sum, K360 million trickles into schools or never get there and nobody cares. Schools all over the country get to see K240 million paid in dribs and drabs from February to the following February.
I live within a secondary school with up to 1500 students. Assuming the government is paying a conservative figure of K1500 for each child in their TFF, that means about K675,000 of the annual TFF fund for that school is sent to the District for infrastructure.
In the last three years, this school would have had K2.025 million allocated for school infrastructure. Now this is a reasonable sum of money for a school of average size like this school.
As I write this letter, about 60 per cent of this school, teachers live with wantoks at blocks and settlements and catch bus to school and return. The girls dormitories are in such shameful state of disrepair, one will soon collapse over the poor innocent girls. Thank God for the wisdom of one of the former school principals, the classrooms were lifted and another built underneath otherwise there will definitely be no space to take in all the students that get selected to this school.
The question is, has the school received all this money and spent it on things other than infrastructure. If not we want to know what happens to these funds that are tied funding to schools?
The other component called the curriculum component get another K675,000. From the content of the issues given to students, the package contents are similar to a package sold in one of our stationery shops for K40. That will mean in real value, students from this school received K60,000 worth of curriculum materials.
Where is the remaining K615,000? Who is receiving it and for what?
This school is forced to provide quality education with K900,000 paid in intermittent payments spread over 10 months, while K1.35 million rightly for the school is sent elsewhere under complex circumstances, nobody gets to ask if these funds actually arrive at the school in whatever form or state?
And the most learned minister for education vehemently argues that no school must charge any project fees.
Can Papua New Guinea see how this government is providing “quality” education?
Manning Forepe

How should peace be measured in Papua New Guinea?
By Michelle Nayahamui Rooney on Feb 16, 2018 06:00 am
Development Policy Blog
For most of us our raison d’etre for seeking to understand violence is the need for peace. If we understand violence then we can reduce it and thereby have peace. For many people working on the frontlines, it is not a career choice but a labour of love and life often unpaid or involving great sacrifice. PNG women like Dame Carol Kidu, the late Josepha Kiris, Ume Wainetti and many others have paved the way for legal reform, national action and policies like the recently approved National Strategy to Prevent and Respond to Gender Based Violence and the Sorcery National Action Plan. National actors, in partnership with development partners, have also been instrumental in paving the way for the emergence of new initiatives like the Family and Sexual Violence Action Committee, PNG’s first case management service Femili PNG, and much needed counselling services. Through these and other initiatives such as work in the Law and Justice sector, the next generation of actors are also being trained.
I proceed with deference to this extraordinary body of knowledge generated by scholars, national actors, and development partners leading action to reduce violence in PNG. This work unequivocally informs us that violence in PNG is multilayered, gendered, involves multiple actors, and is fast changing. It also counsels that there are no silver bullets, that our responses need to be multifaceted but may also have unintended consequences that may exacerbate violence.
Media narratives, often sensationalised and essentialised for Western audiences, mask the breathtaking diversity, breadth and the depth of issues that the term ‘violence in PNG’ canvases.
For example, media reports that cite the statistic ‘2/3 of PNG women have experienced some form of violence in their lifetime’ paints the majority of PNG women as victims rather than as remarkably resilient and vulnerable at the same time, actors seeking to secure themselves while simultaneously being the vanguards of peace in their families and communities. Another typical headline ‘Why is Papua New Guinea still hunting witches?’ reinforces the demonization of particular women and community responses yet tends to fall short of explaining why this phenomenon appears to be spreading. With among the highest homicide rates in the world, the lawlessness and crime in two of PNG’s largest urban centres, Port Moresby and Lae, rank them among the least liveable places on earth. The human cost of ongoing tribal warfare exacerbated by the proliferation of modern arms in the Highlands Region cuts across all aspects of daily life. Such entrenched ethnic-based conflicts extend their tentacles to the urban setting where ethnic violence engenders collective security at the cost of subjugating action on domestic violence. Election-related violence and contestation of resources are often resolved through violent means. The images of bashed up asylum seekers on Manus Island reinforce the demonization and marginalisation of Papua New Guinean men.
We have come to take for granted these portrayals of a violent PNG.
Oversimplified narratives of violence carry the risk of conflating different phenomena. For example, work on gender based violence may conflate domestic family violence with sorcery related violence targeting women. These are extremely different phenomena requiring different solutions. In the case of sorcery, Miranda Forsyth and Richard Eves highlight the complicated legal issues and that ‘understandings about what the actual problems are differ widely depending upon the world view of the person concerned’ (p. 2). How do we reconcile a community’s sense of security (that they feel threatened by a woman they believe to be a sorcerer) with the worldview of those trying to measure SDG16.1.4, which seeks to measure the proportion of people who feel safe walking alone in their neighbourhood?
Nor are formal laws and institutions a simple answer. The entanglements between Western laws and customary norms mean that families trying to address domestic violence must navigate complex webs of jurisdictions and actors. See here for a discussion on some of these complexities. Or, as Christine Stewart’s research shows, formal laws can work to reinforce violence against those whose choices on consensual sex – prostitutes and homosexuals – are deemed criminal acts under PNG law.
Understandings of security in the PNG context diverge significantly from Western notions of security. In PNG, belonging to social and ethnic groups are important for security. The nuances and cross-cutting nature of this can be seen in Vicki Luker and Sinclair Dinnen’s edited collection of papers in Civic Insecurity: Law, Order and HIV in Papua New Guinea. How do we reconcile inter-ethnic violence that engenders collective security with policing when the police lack capacity or are non-existent? Where they exist, police often deploy their monopoly power on violence in ways that violate human rights. Stephanie Lusby’s research shows that the formal and male dominated security industry can work to reinforce gender based violence.
To conclude, I draw your attention to Aletta Biersak, Margaret Jolly, and Martha Macintyre’s edited collection on Gender Violence and Human Rights in the Western Pacific. Inspired by Sally Engle Merry’s work on Human Rights and Gender Violence, and ‘translation’ and ‘venacularisation’ the authors examine the interface between universal human rights regimes, from which the SDGs (particularly SDG16) emerge, and local understandings and responses to gender based violence in the Western Pacific. Amongst an immensely rich terrain of issues, the collection reminds us of the contradictions inherent in universal concepts of human rights. For example, on the one hand, universal human rights concepts are based on universal rights and equality of persons. On the other hand, they promote cultural diversity. These contradictions raise questions like whether there can be ‘universal’ human rights. Or, as Margaret Jolly discusses in the conclusion, what do universal human rights mean when notions of individualism and person-hood change alongside PNG’s rapid social transformation?
If violence is so expansive and complex. If violence has multiple faces each wearing multiple masks evading our search to understand it. If violence can conceal itself within the world views of communities to provide them clear logics to harm their own. If violence has such power and agency, then surely the same must be said of the dynamics of peace – our raison d’etre – for understanding violence.
This blog only touches the surface of the wealth of scholarship and nationally produced knowledge on the complexities of violence to highlight the challenges of applying universal measures of peace to the PNG context. Nonetheless, PNG is a signatory to these universal goals and has an obligation to both its citizens and the international community to measure progress towards the goals. The work being undertaken by the Institute of Economics and Peace on ‘Measuring Peace in the Pacific’ is an important start and should complement these existing works. It is also an opportunity to acknowledge important work being undertaken to achieve peace and security in PNG. After all, as this study by David Craig, Doug Porter, and Fiona Hukula shows, Papua New Guineans work every day to make their communities safer places.
This is an edited version of a talk given at the launch of the Institute for Economics and Peace report ‘Measuring Peace in the Pacific’ on 1 February 2018.

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Social Concerns Notes – January 2018

Compulsory SIM card registration in Papua New Guinea
By Amanda H A Watson on Jan 24, 2018 Devpolicy
The SIM card registration deadline in Papua New Guinea (PNG) has now been extended to April 30. The deadline was to be today, but over a million mobile phones are not yet registered. If consumers do not register in time, either their SIM card will be deactivated or the operator will receive a fine from the regulator NICTA for continuing to operate unregistered SIM cards. A SIM is a Subscriber Identity Module linked to a user’s phone number and usually looks like a small computer chip.
In various countries, SIM card registration has been legislated. Governments often adopt such a policy in order “to help mitigate security concerns and to address criminal and anti-social behaviour”. In PNG, similar motivations for the policy have been expressed, including the need to have increased security in time for the APEC meeting in Port Moresby later this year. A concern though is that “to date, there has been no empirical evidence that mandatory SIM registration directly leads to a reduction in crime”. Indeed, in Mexico, the theft of handsets increased after a similar policy was introduced, likely because “criminals stole handsets to avoid the risk of being traced”. Mexico subsequently abandoned their SIM registration policy and later introduced a scheme for registering handsets. Several countries in Latin America have opted for handset registration in order to address handset theft.
Proof of identity issues are a major concern, as the majority of people in PNG live in rural areas and do not have written identification such as a drivers’ licence or passport. …
There may be a risk that vulnerable or socially marginalised people are excluded from the opportunity to own and use mobile phones. This policy could lead to an absence of two-way communication in disadvantaged communities in PNG. If the few active mobile phones in certain remote villages are cut off, this could have negative implications regarding time-critical emergency communication, such as for childbirth complications and natural disasters. Citizens in such places may need to overcome further hurdles in order to ensure that they are not left even further behind. (See for the full article)

No fees assistance program
January 12, 2018 Post Courier
The Enga provincial government’s flagship school free education sponsorship program will be hindered in 2018 due to the current economic situation in the country. The program has been a hallmark of Enga Governor Sir Peter Ipatas political leadership over the last 20 years, however, the education advocate says the current financial situation has affected this year’s rollout. On average the Enga provincial government assists around 400 of its students, annually, attending various tertiary institutions in the country. Also the onset of increase tuition fees in major universities like the University of Papua New Guinea has affected the situation. “It is a sad situation. The country doesn’t have money so when the national government doesn’t have money then it has a flow on effect where the provinces all don’t have money,” Sir Peter said. “So it will be very difficult for us to even sponsor. We normally make sacrifices from other grants to give priority to education but this time there is nothing on the table. “So I have sent word out to our province and told them that it looks like we have all got to dig deep as parents and relatives to pay for our kids.” “For my PSIP for the province we only received 1 million out of K5 million. That is how serious it is.

97 convicted of murder
January 15, 2018 The National
NINETY-SEVEN people have been convicted of murder and detained in the biggest trial in Papua New Guinea in recent years. They will appear again for a sentence hearing in the Madang National Court at a later date. All 97 were on Friday found guilty of killing seven people in Ramu Sugar in 2014 in what is believed to be one of the first convictions in a sorcery-related case. Judge David Cannings said the 97 were each arraigned on seven counts of wilful murder.
The State alleged that all were members of a group of about 189 males (120 adults and 69 juveniles) who marched together along public roads for at least 10km with faces painted warlike to Sakiko village with the intention of seeking out and killing sorcerers who were living there. “It was alleged that on their way to the village, some members of the group attacked and killed a bystander and intended to cause his death,” Cannings said. “The group then proceeded to the village and raided it, destroying properties, including houses and food gardens.” “They threatened and chased away many residents from that village, some members of the group attacked and killed six residents and intended to cause their deaths.”

50 prisoners, four wardens get TB due to overcrowding
January 15, 2018 The National
MORE than 50 prisoners and four wardens at the Buimo prison, in Lae, have contracted tuberculosis (TB) as a result of overcrowding, jail commander Supt Felix Namane says. He said the TB outbreak was affecting the main prison compound where remandees and high-risk prisoners were kept.
Namane said last Friday that about 700 prisoners were kept at the prison’s main compound. He said 52 of them have tested positive for TB. He said the group was part of a total of 986 prisoners currently held at the prison. Namane said the TB outbreak started some years back before he became jail commander. “Last year the number went up to 68 but we have managed to reduce it down to 52,” he said. “I have talked to the Morobe health people and they have agreed to come and visit the prison.
“I have been here for two years now but this sickness was here for some time. We are doing our best to manage it. “We work in a confined environment with little air and sunlight so it is quite risky when disease outbreaks such as this occur.”
He said a shortage of medicines at their clinic last August aided the spread of TB but the Catholic Church assisted the prison with drugs and they were able to contain it. Namane said that apart from TB, a dysentery outbreak last September resulted in the deaths of two inmates and the infection of 60 others who were taken to Angau Hospital for treatment. “Two died last year,” he said.

O’Neill wants churches to lead sorcery fight.
January 9, 2018The National
Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has called on churches to take the lead in the fight against sorcery accusations and violence against women in villages. O’Neill said the old mentality and belief in sorcery was affecting the nation in rural and urban areas. He said the most affected were always women and girls. O’Niell called on churches to lead in driving awareness in the villages because the government could not go there. “Our churches must identify solutions and address these social issues in our villages and communities, and address it through mission and the word of God,” he said.
“The church has an important role to play among our population by influencing people’s behaviour.”
He said the government was ready to work with churches to address sorcery and gender-based violence.

State focused on church partnership, says Basil
January 15, 2018 The National
Minister for Communications Information Technology and Energy Sam Basil on Friday reaffirmed the Government’s commitment to government-church partnership in the country to address sorcery accusations and gender-based violence. Speaking at the close of the 31st synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of PNG at Mogl village in Sinasina-Yongomugl, Chimbu, he highlighted the importance of the partnership in delivering much-needed services to the people. Opening the synod early last week, Prime Minister Peter O’Neill called on churches to take the lead in the fight against sorcery accusations and gender-based violence.
“Relatives of those who die naturally, or from illnesses, are finding ways to accuse people of sorcery.
“I am afraid they may capitalise on it to torture them.” Basil said instances of sorcery accusation and related torturing were common in both rural and urban areas. He challenged the church to take ownership of the issues and find ways to provide solutions.

Illegal gambling rife in parts of Highlands
Letters. Post Courier 16 Jan
Papua New Guinea needs a tougher law on the illegal hi-low game rife in the Highlands provinces.
This contributes to escalating law and order and illicit activities such as alcohol, homebrew, prostitution, robberies, pick-pocketing and stealing. The regulator, PNG National Gaming Control Board (NGCB) is turning a blind eye on the illicit activity that lures mostly school children, men and women to actively participate. Hard earned cash from daily sales or through savings are recklessly spent on gambling in the pretext of making huge profit for a day.
Western Highlands Yamka’s community leader Timbi Kagul said children mainly students are hi-low addicted followed by adult men and women. Mr Kagul said the illegal hi-low game is discouraging people from active agriculture and commercial farming or people are simply lazy to work in their garden. “People are playing hi-low to make quick bucks; it’s like free cash handouts but at the end of the day, they are wasting valuable time and effort associated with law and order problems where people steal from other people’s gardens and hi-low venues turn into brothels,” he said. He said illegal hi-low operators are smart people who establish strong networks and collaborated well with police to keep the game in operation. “Law enforcement agencies like police are being bribed, they are also recipients of proceeds from the hi-low game and not enforcing the law by arresting and charging the operators. “There is no control mechanism in place because police are part of the hi-low syndicate,” Mr Kagul claims. According to a research conducted recently, the illegal hi-low game is operating in the heart of Enga’s Wabag town opposite Wabag police station where Enga Provincial Police Commander’s office is followed by Porgera station, in Tari town, Kawi in the Western Highlands, Banz, Kundiawa, Goroka and Kainantu towns.

Female victims of violence filling up morgue at Angau hospital
January 16, 2018 The National
The Angau Memorial Hospital morgue has received more female bodies than male bodies over the past two years, according to a hospital staff. Morgue attendant Naru Koria said female deaths were related to domestic violence and other related issues. He said there was also an increase in the number of infant deaths during childbirth and the bodies were left in the morgue and the parents had then failed to claim them. “Some bodies are in the morgue for far too long and more are coming in every week so the morgue cannot hold the bodies,” he said.
Koria said there were two deep freezers and one cooler which have a holding capacity of 35 bodies each. “Now it is over that number and we are piling the bodies one on top of the other and that is not good,” he said. “Those who know that they have bodies of relatives still in the morgue must make an attempt to get them and do proper burials. “It is like sending someone to prison to serve their term in jail, so we have to take them out and make a proper burial for them in order to release them.”

Medical check can clear sorcery claim, says pastor
January 18, 2018 The National
THE Body of Christ is urging people to go for medical check-ups before accusing anyone of sorcery and resorting to violence. “When you are sick, first things first, go to the hospital to find out the cause of the sickness,” BOC deputy chairman Ps Michael Wilson, who is also a medical doctor, said.
“We want to release this to the nation right now that there may be sicknesses and through illness that you are going through you are saying that I may be poisoned or some sorcery thing is happening in my life. “The first thing you should do is go to the hospital and check whether you are sick or not.
“If you are proven sick then there is no need to go around thinking somebody has made sorcery on you or has done something wrong in you. “And that is the fear that is going around in the whole country.
“We have experienced people taking off from the hospital thinking that sorcery has been done on them. Even though they are under treatment they just take off.
“They say we are going home to fix something and I say what do you want to fix? And they say you don’t know, we are going to fix something and come back and I say to them you may never come back. “So this is something I want to truly release to the nation that if you are truly sick, don’t go around thinking you have been spat on or somebody has given you buai or somebody has given you lunch. Go to the hospital and get yourself checked and treated. “Secondly, if you have a suspicious mind as well, go to a pastor and have him pray over you. “Only the power of God will set you free.”

PNG’s informal economy is dreading the Year of the APEC
|PNG Informal Economist, 23 January 2018
PORT MORESBY – 2018 looks set to be a make or break year for Papua New Guinea as the country prepares to host the APEC summit in the midst of a looming economic crisis. The summit will be by far the biggest global event that PNG has hosted. Media reports say preparations are on track and PNG is set to deliver. Like a bride getting ready for wedding day, Port Moresby is buzzing with construction activities to uplift its image. While the country’s elite is planning to dazzle more than 10,000 delegates from 21 countries and hordes of journalists; a large proportion of PNG’s population who rely on informal economic activity for their daily sustenance fear the worst. Already observations on the ground are showing that police are stepping up a campaign to rid the city of street traders. Recently, Governor Powes Parkop announced he would re-introduce the ill-fated buai (betel nut) ban to clean up the rubbish created by its consumption. The addictive nut has a huge following (an average of one person in every household chews) and significant impact on the PNG economy but there is still no adequate policy to deal with the problems it creates. Women who make up a large proportion of the urban informal economy are already feeling the pinch. Another school year is about to begin, the country’s biggest market (at Gordons) is closed and the national economy is topsy-turvy. An already tough going is certain to get tougher for most of Port Moresby’s unemployed and struggling middle to average income earners who rely on the informal economy to supplement their fortnightly wages.
‘Hiding the informals’ is a storyline synonymous with our government hosting major events in recent times. For instance, before the Pacific Games informal economic activities were flushed out from streets, walkways, byways and various odd locations in the city as they were seen to be a blight to the visitors’ eyes. A few years ago, when Prince Charles visited Port Moresby to celebrate the Queen’s golden jubilee; the famous Erima candlelight market was forced into hiding to resurface once HRH left town. And now, even though the initial buai ban claimed lives, damaged property and deprived livelihoods of unemployed and struggling Port Moresby families, it is about to be re-introduced.
The law was meant to provide a balance between regulation and development of the informal economy. Unfortunately, the government has failed to undertake this obligation. Instead it has opted to impose bans or use police to stamp out these activities. Now a revised Informal Economy Development & Control Bill is awaiting government endorsement. The bill is a wonderful opportunity for the government to show visiting leaders and the world at large of PNG’s commitment towards addressing women’s empowerment. The government should immediately endorse and certify the bill to protect and support the countless women and working in the informal economy. These are people trying to put food on the table, pay school fees, buy lunch or pay medical bills.
The least we can do is to be honest and help them.

Push for minimum wage hike.
Post Courier, January 24, 2018
Workers in PNG will be demanding a 43 per cent increase in minimum wages from the current K3.50 per hour to K5.00 per hour.
Congress general secretary John Paska said the new rate when awarded will directly inject K500 million into the domestic economy. “That’s the economic power of wages that drives the economy,” Mr Paska said. “Alternatively if it is not awarded, businesses which are foreign dominated will siphon it out of the country – simple as that. He said despite being the biggest economy in the Pacific PNG lagged behind the smaller regional nations in minimum wages.
Mr Paska said formal sector workers comprise 10 per cent of the national population, however their value to the national economy is staggering. “Tax receipts to the national revenue is K3 billion by comparison to business tax receipts of K2 billion,” he said. He said workers’ superannuation funds in Nasfund and Nambawan Super combined net asset value was about K12 billion. In addition, bank deposits, savings and loan, insurance, micro finance and other schemes and assets are all inundated with workers money.

Justice is a right for all and everyone
Post Courier, Letters 24 Jan.
Just last week in Goroka, a female employee of an Asian shop was ordered by the owner to do a thorough body check. The body check was done by a female Asian woman. The body check was done in an inappropriate manner. The Papua New Guinea woman employed by the Asian shop was accused of stealing some cash. At first a check was done from the security cameras that revealed nothing. Then the body check followed also revealing nothing. Sadly the traumatised woman was not released she was threatened by the Asian shop owner that she would be arrested and charged after going through two different methods of search with no proof of stealling. She was detained in their custody at that Asian shop until 7.45 pm and released. After being found out that she did not take any money whatsoever, she had to walk a long distance braving incidents that might happen to her as she walked alone that night. She arrived home at 8.30pm. While all this was going on, her baby back at the house was suffering from hunger and deprived of breastfeeding.
Hence this case was promptly reported to the police to handle on Thursday 18/01/2018.
An officer on duty that day who handled this case was ordered by a senior officer who arrived in a white ten seater LandCruiser to drop the case. Our guess is the superior officer may have been in contact with the Asian shop owner concerned. This incident leaves us questioning and gives the impression that this is a common scenario throuhout the country where justice is not served when necessary. More importantly women and youth are victims of such behavior and incidently, another female employee faced the same mistreatment prior to this case.
Aponegita Mota, Goroka

Rapist taunts the law
Post Courier, January 3, 2018
A series of posts on a convicted rapist’s Facebook account have revealed a shocking truth about how wealthy criminals have been exploiting a provision in the Correctional Services Act to enjoy freedom while simultaneously serving their sentences. Paul Pisa, who was jailed for 15 years for the rape of a 14-year-old girl, was arrested by Port Moresby police last Thursday after he was sighted outside the Waigani National Court building by the primary witness in his trial. This is not the first time that convicted criminals have been sighted walking the streets and in nightclubs and hotels throughout the city in civilian clothes and without the supervision of Correctional Services warders. During the past six months, Post-Courier has also received confirmed sightings of many high-profile criminals, including disgraced former Western governor Ati Wobiro, former Laigaip-Porgera MP Philip Kikala, businessman Eremas Wartoto and death row convict Arua Maraga Hariki (the fifth person in PNG to be sentenced to death on two counts of first degree murder in 2011). After a brief interrogation, police found that Pisa had been granted a leave of absence (LOA) from Bomana jail in order to receive medical treatment at Pacific International Hospital (PIH); his LOA lasted about seven months until he was arrested. This was confirmed by a series of posts made on Pisa’s Facebook account, dating back as far as July 26, 2017, which was only 20 days after he was convicted on July 6 last year.
Mother of the victim in Pisa’s trial, told Post-Courier that she was shocked and disgusted to see the man who had been the source of so much pain and suffering for her family walking free after being convicted. “I am very upset that the court system can be manipulated by people who have money. Those who cannot afford to bribe are locked behind bars. “They don’t have the luxury to come for medical treatment and they cannot do what these people can do. Those who have the money are able to get out of Bomana under the pretext of being sick and once in hospital, they have the freedom to go wherever they want,” she said.

Fed up with atrocities related to sorcery
Letters. Post Courier, 9 Jan
I write because am fed up with atrocities like this, “Tortured –Woman accused of practicing sorcery” recently in the papers- and similar happenings across PNG.
And what about the arrest of the child abusers who attempted to burn and torture the girl whose mother was murdered, in Enga?
May I appeal to the leaders of the country (PM included) to make a public statement on where we stand on this issue that continues to make front page – whether PNG is for or against it? Parliament has a treasured Holy Bible which reiterates all citizens , including offenders, victims, witnesses, police officers or public servants do not have the power to kill but only the Courts. No one is above that law !
Death penalty must be investigated by the courts, to apply to the perpetrators who afflict death on innocent persons, and this needs to be addressed aggressively.
We need to understand also that we have gross poverty in many settings, which is a huge factor, to many avoidable diseases and medical complications, for all ages and gender, yet we keep on blaming each other. Our lifestyles are a major cause to our own demise, and that to help prevent such experiences we need to start addressing poverty. Alois Nomenda, POM

Families Hit Hard by Price Increase.
Since forming government in 2017, the National Government has organised to increase prices on 918 items. These price increases will start coming through early in the new year. A government more in touch with the high cost of living facing our people would not deliberately increase prices that mainly suited their business besties” said the Shadow Minister for Treasury and Finance, Ian Ling-Stuckey.
“The biggest negative impact will be on family food budgets. There have been a massive set of price increases facing families – 518 areas where family food budgets will face increases. The major ones are the 25% increase in milk products, the huge jump in chicken prices of K1.70 per kilo (and this the wholesale price, so the retail price may increase by even more),15% increases in a range of fish products and juice concentrates, and the 60 toea per dozen increase in egg prices. 56% of the tariff increases focus on the struggling food budgets of PNG families. PNG families deserve to be able to feed their children without these massive and widespread price increases” said the Shadow Treasurer.
“There will also be major increases in the costs facing families and businesses in their costs of travel. The increase in diesel excise by 13 toea per litre – and the government plans to increase it by a further 38 toea per litre in future budgets. On top of this is an increase in all imported petrol and diesel of 10 toea per litre. Experience indicates this will eventually be passed onto motorists as the reduced competition almost always leads to price increases.
“There are major increases in 47 types of family household products such as 15% increase in the costs of laundry detergents, plastic kitchenware, buckets and tableware, as well as 10% increases ranging from toilet paper to shampoos and tissues and tablecloths and detergents.
“The government also doesn’t understand how expensive it is to build a new house in PNG, or renovate one and there are major increases in the costs of building products. Some of these particularly concern me. For example, PNG has the poorest levels of access to safe water in the East Asia region according to the World Bank. So why does the government increase the wholesale price on imported plastic water tanks by 15%? Families on many of our island communities in kavieng & namatanai and in all other maritime provinces do not have year-round access to enough clean water. During the dry season from april to October, which is over half the year, we fetch water from holes dug into the beach shoreline many of which are not accessible during daily high tides and we regularly bath in salt water! This is how we still live today. Access to affordable short term solutions like plastic water tanks will be taken away with the 15% tariff increase. Why are my maritime people punished like this? ” asked Mr Ling-Stuckey.

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For Justice. For an end to gender violence. It’s our responsibility

Friday 17 November a six year old Papua New Guinean child was tortured, sustaining wounds and burns all over her body. This child is the daughter of Leniata Kepari. In 2013, Leniata was burned to death by a mob in the Highlands after she was accused of practicing witchcraft and sorcery.The mob that burned Leniata to death has never been charged for her murder. Her death caused international exposure and a global uproar. Women across the Pacific and around the world came together to fight for gender equality and protest against gender based violence. Leniata’s death introduced the new term ‘accusation based violence’ in PNG. The country mourned her death. There were marches and campaigns around the world. We had had enough and we shouted “no more”!

And in true Melanesian spirit we sobbed and we wept. We lit candles and had 24 hour vigils to commemorate a woman that no-one knew.She was our sister, our mother, our daughter. She was our wife our neighbour and our friend. So we shed tears genuine tears. Leniata’s death was mourned. And we also mourned another death – the death of moral values, principles and ideals.

This ignited a passion to make change. There were new policies, programs and initiatives to protecting the women and children of Papua New Guinea. But despite attempts to make progress, all our hard work seemed meaningless on 17 November 2017.The horrendous abuse inflicted on this small child is unspeakable. I sat in disbelief for almost a week trying to figure out how this could have been. How did we let this happen? I say “we” and I say “ours” because it is our duty of care and our responsibility as a group of citizens and countrymen and women to ensure that the next generation is protected. We cried and marched for this child’s mother. We as a nation made public oaths to end the violence.

The irony is chilling that three years after her mother’s death, this six year old child has been blamed for witchcraft and sorcery. She was accused of inheriting her mother’s sanguma powers. Thankfully Leniata’s daughter survived but Justice is yet to be served. This little girl’s name and her face have been protected. So she has been officially nicknamed ‘Justice’. There is hope for Justice.

The majority of Papua New Guineans do not accept this behaviour nor do we condone these acts. This is not the Papua New Guinean way. Do we have a problem with gender based violence? Yes. But so does the rest of the world. There is an issue with gender based violence throughout the Pacific. But before we address the faults of our neighbours, we need to fix the problem at home.

This issue is prevalent because of our inaction and lack of education, policies and awareness. This is changing. However the change is a slow, frustrating process. I suppose slow change is better than no change. But at what cost? How many torturous acts are unreported? Will recent events hopefully reignite a passion for change? One can only hope. We hope for change, we pray for change and we cry for change.

We the people both at home and abroad need to pick up our game. Raise the bar. All our attempts to raise awareness on the internet mean nothing if we don’t take the resources and the message beyond the confines of our own home. Let’s defend the weak. Let’s shine a light in the darkness. You want to see an end to gender based violence and accusation based violence? Then end it!

(See the url above for the full article)

Expert: PNG has best constitution on Human Rights

Post Courier November 27, 2017

An international human rights expert has singled out Papua New Guinea’s constitution as one of the best in the world in terms of its emphasis on protecting human rights. It is even better than Australia’s, but the challenge is on its enforcement, says human rights lawyer Dr Carolyn Graydon. “PNG is blessed with a wonderful legal system. It’s a rights-based and a very empowering constitution,” Dr Graydon, said.

Apart from the Constitution, she also praised the country for undertaking many efforts in terms of domestic laws and policies to protect particular groups like victims of family and gender-based violence and sexual violence, and children through juvenile and child protection laws.

However, despite PNG already having the legal tools to create a society that was strong on human rights, it had been bombarded with many human rights abuses including domestic, sexual, gender-based, and sorcery-related violence at the backdrop of a seeming breakdown of trust, and observance, or ignorance of the law and the justice system.

Critical issues for discussion between Bougainville & PNG

BUKA – The long deferred Joint Supervisory Body (JSB) meeting which brings together the Autonomous Bougainville Government and the Papua New Guinea national government has been scheduled for 14-15 December.

Dr Momis stated there are many matters requiring the support and agreement of the PNG government. He said the two governments needed to reach agreement on the question or questions to be put to the people of Bougainville at the referendum. The meeting will also discuss criteria that will apply to non-resident Bougainvilleans voting in the referendum. Another key matter the JSB will address is the failure by the PNG government to honour its constitutional obligations to make outstanding payments under the restoration development grant. “By our estimates we are now owed more than K900 million and by the national government’s estimates more than K360 million,” Dr Momis said. “The ABG is also owed significant arrears under the special intervention fund that should have seen a total of K500 million approved for high impact development projects. “Only K299 million has been received with a shortfall of K201 million,” he said. Other key issues include reviews of autonomy arrangements, peace building efforts, weapons disposal, fishing revenues and the continued drawdown of powers and functions.

Prison food supplies running low

November 27, 2017 The National

PORT Moresby Metropolitan Superintendent Perou N’Dranou is concerned that the food ration to feed people locked in cells has run out. He said that as Christmas was approaching, crime rates were increasing and more people were being arrested. “I was recently told that the accounts had already closed and we do not have money to buy food to feed people that we keep in custody,” N’Dranou said. He said the police cells were also running out of space and they could not continue to arrest people. He said the public were complaining about police brutality and the discipline level of police officers on their daily policing routines.
“Well, sometimes situations like lack of papers to take down reports, not enough space in the cells to keep the law offenders, not enough food to feed them, not enough fuel in our vehicles and not enough vehicles and manpower to be everywhere in the city at once to respond to crimes and complaints, happen.” N’Dranou said for those reasons police officers had to go out of their way to at least use force as a deterrent to control crime in the city.

Large Scale Frauds
The Supreme Court has issued a stunning indictment of large-scale resource extraction projects in PNG, labelling them as ‘large scale frauds committed against the true and correct landowners’ in a judgement delivered on September 25. The Court singled out the PNG LNG project for special mention as one where the State and the ‘developers’ have failed to obtain free and informed consent and a social licence for their operations. The case before the Court concerned trespass and illegal use of customary land by logging giant Rimbunan Hijau, and the court endorsed an earlier award of damages of more than K6 million against the company.

But the Supreme Court decision goes much further in its examination of the issues of social licence and consent and concludes that many landowners around PNG are entitled to compensation from mining, logging and oil and gas companies for the ‘illegal entry, occupation and conduct of their businesses’. What happened here is in fact a sad story that is repeated throughout the country over a long period of time from the colonial administration in the name of opening up wild frontiers for various so called developments and projects. The so called projects and development covers from logging, prospecting for minerals and oil and gas to actual mining, to oil and gas developments to other customary land base developments like the famous or infamous Special Agriculture Business Development Leases (SABLs). What is happening in most cases is that, developers and the State alike are failing to either deliberately or by inadvertence to first ascertain, then properly organise, empower and deal with the properly identified and confirmed customary land owners.

(See the url above for the full article)

Ribat: HIV cases up by 10,000

December 4, 2017The National

ABOUT 46,500 people, an increase of nearly 10,000 in two years, are living with HIV, according to Cardinal Sir John Ribat. “In 2016 it was estimated that there were fewer than 3000 new infections of which nearly a quarter were children and youths,” he said during the World AIDS Day on Friday.
Cardinal Ribat, who is chairman of Christian Leaders Alliance against HIV/AIDS, said AIDS epidemic was alarming because out of the 3000 new infections, 750 were children and adolescents.
Cardinal Ribat said the increase of the number of people getting infected was also alarming because it was a threat to the future of the country. “We need to think about our children and youths if we are worried about the future of this country,” he said. “Many innocent babies, children and adolescents, young adults and parents have been affected and have died as a result of the disease since 1987.
“In the past year, it was estimated that more than 1500 people died from AIDS-related illness in 2015.”


K3.2m child protection policy stopped.

December 7, 2017

The government’s child protection effort that started this year has derailed less than a year into its operation. According to 2018 Budget books, the Child Protection project under the Integrated Community Development Scheme of the Department of Religion, Youth and Community Development has ceased operations because of funding. Tabled in the “2018 Budget estimates of Revenue and Expenditure”, which was released during the November Budget session, K3.2 million was afforded to a mysterious child protection project. Efforts to find traces of tangible outcomes of this multimillion kina child protection project were in vain, but it was gleaned from the expenditure report that the sole project was funded by a donor agency in collaboration with the government.

It was confirmed that the Australian Agency for International Development provided funds for this ad hoc project that tackled a rather vital societal issue, but that funding ceased due to the lack of government drive.

While the now discontinued child protection project was a foreign initiative both financially and operationally, it would seem the government of the day did not taken heed of community deficiency indicators to do with childcare and protection.


Government owes K3.5million to schools.

Post Courier, December 11, 2017

The Government owes schools K2.5 million in outstanding tuition fees for this year.

This was revealed by Education Secretary Dr Uke Kombra, on Friday in a meeting attended by grade 11 selectors in Port Moresby. Of the K602 million budgeted for tuition fee free policy for 2017, schools were yet to receive the balance of K2.5 million as the academic year closed last week.

Dr Kombra said the reason for the outstanding was the difficult economic situation the country was facing. This news was not welcomed by principals of high and secondary schools during the meeting.

Many queried the policy and demanded a more transparent audit of the fees.

Troubled Papua New Guinea deep-sea mine faces environmental challenge

A controversial experimental deep-sea mine is being challenged in court by environmental groups who have accused the Papua New Guinea government of withholding key documents about its approval.   Nautilus Minerals Inc, a Canada-based company primarily owned by Russian and Omani mining firms, wants to extract gold and copper deposits from 1.5km below the surface of the Bismarck Sea, using a seabed mining technique never before used in commercial operations…. Members of nearby communities, represented by the port Moresby-based Centre for Environmental law and Community Rights Inc (Celcor), claim they were not adequately consulted and that they hold grave concerns over its impact.  There are also concerns over its financial viability and the PNG government’s stake in it.


Detainees at Jomba cell eat once a day

December 13, 2017The National

DETAINEES in the Jomba Police Station cells in Madang ate just once a day – at 7pm, according to former detainee Michael Tataki. He was released on Friday and said Justice David Cannings’ damning report of the treatment of detainees there was a “godsent”. The report said the cells had four toilets for men, women and juveniles but only one worked and able to be used. However, Tataki said detainees barely used the toilets as they did not have food. “What is there for us to release when some of us don’t eat at all and some don’t eat enough,” he said. Tataki said the detainees ate at 7pm each day and stayed hungry for the rest of the time. He said some detainees were bullied over their share of food by other detainees, which meant the weaker ones did not eat for days.

Wages promised to health workers not paid for four months

December 13, 2017 The National

THE government has promised to pay this week the salaries of health workers serving in church-run health facilities who have not been paid in the past four months. Health and HIV/Aids Minister Sir Puka Temu blamed the country’s cash flow problem. The non-payment of staff was a serious issue which the government must resolve, said Catholic Bishops Conference of PNG and the Solomon Islands general-secretary Father Victor Roche and Cardinal Sir John Ribat yesterday as they raised their concerns. Cardinal Ribat said it did not only concern Catholic health workers but also other church health workers around the country.
Cardinal Ribat said health centres and hospitals run by churches were using their reserve funds to pay for the salaries “in the hope that the government will release their salaries”. Fr Roche said several attempts had been made to discuss the matter with the Health Department. “The Government is paying the salaries for health workers of government-run health services and not the church-run health services,” he said. “They are doing this with the hope that churches will be able to sustain themselves. But this is totally not correct.”


Another Christmas without closure to the Street Children Issue.

Post Courier, December 18, 2017

Another Christmas is here and while many enjoy the festivities a few misunderstood members of society continue to wonder the streets lost, seemingly forgotten by their government. The issue of street kids loitering in urban public areas is not a new thing and yet in light of this fact, the government has seemingly turned a blind eye on the matter. The societal and ethically inclined question of, ‘What to do with these street roaming children’ has haunted successive governments since independence and while there is much talk of advancement and developmental successes, there is little in the way of closure to this plight.

The PNG government has done a stellar job in increasing its spending over the past two years in trying to deal with this issue, having jolted the K288,500 for the Lukautim Pikinini Office in 2016 to K604,300 this year with a slightly increased K629,800 planned for 2018. However, these government funds and other financed initiatives have a long way to go in actually rooting out the cause of the increasing number of street-roaming children in urban areas like Port Moresby, Lae and Madang.

A growing number of non-profit entities like Life PNG Care, UNICEF and UNDP are driving programmes specifically designed to tackle the woes of street children, but the government will have to be more proactive in its attempts to end this problem.

Child protection efforts ineffective

Letters   19th December Post Courier

Firstly, let me share my personal view regarding our child protection systems and processes here which the government must consider. Papua New Guinea Child Protection system is ineffective.

There is no entity to coordinate all services and to strengthen formal and informal protection systems.

The issue here is the lack of or non-existence of the Lukautim Pikinini Council which should be established under Section 16 Division 03 of the Lukautim Pikinini Act 2015. The council will be tasked to monitor the implementation of this act and to prevent and respond to violence issues and children in need of protection and care. The council will also make provisions of services and to foster collaboration among all state actors and key stakeholders. The non-existence of this council has seen many children being abandoned right after delivery in hospital, in homes, in the bush on the streets or dumped infants.

We appreciate the work by community-based organisations, faith-based organisations, international organisations, and individuals who, without support from the government, look after street kids or provide necessary services to children in need of protection and help strengthen capacity building of families and communities. It is now for the minister responsible and the Department for Community Development and office of Lukautim Pikinini and family services to fasttrack the Lukautim Pikinini Act 2015 regulations and policy frame work for the implementation of the Act.


 PNG’s role in facilitating climate change dialogue
By Kylie McKenna on Dec 19, 2017 06:00 am DevPolicyBlog.

The Government of Papua New Guinea (PNG) has vowed to use its hosting status of the 2018 Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit to put climate change at the forefront of the regional agenda. The move supports broader attempts by Pacific Island leaders to take a lead role on climate change. This includes calls to halt Australia’s Adani coal mine and Fiji’s co-hosting of the UN Climate Change Conference (COP23) in Germany, dubbed “the Islands COP”.

PNG has good reason to take a leadership role in facilitating dialogue on climate change. A recent Caritas report found that in 2017 alone, 2000 households across 30-35 coastal communities in PNG were displaced by rising sea levels, flooding, and erosion.

A major challenge facing Papua New Guinea is how to generate economic development while preventing further environmental damage. With almost 40% of the population living below the national poverty line, opportunities to pursue economic development and supporting infrastructure are highly sought-after. The PNG Government’s support for large scale development projects (e.g. mining and gas), could be perceived as being at odds with its recent commitments to facilitating regional dialogue on climate change. Many communities across Papua New Guinea have already experienced the negative social and environmental costs of large development projects. The impact of the minerals and energy sector in particular is well documented, including high profile cases of environmental disaster (Ok Tedi), armed conflict (Panguna) and human rights violations (Porgera).


What next for Papua New Guinea.

It has been a tumultuous year for Australia’s nearest neighbour. (For this lengthy article, follow the url above.)


Cash Flow affects ordinary citizens

Post Courier December 29, 2017

The cash flow problem in the country is seriously affecting the lives of the small people, random interviews among citizens have revealed. This reporter who spoke to grassroots citizens indicated to him that unlike in the past, the economic situation in the country is starting to have impacts on them reducing their buying power with the rise in the prices of goods. Several street vendors revealed that in the past they earned up with about K500 daily on average by selling their products including betel nut, smoke, and garden food but that has dropped dramatically as less people buy things from them unlike in the past. Two street side vendors at Lawes Road Carolyn Pere and Freda Charles said a lot of people are now purchasing their things on credit and pay up only during fortnights. They said they cannot sell out their fast selling items like betel nut or smoke as many people lack enough cash and their daily intakes have been affected. “We do not know if that is happening to others as well but we can really see it now that there is no cash-flow. When working people have money, seeing the cash-flow but we can see a different trend now. They come and get things on credit to be paid over a fortnight while cash borrowed even take longer to be repaid. This is unusual for us small street vendors who deal with cash every day and use part of the day’s taking to buy food for the house and bus fares for our children,” they said.


Trivedy – Proper Budget Execution must be Focus of Govt in New Year

Post Courier, December 28, 2017

The United Nation’s Resident Coordinator says that Budget execution should be the focus for PNG’s government going into to New Year. Also, the United Nations Development Programme’s Papua New Guinea country officer Mr Roy Trivedy told the media recently that the 2018 Budget was the best he has seen since coming into the country but that these figures must translate to tangible outcomes. He said that going into 2018, the government had to now focus on ensuring that the respective Budget allocated funds are dispensed for their intended service delivery targets on time.

“From past experience, very little of the funds that are in the budget are actually released on time, very few second tranche payments are made on time…so you come to the end of the year and realize that most of the Budget has not been drawn down,” said Mr Trivedy.

He said that this whole issue is something that must be fixed. “If we don’t use the Budget in its entirety and don’t execute it properly, then, of course, you are constantly going to miss your service delivery targets,” the UNDP country officer said.

Mr Trivedy said that only around 40 to 60 percent of earmarked funds are delivered at the end of each National Budgetary period in PNG and that as such, you can only expect each percentage of service delivery goals to be achieved.

Correctional Services Statistics For 2017

Post Courier 29 December

More than 230 prisoners are spending Christmas, and possibly New Year, on the run after escaping from 16 jails throughout this year. Statistics provided by the Correctional Services (CS) yesterday showed that 232 prisoners are still at large, the highest number are from Buimo jail in Lae, Morobe prison followed closely by Boram, East Sepik Province) and Buiebi, Southern Highlands Province.

Correctional Services commissioner Michael Waipo said the reports of the breakout from Biru in Northern Province and Buimo a week ago has yet to reach his office.

According to the statistics, only Beon in Madang Province, Bundaira in Eastern Highlands Province and Kavieng in New Ireland Province did not record any breakouts this year.

This year alone, 295 prisoners – 109 convicted criminals and 186 remandees, nationwide escaped – 63 were recaptured and 232 are still at large.

Of the major breaks this year, the first was reported on January 1, when 29 escaped from Boram jail. Two were shot dead, 10 injured and recaptured while 17 are still at large.

On February 1, five prisoners escaped from Buimo jail. Two were killed while three are still at large.

On February 2, 14 prisoners dashed for freedom at Buiebi jail. They are still at large.

On May 12, PNG recorded its biggest jail break when 77 prisoners escaped out of Buimo jail. Seventeen were shot dead, three were recaptured and 57 are still at large.

Last month, 41 prisoners escaped from Kerevat jail, East New Britain Province, during a heavy downpour in the area. 19 voluntarily surrendered, two recaptured by the police and the remaining 20 still on the run.

This month 17 prisoners escaped from Biru jail in Northern Province. They made a break for the gate after cutting a hole in the fence.

A few days later 16 prisoners dashed for freedom at Buimo. While four were wounded and recaptured, 12 are still on the run.

The number on death row has been reduced from 14 inmates to 12 following the commuting of sentences on two prisoners earlier this month.

The 12 prisoners are scattered throughout various jails in the country.

The inmates are Gregory Klapkot, 41, Lokanai, New Ireland, murder and sea piracy, convicted July 2011; Martin Pigi, 39, New Ireland Province, murder and sea piracy, convicted July 2011; Peter Taul, 39, Pilapila, East New Britain, murder and sea piracy, convicted July 2011; Ambose Lati, 49, Wabag, Enga Province, murder, convicted 2009; Tobung Paraide, 43, Pilapila, East New Britain, murder and sea piracy, July 2011; Bochea Agena, 44, Duke of York Islands, East New Britain, murder and sea piracy, July 2011; Kenny Wesley, 38, Duke of York Islands, murder and sea piracy, July 2011; Sedoki Lota, 21, Milne Bay, murder, 2007; Mark Poroll, 33, Koroba, Southern Highlands, murder; and Keith Lasi Aira for the hacking to death of four Chinese nationals in Port Moresby in 2013. Ben Simakot Simbu, 31, from Yangkok in West Sepik Province, rape and wilful murder (recaptured at Gerehu, March 2017) and Kepak Langa of Sangurap in Wabag, Enga Province.

A father and son Selman Amos, 64, and Misialis Amos from Kait, Konoagil, New Ireland, were both charged with for the murder of three people near the Tokua Airport in Kokopo were freed in Kokopo earlier this month.


Stolen ambulance poses birth risks

December 29, 2017The National

Mothers in the remote Muli sub district in Ialibu-Pangia electorate of Southern Highlands are giving birth in their villagers after the sub health centre’s ambulance was stolen recently. Health extension officer Alphonse Sambai said that many mothers were now giving birth in their villages because there was no ambulance to bring them to the district hospital. “The sub health centre serves many people in the surrounding areas especially remote areas,” he said. “The ambulance was used to transport pregnant women and sick people from their remote villages to the sub health centre and was also used to transfer patients to bigger hospitals like Ialibu Hospital and Mendi General Hospital.”
“This is the second time for an ambulance to be stolen in the area; first an ambulance from the Ialibu hospital was stolen and now the ambulance for the Muli sub-health centre,” he said.
“I don’t know why people would steal an ambulance that saves lives and helps people.
“These are sick-minded people who steal ambulances.”


Pas i go long peris bot

Catholic Mission Pompbus

4 Oct, 2017

Letter to the parish board

Catholic Mission Pompabus

4 Oct, 2017


As tingting:  Kukim meri klostu long Pompabus stesin

Theme: Burning women near Pompabus mission station.

Taim mi harim olsem ol i kukim tupela meri ol i akusim long sanguma, mi no amamas.  Katolik Sios long Wabag daiosis i trai hat long mekim awenes long ol giaman akusesen long sanguma na bagarapim laip bilong narapela, espesili ol meri i no gat inap strong na pawa long dipendim ol yet.  Long akusim na kukim ol meri, em mak bilong tanim man i go olsem animal o longlong.

When I heard that they burned two women accused of sanguma witchcraft I was upset. The Catholic Church of Wabag Diocese has tried hard to raise awareness about false witchcraft accusations and destroying the lives of others, especially vulnerable woman who cannot defend themselves.  Accusing and burning woman is a sign of insane and animal-like behavior.

Olgeta kaikain sik na dai i gat as o kos bilong em.  Dokta na Nes inap givim ansa long kos bilong ol dispel sik na dai.  Kainkain binatang o gem i kamapim ol dispel sik na dai save kamap.  Marasin i ken pait wantaim ol dispel sik na ol sik i ken kamap orait.

Every illness and death has a reason or cause.  Doctors and nurses can provide an explanation as to the cause of sickness and death.  Microbes or germs cause sickness and death.  Medicine can counter such illness so sick people can recover.

Nupela we dai i kamap em long eksiden o long pait.  Eksiden i ken kamapim dai na tu long pait wanpela i kilim narapela long bonara, gan, ston, bus naip, kain olsem.  Narapela we long painim indai em long poisin.  Satan i no kilim man o kaikai man.  God i givim laip God yet i kisim laip.

There are new causes of death such as accidents or tribal fights.  Accidents can cause death and in fights one can kill another with bow and arrow, gun, stone, bushknife and such like. Another way to die is through poison. Satan does not kill or eat people. God gives life and God takes life back.

Satan i no amamas long Jisas na i laik bai em dai tasol satan yet i no inap pinisim laip bilong em.  Em i yusim ol man long kilim Jisas.  Na ol man i yusim ol samting long pinisim laip bilong em.  Laip i save pinis olsem tasol.  I no inap long wanpela i pulim lewa nating na kaikai.  Yumi manmeri i gat save na kru long het i ken skelim na save long dispel samting.

Satan hated Jesus and wanted him to die but Satan was not able to end his life. Satan used men to kill Jesus. Men used various means to end his life. Life ends like that. A person cannot remove another persons heart and eat it. We have brains in our heads so that we can judge in matters like this.

Mipela kisten i bilip long Jisas Krais na redi long bihainim Gut Nius bilong em.  Taim mipela baptais mipela i autim bilip na redi long bihainim em na taboo tru long bihainim Satan na Sanguma.  Traim bilong Satan na Sanguma pasin i no stretpela o gutpela   Em bilong bagarapim laip tasol na tu long kilim laip na kamapim tudak na dai tasol.

We Christians believe in Jesus Christ and are ready to follow his Good News. When we were baptized we professed our faith and promised to follow him and to totally avoid Satan and Sanguma. The temptation of Satan and Sanguma are not good. It destroys life and just brings about darkness and death.

Mi save tok strong long no ken bihainim sanguma pasin na bagarapim laip bilong narapela.  Long dispel kukim na daia bilong tupela meri klostu long Pompabus stesin, sapos sampela Katolik i tek part long o lukluk i stap na i no mekim wanpela samting long stopim na helpim tupela i kisim bagarap long paia, pen, na dai, yu ronawe olsem ol aposel i lusim Jisas na haitim bilip bilong ol.  Yu kamap poroman bilong sanguma so wai na yu pren na poroman bilong Jisas na Katolik Sios.

I demand that you must not follow the sanguma custom and destroy the lives of others.  Regarding the burning and death of two women near Pompabus station, if any Catholics took part or simply witnessed it and did nothing to stop the torture of the two women who were experiencing pain and death, you ran away like the apostles ran away from Jesus and concealed their faith.  You become an accomplice of sanguma so how can you be a friend and disciple of Jesus and the Catholic Church.

Sapos yu pilim olsem yu no gat pawa long stopim dispela birua bikos yu pret na no gat strong na sapot orait yu ken lusim komunio na stap inap peris pris na peris bod i ting yu stap inap pinis.  Yu mas mekim bipela wok penens na konpes bai yu no bilip long sanguma mo bipo long yu kam bek gen.

If you feel that you have no way to stop this evil because you are afraid and you are powerless, then you cannot receive communion and you must remain like that until the parish priest and parish board tell you that it can stop. You must do serious penance and confess that you do not believe any more in sanguma before you can come back again to the church.

Tenkyu long harim bilong yupela

Rev. Arnold Orowae

Bishop bilong Wabag.

Thankyou for listening.  Rev. Arnold Orowae, Bishop of Wabag




Land area 461,937 km2
Marine jurisdiction 3.1 million km2
Population 8.251 million (est) [1]
Population growth rate 3.1% (2015)
Human Development Index 0.516 (2015), ranked 154 out of 188 countries [2]
GDP US$ 21.2 billion (2015) [3]
GDP growth rate 2.5% (2017) [4]
GDP per capita US$ 2,745 (2015) [5]
Structure of economy (top 5) Extractive industry: 24%;
Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing: 18%;
Retail trade: 10%;
Construction: 8%;
Administrative and Support services: 7% (2016) [6]
Composition of exports (top 5) LNG: 33%;
Gold: 27%;
Agricultural, marine and other non-mineral: 12%;
Oil/petroleum: 8%;
Nickel/copper/cobalt: 8% (2016) [7]
Poverty (Basic Needs Poverty) 39.9% (2009) [8]
Employment 61.6% (2009) [9]
Infant Mortality Rate 58/1,000 (2009) [10]
Maternal Mortality Rate 733/100,000 (2009) [11]
HIV/AIDS Prevalence Rate 0.8% (2015) [12]
Gender Inequality Index 0.595 (2015), ranked 143 out of 157 countries [13]
Women in Parliament 0 (2017, decreased from 3 in 2012 elections)
Primary enrolment rate 50.9% (net 2009) [14]
Secondary enrolment rate 28.1% (net 2009) [15]
Access to potable water 25.8% (2009)


[1] United Nations, World Population Prospects 2017, UN Population Division estimates,

[2] United Nations Development Program, Human Development 2016: Human Development for Everyone, (2016),

[3] International Monetary Fund, Papua New Guinea Article IV Consultation, January 2017,

[4] Asian Development Bank, Pacific Economic Monitor, July 2017,

[5] International Monetary Fund, Papua New Guinea Article IV Consultation, January 2017.

[6] Papua New Guinea Treasury, 2017 National Budget Volume 1: Economic and Development Policies, PNG Treasury (November 2016),

[7] Bank of Papua New Guinea, Quarterly Economic Bulletin December 2016 (May 2017),

[8] Papua New Guinea National Statistics Office, Household Income and Expenditure Survey 2009/10 (2011).

[9] Ibid.

[10] United Nations Development Program, Papua New Guinea National Human Development Report 2014,

[11] Ibid.

[12] World Bank, World Bank Databank, World Bank (2017),

[13] United Nations Development Program, Human Development 2016: Human Development for Everyone (2016),

[14] Papua New Guinea National Statistics Office, Household Income and Expenditure Survey 2009/10.

[15] Ibid.

[16] Ibid.

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Social Concerns Notes – November 2017

Govt team exposes 168 foreign-owned businesses in NCD

October 30, 2017The National

A GOVERNMENT team has exposed 168 foreign-owned businesses in Port Moresby reserved for locals. Immigration, Border and Security Minister  Petrus Thomas said some were even setting up trade stores in residential areas in the suburbs, settlements and villages. “They register to do business in commercial areas. But they end up doing business in residential areas,” he said. “They also operate filthy and unhygienic eateries, do not bank their takings, don’t accept worn-out or slightly damaged kina notes.” Thomas said some were paying local staff below the K3.50 minimum wage rate, did not pay superannuation, married local women as a front to start their business before removing them without notice.
“We are not discouraging foreigners to come and do business here. But they must follow the laws of PNG and not do business illegally. We will not allow that to happen in PNG,” Thomas said.


Parkop wants committee to do more to end violence

October 31, 2017 The National

National Capital District Governor Powes Parkop is far from happy that of the 414 reported gender-based violence cases since April last year, only two perpetrators have been convicted. Reacting to statistics of the National Capital District Family and Sexual Violence Action Committee Secretariat yesterday, Parkop said: “From the statistics that you have given me, only two perpetrators where convicted, why are the others getting away?”
Parkop noted that most of the perpetrators were males and urged the secretariat to look into putting an end to the violence instead of providing services year in year out. According to the statistics of active cases, two perpetrators were referred to support services for counselling, 22 survivors received interim protection orders, six survivors received permanent protection order, 21 survivors withdrew their cases and six cases were pending.
GBV Rate Increasing

November 1, 2017. Post Courier

October is internationally selected to advocate against domestic violence. It ended on Wednesday and the driving force behind the advocacy agenda, Family Sexual Violence Action Committee, which is made up of partners, received more reported cases of gender-based violence in the month alone. This is despite more advocacy reaching people.

national coordinator for FSVAC, Marcia Kalinoe, said even when more advocacies were being done at any other time apart from that month, occurrences of violence are increasing.

“It is definitely scary and frightening. We have a lot of issues that are coming out. We are seeing family violence, sorcery-related violence and human trafficking,” she said.

Evidence from research shows that two out of three women in PNG are victims of violence. This means that more than 80 percent of women in PNG experience various forms of violence such as sexual (rape, sexual harassment, incest etc) physical, verbal, emotional, psychological, coercive control, culture or religious violence. Research also shows that 67 percent of PNG women suffer from domestic violence alone.

Those that need help can call: Counseling hotline: 7150 8000 or 24 hour police helpline: 3244 331/ 3244329.


Media challenges as Papua New Guinea fights gendered and sorcery related violence.  By Michelle Rooney.

Another week of violence against women in PNG

It was a shocking week, even in what seems to be the ‘norm’ of gendered violence in PNG. Norms are so entrenched that without thinking many people become silenced, largely because of the despair that it so difficult to change anything. On October 14, a prominent journalist, the late Rosalyn Albaniel Evara, passed away in Port Moresby. At her funeral last week allegations emerged that she had been subjected to domestic violence. Simultaneously unfolding was another harrowing incident of sorcery related violence in a settlement in PNG’s other major urban centre, Lae in Morobe Province. One woman narrowly escaped death when the police intervened while another woman was found dead the following morning in what police believe might be a related incident. All three incidents, along with other stories depicting the kinds of stress that the police in PNG face, can be seen in the first 15 minutes of this report.

Why is this week any different? This week marks a pivotal moment in media coverage of gender violence in Papua New Guinea. It is a point when the stark realities facing PNG journalists were foregrounded, leading many in the industry to reflect critically on the ethics of the media in reporting gender based violence. But importantly, the fact this happened at the same moment that the sorcery related violence in Lae occurred also opens up other questions about the role of the media and the powers we can unintentionally or intentionally exercise in our individual and collective silences.

The government of PNG and its development partners have formulated the National Strategy to Prevent and Respond to Gender Based Violence and the Sorcery National Action Plan (See here, here, and here). In view of the challenges faced by journalist consideration must be given to allocating some funding to the media industry to support timely, accurate and independent reporting on these issues in ways that also support journalists.

(See the url above for the full article.)


Money shortage keeps health centres closed

November 3, 2017The National

Two new health facilities worth more than K1 million each have been completed in Mt Hagen, however, they may not be opened because there is no funding has been made for drugs and other equipment. The two new health posts, funded by Australia and Western Highlands Health Auhority (WHPHA), are at Wagbel and Ogelbeng outside Mt Hagen.
Keys to the two facilities were handed over on Oct 10 by contractor Steward Construction.
The WHPHA director for public health, Benson Safi, said the authority did not have enough money to buy equipment and drugs and that was likely to cause a delay in the opening of these facilities. Funding was on a kina-for-kina basis with every kina spent by WHPHA equally matched by Australia.


National Court Reports Backlog of Cases.

Post Courier November 6, 2017

The national court system is faced with a backlog of cases number in the thousands that are yet to be disposed of, Chief Justice Sir Salamo Injia said. Sir Salamo said 13,000 cases out of the 33, 000 were registered in the civil court alone, apart from the criminal court cases, that still needs to be disposed, thus adding to the workload of the judges. He said one way of expediting these workloads, is to address some of these cases by formal mediation under the alternative despite resolution (ADR) program of the National court that came about following the amendment to the National Court Act in 2008. “I’m hoping that one day we should be able to depose that kind of figure by mediation so we reduce the figure to probably five or six thousand pending in the year,” he said. The Chief Justice made these comments recently when welcoming 17 provisionally certified mediators and seven fully certified mediators that bring the number of internationally accredited PNG mediators to 134 since the start of training for this program in 2010 by the National Court.

“Another way to acknowledge this is in seeking the ARD leadership to look at how we can collaborate to add value to the current diploma program that has been developed in conjunction with the Divine Word University of Madang where our officers in the Judiciary and the Justice Department are currently required to undertake training,” Mr Steven said.


Police Turn Back Locals trying to feed refugees.

November 7, 2017

Not much has transpired since last week at the Manus regional processing centre after asylum seekers refused the news of shutting down and relocation. The situation remains quiet. Most refugees and asylum seekers are still at the centre at Manus regional processing centre and do not want to move to their new locations, despite water and power being disconnected as well as no food supply to them. However, the local Manus people are now bringing food to the refugees and asylum seekers at the centre by boat. Police on Manus have intercepted locals using boats to transport food to the refugees at the centre. They were strongly warned not to do so again and released. The commanding officer of the PNG Defence Force Naval Base at Lombrum has issued directives that the naval base was restricted and out of bound for civilians. Police and military police are enforcing the commanding officer directives to deal with unnecessary people coming into the base to feed the refugees at the centre.


The major and the father seek salvation for the refugees of Manus Island, Papua New Guinea.

Two Manusian men – Catholic priest Father Clement Taulam and retired army major Michael Kuweh – are defying the PNG and Australian governments in calling for assistance for the refugees and asylum seekers on Manus, and for a peaceable solution to the standoff inside the condemned Australian-run detention centre. Speaking at his Papitalai parish church on Los Negros Island, across a small bay from the detention centre, Taulam said the enforced shutdown of the centre – in which 380 men remain – had left people vulnerable and suffering. Over years of pastoral care, he has built up friendships with many of those in the centre, he told the Guardian and the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre.

“Now when they say they have no food, no water, no lights, they are deprived physically but they are saying too, that the physical is also spiritual for them. They are deprived of faith. They are suffering.”

“Australia seems to be saying, ‘Papua New Guinea, this is your responsibility’. And Papua New Guinea is saying to Australia, ‘Do your work, clean up your mess.’ And while this is going on, these people are suffering.”

[See url above for the full article]


Victims of violence need more support…/2016_01_21_newark__chronic_absenteeism_rprt.pdf

November 8, 2017The National

MEDICAL and psychological support for women and children victims of violence are still lacking in many communities, a report says. It said the legal and policy framework, however, had improved over the years. Independent Formative Evaluation of Family Support Centres in Papua New Guinea June 2016 report said many women and children lacked access to adequate intervention services for a healthy, enabling recovery from the emotional and psychological trauma of violence. “Many more children are made vulnerable through the endemic rates of violence perpetrated against women,” the report said. “Access to justice for children and women is limited, traditional systems of compensation are often used as a form of conflict resolution.” The report said that in an effort to provide comprehensive medical, legal aid and psychosocial support for survivors of violence, the government through the Department of Health and with the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) support established Family Support Centres (FSC) in 2004. The primary purpose of the FSC was to respond to the high rates of abuse and violence experienced by women and children by providing a comprehensive services medical, psychosocial and legal support. FSC also aims to strengthen community capacity to prevent and respond to violence against women and children through community advocacy.
Measures Needed to Address Sorcery

Post Courier November 9, 2017

Given recent media attention on sorcery related killings, Minister for Justice and Attorney-General, Steven Davies, has acknowledged that the absence of a comprehensive judicial response to the threat of sorcery may promote further violence against alleged sorcerers.

Mr Davies also asserted that Parliament’s reforms on sorcery-related killings were in response to a measurable, physical threat of violence against alleged sorcerers.

“Everyone needs to appreciate that the Constitution guarantees each and every citizen the protection of law. That is outlined in section 37.10 of the Constitution. It matters not where we stand in terms of our beliefs or philosophies, but once a person has committed a crime then that person must be processed through the processes of the law,” he said.

“Parliament has passed these amendments to emphasise the point that taking someone’s life or punishing them for alleged sorcery is not right. In due course, hopefully we can come to a point where we can legislate. What is clear and evident are the victims; and the fact that if we do not stop it we are going to allow a situation where, by default, we will accept that killing of persons accused of sorcery as the right thing to do.”


Research into the causes of domestic violence is critical

09 November 2017   FRANCIS NII

KUNDIAWA – Domestic violence is again in the headlines of Papua New Guinea’s media following the death of journalist Rosalyn Evara last month. At the time of her unexpected death, Rosalyn was business editor of the Post Courier newspaper. Her death was alleged to be a result of domestic violence, but Port Moresby General Hospital’s chief pathologist Dr Seth Fose, who carried out the autopsy, stated that embalming and decomposition had undermined any reliable findings as to cause. Earlier, at Rosalyn’s funeral, a family member had made public graphic photos of the harm done to her body.

The first case of gender-based violence that came to prominence was the brutal murder of 20-year old Kepari Leniata in Mt Hagen in 2013. Keniata had been accused of sorcery and was burned to death on a pile of tyres before a crowd of onlookers.

The PNG government then passed the Family Protection Bill in the same year, criminalising domestic and gender-based violence and enabling perpetrators to be arrested and prosecuted. The outcome, however, has been disturbing. Reports reveal a very low number of arrests and prosecutions related to gender-based violence. Most cases are not reported by victims or their relatives. Why?

The fundamental question to start with is why female victims and their relatives are reluctant to report violent acts to the authorities for arrest and prosecution? Why the silence on the part of victims?


Hospital needs 350 bags of blood weekly: Nurse

November 9, 2017 The National

PORT Moresby General Hospital needs about 350 bags of blood a week, says the hospital’s blood bank manager Sr Damaris Penias. “We need a lot of blood in the hospital, and those who need blood most are those who have been involved in accidents,” she said. “They come to the emergency ward – those are trauma cases from all types of injuries like after a car accident or  knife wounds. “We have pregnant women who need   blood, children with chronic illnesses. We make sure there is blood reserved for these children.
“Blood is required for patients undergoing surgery.” Penias said people who donated blood benefitted from having free health tests such as blood sugar, haemoglobin count, blood pressure and become aware of their blood type. “We know that this blood is life so by donating a bag of blood, you are not  saving just one life. If your blood is separated into three components like the plasma, red cells and platelets, you know that your one bag of blood is able to save up to three lives,” she said. “Port Moresby General Hospital is one of the biggest hospitals in the country and as a referral hospital, we receive patients from all over the country, and so the demand for blood has increased over the years. “We appeal to the public to donate blood so that we are able to maintain our supply .”


A review of 20 unresolved national issues

August 10, 2017

Report Title: Lest We Forget A review of 20 unresolved issues of national concern 2007 – 2017

This report is a systemic review of 20 selected corruption and poor governance cases in Papua New Guinea over a 10-year period (2007-2017). It is mainly based on publicly-available information including newspaper articles, online reports, and telephone interviews and email correspondence with individuals familiar with the issues.

Download Report


TI PNG 2017 Election report


Church Steps in to Provide Counselling

Post Courier, November 17, 2017

The Catholic Church in Lorengau, Manus is trying its best to counsel asylum at the Regional Processing Centre despite their religious backgrounds. Pastoral workers, Catholic nuns and the parish priest of Lorengau parish are involved, says General-secretary of the Catholic Bishops Conference Father Victor Roche. He described the situation as “not satisfactory” and disturbing. “They are under physical and mental strain so we have to find human solutions immediately. “Whether they are Muslims, Christians and Catholics, the Catholic Church is able to help them out,” Fr Roche said.


Papua New Guinean Police Evict Asylum-Seekers From Australian-Run Camp, UNHCR Decries Force Used

Nov. 23, 2017, at 6:40 p.m.

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Papua New Guinean police cleared the remaining asylum-seekers from a shuttered Australian-run detention complex on Friday, ending a three-week protest which started with some 600 people surviving on rain water and smuggled food and supplies. Australia closed the Manus Island detention centre on Oct. 31, after it was declared illegal by a Papua New Guinea court, but the asylum seekers refused to leave to transit centres saying they feared for their safety. Despite the unsanitary conditions and lack of adequate food and fresh water, about 300 remained when Papua New Guinea police started removing people on Thursday and Friday. “The refugees are leaving the prison camp,” Kurdish journalist Behrouz Boochani told Reuters in a text message on Friday. “We did our best to send out our voice but the government does not care.”

In Geneva, the U.N. refugee agency UNHCR denounced the use of force by Papua New Guinean police to remove the refugees and asylum seekers and called for Australia to ensure their protection. “The beating of refugees and asylum-seekers by uniformed officers with metal poles, shown by footage released today, is both shocking and inexcusable,” UNHCR said in a statement.


The elephant in the room: addressing corruption in PNG
By Eric Kwa on Nov 17, 2017 06:00 am
There is a general consensus that Papua New Guinea (PNG) is in a deep financial crisis. The country is in desperate need of help from both within and outside PNG. The political and bureaucratic leadership is working hard to sustain the country under this financial climate.

The Government has reached out to the international community for financial assistance. There are some positive responses, which is encouraging for the country. However, this is a temporary measure and not sustainable. The real challenge is dealing with the elephant in the room – corruption – which permeates all aspects of PNG society. Unless PNG tackles this problem head on, any external or internal interventions to financially rescue the country will be futile.

The new Government has acknowledged that improving governance is crucial to the future of PNG. The Government is now embarking on several initiatives to improve governance systems to restore confidence in the government and its systems and processes. The Constitutional and Law Reform Commission (CLRC) has been party to many of these initiatives and it is in this context that I would like to share with you these proposals.

If PNG is to improve governance and encourage investment in the private sector, and strengthen its bureaucracy to deliver basic and other services to the people, the new Government must first of all combat corruption as its number one priority. Corruption is a major problem for PNG. In 2016, it ranked 136 on the Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index, the same ranking as Guatemala, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Myanmar and Nigeria. As one of the most corrupt countries in the world, PNG has a huge task ahead to improve this image. PNG signed on to the United Nations Convention Against Corruption on 22 December 2004 and ratified it on 16 July 2007.


Children victimised in sorcery-related violence

The recent horrific torture of a 7-year-old girl in the Highlands recently, highlights the sad truth that children can be the victims of sorcery accusation related violence. Unhappily this case is not the first time a child has been tortured in this way, but it is to be hoped that it will be the last. One of the worst aspects of making an accusation of sorcery against someone is that it is often a label attached to that person for their life. “This is a lifetime thing” that is frequently the reflection of victims of sorcery accusations. Tragically, it sometimes also follows into the next generation. Children of those accused also live with the burden of the label of “sanguma” for their whole lives. In some cases, this ends up in their torture, like in the case where the girl’s mother, Leniata Kepari, was the very woman whose death in 2013 following accusations of sorcery provoked such widespread public outrage. Disappointingly, four years later there still has not been any prosecution of the perpetrators of those who burnt her to death. In other cases labelling children as “sanguma” results in them being avoided by others at school, or called names or otherwise socially isolated.

Children are also victims of sorcery accusation related violence in other ways. They may be forced to leave their home if a member of their family is accused or in some cases abandoned by their parents following accusation. It is time to say “enough now” and end sorcery accusation related violence, which is spreading its poison into the lives of those we should most nurture and protect. The government should fully fund the Sorcery National Action Plan that specifically recognizes the impact of sorcery accusation related violence on children and includes measures to care for and protect them.


Village birth attendants hailed as death rate drops

November 20, 2017 The National

village birth attendants (VBA) in Eastern Highlands have saved many  mothers and babies, provincial health authority (PHA) chief executive officer Dr Joseph Apa says. “The infant-to-maternal mortality rate in the province has dropped because of the efforts of VBAs in the eight districts of Eastern Highlands,” he said. Apa commended local non-governmental organisation “Touching the Untouchables (TTU)” for providing basic training to VBAs who are helping village mothers and  midwives to deliver babies in inaccessible rural areas.
“I am grateful to VBAs who have worked hard over the years as volunteers to assist the local village mothers in labour for successful deliveries of babies,” Apa said.


Students highlight pros, cons of phones

November 22, 2017The National

STUDENTS from around the country taking part in the National Children’s Forum have come up with four negative and three positive effects of mobile phones. They listed as negative effects:

  • Cyberbullying – arguments with Facebook friends that lead to fights and other problems;
  • misleading students astray – students get to follow the wrong people or join the wrong group on social media;
  • not enough family time – students turn to their phones and other social apps when their parents don’t have time for their children;
  • Negative effect on students’ attitude and behaviour towards school work – with peer pressure, students verbally abuse teachers and colleagues and sometimes come late to school.

The positive effects are:

  • Makes school work easier – accessing the internet on mobile phones, students can do searches and access information to do assignments and complete their projects;
  • communicating with friends, colleagues, loved ones – students get to call their parents to advise on their whereabouts or talk to their friends who may have had a good impact on them; and,
  • With the use of global positioning systems, parents or authorities can track down any criminal activity students might be involved in at a particular place and time.


Cares Domestic Violence Leave Sends a Message In PNG

Post Courier November 23, 2017

CARE International in PNG has strengthened its stand against domestic violence by introducing a range of measures aimed at supporting staff who experience violence in the home. The measures include a new category of Domestic Violence Leave that allows for nine days paid leave annually for staff who experience domestic violence. It is believed that CARE is one of the first employers in the country to introduce paid Domestic Violence Leave. The leave is discretionary and will be given on the understanding that the survivor of violence seeks some form of assistance, whether that is talking to someone, seeking care, legal advice or other measures that the person feels is appropriate for them. The leave is a recognition that violence in the home has an impact in the workplace, at school and in all areas of a person’s life.


Time to declare war on sanguma

November 13, 2017The NationalEditorial

MT HAGEN police on Saturday saved a woman from being tortured and burned alive on accusations of sanguma (sorcery) at Ban.
Last Wednesday night, Enga police saved three women from being burnt alive, also on allegations of sanguma.
This is a frightening situation for women in Papua New Guinea and it is becoming too common in a country where we like to call ourselves Christian.
Most cases go unreported.
The sanguma story is believable because there is no loud and clear authoritative voice saying otherwise.
The churches are silent.
The government is silent.
The police stand around and say, “OK, just torture her a little bit but don’t kill her”.
If no one in a position of authority and influence is standing up to call this “evil”, who will?
We must take a stand.
It takes a person with courage to speak the truth and blast through the deceit and lies.
There is no positive future for this country if we continue to believe in this sanguma story and accuse, torture and murder our innocent men and women.
Stop repeating this fake story.
Stop acting on it.
Stop believing it.
We should challenge our church and government leaders to speak up.
We should be publishing it so the whole country knows what each church is saying, what each minister and MP is saying.
What is needed is education.
There should be public health education.
Mandatory post-mortems should be carried out on any person said to have died because of sanguma to determine the real cause of death.
There should be legal repercussions for any health worker at any level who blames sik bilong ples, and likewise for anyone who attempts to use pasin bilong ples to determine a cause of death.
There is no place in our modern society for those who interpret dreams, consult a glasman, wave around a bamboo pole, ask the dead body all kinds of questions in the hope that it will raise a finger to give the answer.
The law about compensation should be changed so that death is not a business where people try to extort pik mani from each other and then fight about it.
It’s a form of child abuse to tell a child that the sanguma story is true.
It should be illegal to do that.
We need to raise the bar in terms of what we expect of our young people in PNG, in terms of honesty, courage, taking a stand, doing research, etc, and celebrating those who attain those standards as heroes of the nation.
The ‘men and women of honour’ awards are a great start and we need more of them.
We could create viral forms of communication targeted at children, giving good messages and work to disrupt the sanguma story.
There must be actual negative consequences for these crimes against the State.
Yes, crimes against the State.
Not only are they destroying the life of an innocent citizen – a mother, a daughter – but they are causing irreparable harm to the reputation of the nation, as well as solidifying the sanguma story as true for another generation of young children to believe.
Every time this happens, Papua New Guinea takes a step backwards.
It should be mandatory for communities to report to police any such incident and the people involved should be questioned and a list of suspects compiled.
No one should know who had cooperated or failed to cooperate with the investigation, thus no whistle-blowers could be targeted by the community.
That’s just one idea. We have to have more and more ideas to find something that works.
This cannot just go on like this. We must rise up, get organised and be counted.
It should be a nationwide campaign, well-funded and led.
People who want to torture others must realise that they are a minority and we, the majority, stand against them.
They need to know that they are shaming their own nation when they behave this way.
It should be illegal to tell anyone that sanguma is real in any sense that can be used to accuse another human being of being a sanguma.
That is not what the Bible teaches us, and it should not be who we are.
So-called pastors (actually they are glasman) who are making money from poor, naive Christians by telling them that sanguma is real should be investigated.
But even more than that, the real pastors and people of faith should be getting off their
backside and proclaiming and living the power and love of God, taking a stand against violence, helping those who are hurting, seeking restoration through truth-telling.
There is so much more we can do to get rid of this evil.


Let’s end violence related to sorcery

November 9, 2017The National

IN recent days, there have been a number of calls for the re-enactment of the Sorcery Act to deal with the problem of violence against those accused of sorcery and witchcraft.
However, when the Sorcery Act was in force, between 1971 and 2013, it was very rarely used to deal with concerns about sorcery.
Re-enacting the Sorcery Act is not likely to bring about any real change.
The village courts retain their powers to deal with a range of sorcery-related matters, such as people pretending to practice sorcery, and paying or offering to pay a person to perform acts of sorcery.
They have the ability to issue preventative orders that can stop accusations which may lead to violence.
Research directly related to supporting the Sorcery National Action Plan (SNAP) has discovered much better ways of dealing with the problem related to sorcery accusation violence, according to Associate Professor Miranda Forsyth who is with Australian National University.
First, accusations of sorcery are often made by blood relatives of those who are being accused, and often in the context of ongoing disputes about land or jealousy.
This means that communications within families need to be improved, and that mechanisms to mediate inter-family differences need to be strengthened.
Second, accusations of sorcery are often triggered by a death or sickness.
People who are experiencing grief are often not able to think straight and they may seek comfort from blaming others.
Communities need to be prepared for such accusations when there is a death and develop pathways to deal with grief in ways that do not lead to violence.
This may involve comforting the grieving family members while making strong statements against those who seek to blame sorcery.
Third, subjecting people to sorcery accusation related violence does not in fact resolve fears and concerns about sorcery within the community.
Instead it creates further victims and cycles of payback and misery.
Finally, there is a regular failure to bring the perpetrators of sorcery accusation related violence to justice through the state criminal justice system.
The laws to do this are all in place already.
These are crimes of willful murder, grievous bodily harm and assault – it is no defence to any of these crimes that the victim is accused of sorcery.
We also hear of people being tortured to get them to ‘confess’ to having committed sorcery.
Torturing a person is both a crime and not a reliable way of obtaining evidence.
It stands to sense that someone will say whatever they think their torturer wants them to say in order to get them to stop burning or cutting them.
We do not need another Sorcery Act. The laws are there.
Applying those laws and arresting and charging those who torture, burn and kill is the only realistic way towards eliminating this pervasive form of violence.
The Family and Sexual Violence Action Committee (FSVAC) of the Consultative Implementation and Monitoring Council, as a core committee to the SNAP, strongly condemns any acts of violence that are committed against persons as a result of sorcery accusations.
Individuals must not take law into their own hands and must play a part in safeguarding lives of all citizens.
That means everyone including the media has a social obligation not to incite fear and violence related to sorcery.


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Social Concerns Notes – October 2017

25,000 estimated to be HIV/AIDs carriers

October 2, 2017 The National

THE HIV/AIDS epidemic continues to be a challenge for the country with more than 25,000 people affected and receiving treatment, an official says programme manager of sexual transmitted disease and HIV at the Department of Health Dr Nick Dala said in Madang last week that HIV/AIDs cases in the province were increasing from a 0.7 per cent infection rate to 1 percent which meant the epidemic was increasing. “Madang has about 500 people affected and on treatment, excluding those not on treatment.” Caring for patients, counselling and addressing issues affecting HIV/AIDs in the province will now be carried solely out by the provincial government. Since the programme was funded by the US government from 2008 until this year, US ambassador Catharine Ebert Grey officially handed over the programme to Madang provincial administrator Daniel Aloi representing the provincial administration and government.
TB Spreading in West New Britain

Post Courier, October 17, 2017

West New Britain province has reported 8,885 registered cases of Tuberculosis this year.

Chairman of the provincial health Authority Dr Mathias Sapuri said the figures are alarming and highlights the obvious fact that there is ongoing TB transmissions in the community. The chairman said the disease burden is the tip of the iceberg and has recommended some ways forward in addressing TB and HIV in the province. There is currently no appropriate TB Clinic (utilising disease control clinic) and is overloaded with patients that wait in long queues for a long time daily. The TB ward is currently in a state of falling apart and needs renovation or even a new building. Dr Sapuri said staff allocated to TB is “inadequate”. The current TB staff are overworked and will result “burnt out”, being at risk of being infected and performing inadequately. He said there are also logistic problems and pharmaceutical supplies and consumables issues. Dr Sapuri said PNG and WNBP is sitting on the MDR – TB Time Bomb.

“The bomb is ticking and we are taking all the necessary steps to address this before this explodes in our face.


PNG ranks lowest in water supply list

October 2, 2017 The National

PAPUA New Guinea is ranked lowest globally in terms of water supply coverage and has the lowest sanitation coverage in the Pacific region, United Nations resident coordinator Roy Trivedy says.
He said according to the 2017 Joint Monitoring Programme report, only 37 per cent of Papua New Guineans had access to basic water and 19 per cent had access to basic sanitation. “That’s four out of 10 people who have access to water. So we have got to do quite a lot more to improve it. And only 19 per cent of our population have access to good sanitation. There is a long way to go to improve this statistics,” Trivedy said. “Water, sanitation, hygiene (Wash) are key contributors to improving the quality of life and improved nutrition and education outcomes. No development sector can make a meaningful headway without prioritising Wash within the Government.” He said PNG’s first Wash policy (2015-2030) highlighted that more than 75 per cent of the country’s rural population and 85 per cent of the urban population were expected to have better access to water and sanitation by 2030.
Reducing Disaster Risk

Post Courier, October 3, 2017

Significant steps are being taken towards developing a long-term strategy to reduce disaster risk in the country. That is according to a UN statement. A global disaster risk study carried out by the United Nations University ranked PNG as the 10th most disaster-prone country in the world. PNG is exposed to hazards such as earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, tidal waves, coastal inundation, inland flooding, landslides, cyclones, drought, frost and outbreak of diseases. These are compounded with social and environmental issues of tribal fights, rapid population growth, urbanisation, poor land management and ecosystem degradation. Climate change is reportedly exacerbating the frequency and intensity of climatic hazards in PNG and globally. The National Disaster Centre (NDC) is leading the process of developing PNG’s national disaster risk reduction framework, or NDRRF. Global disaster studies and research indicate for every K1 invested in disaster risk reduction efforts saves K7 that would be needed to respond and recover from disasters when they occur.

Logging in WNB Causing Havoc

Post Courier, October 5, 2017

Landowners of Lolo Local forest area in Cape Gloucester in Kandrian Gloucester district of West New Britain Province are calling on their local Member of Parliament and the Forest Authority to intervene quickly. Concerned landowners have raised concerns of a logging company (named) not considering the buffer zones including its rivers used by the communities. These areas are being affected by the logging company’s carelessness of logging being carried out in the area. LO’s spokesman Joe Kavui from Airagilpua village said the logging company was putting at risk in the lives of the people that are affected by the careless logging activities. “We strongly appeal to the Forest Authority to do a special inspection immediately as logging has affected the rivers that our people use for drinking, cooking and washing,” Kavui said. “We would also like to appeal to Forest Minister to take immediate actions on the developer in their Kandrian Gloucester District area,” Kavaui said.


Grave Situation

Post Courier, October 6, 2017

There is a looming problem facing Port Moresby city with the fast depletion of land at its only public cemetery at Nine-Mile forcing the serious issue of cremation to replace traditional burials soon. The National Capital District Commission says this will happen in less than 15 years but is already contemplating other options as the last patches of available land at the cemetery may be used up within several years. Already burials are taking up the nearby hills that once were the natural boundaries of the flat area purposely designated for the public cemetery along the Sogeri Road.

City manager Leslie Alu said the NCDC may have no options with the pressing problem but to consider cremation among others including the locker room system. Port Moresby’s public cemetery at Nine Mile has got only 15 years left before it reaches full capacity, according to the NCDC health division. In acknowledging the seriousness of this issue city manager, Leslie Alu, said in the worse case scenario, the commission would, based on costs, pursue either cremation or keeping bodies in a locker system in a storage facility.

To make things worse part of the unused cemetery land too is being subjected to illegal occupation by settlers who are expected to be evicted if they don’t vacate voluntarily when the commission moves in to fence the area this year,” he said.

Informal vendor Dona Supa who lives at New Town in the Moresby South electorate, says despite its novelty, cremation is better than burial because it’s cheap especially when they are trying to live within budget in the city where prices of goods and services are always increasing .

She said when her father died in 2013 in the city, they repatriated his body to their home province in Simbu and had to raise about K20,000 to meet the costs.

This is less compared to cremation fees imposed by a funeral home in the city , ranging from K500 for still births to K3300 for adults and it is mostly sought after by the expatriates and mixed-race Papua New Guineans .


UN Experts Workshop on Witchcraft…d-violence-20171004/

On 21-22 September 2017, the UN Experts Workshop on Witchcraft and Human Rights was held in Geneva. Part I of this two-part series discussed the key learnings of relevance for Papua New Guinea, setting the context for this post which discusses the debates that arose from the workshop.

These differences of opinion are also instructive for PNG to consider in maturing its policy with regard to these issues. Many of them have already been discussed at length at the national level, but it is useful to reflect on them again in light of the international debate.

See url above for whole of this article.


Part I of this two-part series can be found here.


Law and Order Crisis Besets Madang.

09 October 2017 By Scott Waide

This needs to be said. There is a break down in law and order in Madang town. It is a crisis that needs to be addressed urgently. Unlike the Southern Highlands and Enga, it is not election related. It is a break down in the moral fibre of society. Crime is affecting the daily lives of ordinary people.

There is a general feeling of fear. Women are being harassed in public with others too afraid to act.   There is a general feeling that police will not act on the petty crimes if reported. People are being harassed and attacked near their homes. My wife’s younger brother was attacked on the road less than 10 meters outside the home where my family lives. He wasn’t drunk. He was just sitting on the roadside on an early evening. He had every right to do so. His phone was stolen. Did we report it? No. Would police have attended to the incident? Nope. We know that for a fact. There are too many incidents like this happening.

People have lost confidence in the system and procedures that are supposed to protect them.

Every day there is a break in. Every week there is an armed robbery in full view of the public. Armed criminals are acting with relative impunity. I have access to reports that come in via Whatsapp. Every day a message comes in. Armed robbery… hold up… armed robbery… hold up…

In 2011, when Anthony Wagambie was provincial police commander, we made a documentary on the problem of police housing. The crime problem was still developing. Police families told of their hardship and that of their husbands and wives who were serving members of the RPNGC.

One policeman I found living in a storeroom beside the town police station. He still lives there with his family. There is no accommodation for him.

In 2015, I went back and found another – a young constable with the CID – living on the MV Mamose while it was being refurbished. His wife left him because of the accommodation problem. Another was living in his office until they ordered him out. Every year, I send a television crew to Madang to cover the housing problem. In 2016, the wives of policemen, frustrated by the lack of action, confronted my crew. We understood where they were coming from. They told us that they didn’t want to talk to the media because it was a waste of time. Nothing was being done about their housing woes. Madang is a beautiful town. For those of us who went to Divine Word University, it holds a great deal of sentimental value for us. It is where we made lifelong friendships and where we found a sense of community and purpose….

The solution lies in a community approach to the whole crime problem. People have to take ownership and force the police to act on the cases reported. The approach has to be coordinated and consistent so that it makes the criminals afraid of hiding in the community.


Doctors Out of Mendi

Post Courier, October 13, 2017

The decision to evacuate 14 doctors out of Mendi in Southern Highlands has been commended by the National Doctors Association. Despite a call by the Health Secretary, Pascoe Kase, for the doctors to remain and continue to perform their duties, the president of the association, Dr James Naipao, said they were evacuated for security reasons.  “Loss of lives through high-powered guns, rampage and burning down of properties in the Mendi township and encroaching into setups like the School of Nursing and hospital is deemed absolutely with no connotation a crisis and emergency,” Dr Naipao said.

“The fear of loss of life, insecurity, school children missing classes and lack of freedom in the already red-hot situation in Mendi must not be taken lightly by those in authority. Dr Naipao said leaders in management positions and politics who did not care about loss of lives at an already existing crisis or impending crisis should rethink the position they occupy.


Gender Disparity in Education

Post Courier, October 18, 2017

Gender disparity in education and literacy continues to be a significant issue in Papua New Guinea. While the government’s Tuition Fee Free Education Policy has seen an increase in net enrolment rates at the basic education level by almost one third of females, net enrolment rates in basic education continues to lag behind in males.

This was highlighted by Community Development Minister, Soroi Eoe, when closing the official forum on Men’s Role in Addressing Gender-Based Violence. He said a number of factors contribute to the challenge of ensuring girls have equal access to education. These are gender-based violence, where girls face a higher risk of being subjected to all forms of violence both at school and at home, and cultural factors such as inherent gender discrimination, where girls may be perceived as being more useful in the home while boys are seen as more of an investment for the future of the family. “Despite these challenges, increasing access to education and closing the gender gap with respect to levels of literacy and education between girls and boys remain a government priority,” he said.


Root Causes of GBV

Post Courier, October 19, 2017

According to the PNG Mining Watch Group Executive Director, Mr Patrick Lombaia traditional practices such as bride price and polygamy are some of the root causes of GBV in the country.

“Unless we address polygamy and brideprice, we are going to come up with some sort of answers for the issue which is increasing rapidly,” stated Mr Lombaia.

Mr Lombaia said that polygamy and bride price should be discouraged because when bride price is not paid the family of the bride fights with the husband and if or when bride price is paid the women is beaten by the husband because she is owned by the husband.

“Violence is mainly caused by husband’s not distributing money or wealth to their wives and mothers equally which only instigate hate and fights among the many wives,” stressed Mr Lombaia.


Challenge of Climate Change

Post Courier, October 20, 2017

The Pacific region’s ability to address the challenges of climate change can be more effective, more opportunities for increased participation and leadership for women are offered. Speaking at the Women’s Leadership in Climate Diplomacy breakfast organised by the governments of Fiji and Australia, Pacific Islands Forum Secretary General Dame Meg Taylor said more needs to be done at the local, national and regional levels to improve engagement with women and girls. “In considering innovative advocacy and partnerships for climate diplomacy, this morning’s dialogue presents us with the opportunity to reflect on the leadership role of Pacific women: how they have, and how they must continue to be involved in driving solutions that seek to address our climate challenges,” she said. “Climate leadership and advocacy remains crucial for our region and must include the voices of all stakeholders. Outside of their intellectual contributions and initiative – I believe that women bring an intuitive perspective to all situations – we should recognise and capitalise on this as we build our resilience to climate change and disaster risks for our families, for our communities and countries.”


Prisoners Denied Full Protection of the Law

Post Courier, October 20, 2017

The Court, presided over by Justice David Cannings, in a 53 page judgment and report of the Inquiry, concluded that all prisoners sentenced to death in PNG are being denied the full protection of the law, contrary to the Constitution of the country. And he has ordered a stay on any execution of prisoners who have been sentenced to death until their rights under the constitution are fully complied with. The Court which commenced the proceedings on its own initiative, styled as an inquiry into human rights of prisoners sentenced to death, was to, identify which prisoners have been sentenced to death, identify what human rights they have and whether those rights are being afforded to them and examine the role of the Advisory Committee on the Power of Mercy.
Justice Cannings in his judgment discussed 10 questions which included the Courts jurisdiction to conduct the inquiry, the procedures used, What offences attract the death penalty? What is the method of execution of a person sentenced to death? Who has been sentenced to death? What human rights do prisoners sentenced to death have? What is the role of the Advisory Committee on the Power of Mercy? What is the present status of those on death row? Are the human rights of prisoners sentenced to death being afforded to them? and what declarations or orders should the court make? The most serious concern raised in the judgment by Justice Cannings is the absence of the Advisory Committee on the Power of Mercy which the court found to have become defunct and accordingly made a declaration to that effect. “There has been a failure over an extended period on the part of the National Government, in particular the National Executive Council, to comply with the duty to facilitate appointments of members of the Advisory Committee on the Power of Mercy and to provide it with staff and facilities. The Committee has become defunct. This leaves all prisoners on death row with no effective opportunity to invoke their right to the full protection of the law by applying for exercise of the power of mercy.”


Nautilus a Risky Deal

Former Papua New Guinea attorney-general Sir Arnold Amet has joined the growing opposition to Nautilus Minerals Solwara 1 deep sea mining project in the Bismarck Sea off New Ireland. “It is understandable that Nautilus shareholders want to protect their own financial interests but new investors should beware, the Solwara 1 project is very high risk,” said Sir Arnold.

Canadian company Nautilus is still seeking funds for its flagship Solwara 1 deep sea mining project. Commercial operation has been delayed year after year since it received its licence to mine the floor of the Bismarck Sea in 2011. In a last ditch bid to finance Solwara 1, Nautilus’s two largest shareholders have now formed a new company whose sole job is to secure funding for the Solwara 1 project. “I am concerned that the Papua New Guinean government has bought a 15% share in a dodgy project. Sir Arnold said. “Any operating disasters by Nautilus Minerals will quickly translate into an environmental catastrophe for the Bismarck Sea and its communities. The associated financial liabilities will be huge.” In recent statements the machine operators for the Solwara 1 project voiced fears about the safety of operating the equipment 1.6 km under the surface, 25 km off the coast of New Ireland.


Vice exposed

October 23, 2017 The National

SPOT checks by a government team on some business houses in Port Moresby have uncovered a suspected prostitution racket involving foreigners, the abuse of local women workers and filthy kitchens of eateries. In addition, the team comprising officers from PNG Customs, Labour Department, Investment Promotion Authority, National Capital District Commission, Bank of PNG, Censorship Office and police, discovered poor living conditions of some foreign workers. The team came across a lodge behind a small canteen which offers a low hourly accommodation rate. The canteen was occupied by male and female foreigners. The spot checks are part of a government crackdown on foreigners living in PNG illegally and involved in illegal activities. The IPA and NCDC officers discovered that the foreign businessman did not have a permit to operate the lodge. They suspected that the lodge was being used as a brothel by the female foreigners. Dino Mas, the deputy Chief Immigration Officer Compliance and Border Division said last Friday that they were discovering more illegal activities as the operation by the government team entered its fifth day.
During the debriefing session after the operations, officers exchanged information and discussed what they had discovered. The officers, who requested anonymity, revealed a high turnover of local female employees of some foreign-owned stores. “They were employed for about three months and then replaced by new local females,” one officer said. “They must be employing new ones regularly to avoid paying income tax and superannuation. “And they are paid K2.60 per hour instead of the K3.50 which is the minimum wage rate. These females are also encouraged to get credits and they take home about K70 per fortnight.
Church Partnership Program Phase 3

Post Courier October 23, 2017

Australian High Commissioner to Papua New Guinea, Bruce Davis, launched the phase three of the Church Partnership Program (CPP) which will focus on enhanced collaboration to improve service delivery, build community resilience and strengthen the institutional capacity of the Papua New Guinea Council of Churches and its members. “This next phase will explore options for enhanced collective action including opportunities to strengthen the Papua New Guinea Council of Churches as the national peak body, and potential for churches to deepen their engagement with Government on issues of national interest.” Mr Davis remarked on the success of this 13 year program and its profound impact on the lives of many Papua New Guineans.

Mr Davis said that the Australian Government remains committed to supporting the churches in their efforts to build an inclusive and prosperous Papua New Guinea. In particular, he acknowledged the churches’ leadership in the development of a joint Theology of Development and Theology of Gender Equality. “Together, these demonstrate the role of churches in influencing public debate and building momentum for social change”, he said.

The launch was part of the CPP’s biannual forum which brought together representatives from the seven Papua New Guinea mainline churches (United Church, Seventh Day Adventist, Evangelical Lutheran Church, Catholic Church, Anglican Church, Baptist Union and the Salvation Army), Australian Faith Based Organisations and the Governments of Papua New Guinea and Australia.


Spot-check uncovers homemade porn video

October 24, 2017 The National

A GOVERNMENT team conducting spot checks on some foreign-owned businesses in Port Moresby yesterday arrested a foreigner in possession of a homemade pornographic video featuring a local woman. The team of officers from PNG Customs, police, Immigration, National Capital District Commission, PNG Censorship Office, Labour and the Investment Promotion Authority has been for the past week inspecting businesses and living quarters used by foreigners. This follows public concern on the influx of foreigners, some of whom are occupying businesses reserved for locals, and being involved in illegal activities.
Yesterday, the officers paid a surprise visit on the foreigner at his store and confiscated his mobile phone, catching him and his employees off guard. One of the expatriate staff fled to a room near the kitchen, put off the light and pretended to be asleep. Police officers in the team seized his mobile phone and saw the pornographic movie of an expatriate man and a local woman.
An Immigration officer also revealed a similar incident at a foreign-owned business house last week. “When we went in at about mid-day, all the 30 expatriate male staff were fast asleep,” he said. “It was just a normal small supermarket which does not have night shift.
“We then woke everyone up and checked their work permits and passports. They all said the documents were with their boss who was overseas. So we are just waiting for their boss to return. The officer said employers holding on to their staff’s documents was a form of human trafficking. “The bosses held on to these documents to force them work. They also threaten them that they will not see their families again,” he said.


GBV and Human Rights

Post Courier, October 24, 2017

Gender base violence can also be recognized as a human rights issue and victims can make an application for enforcement of their human rights in the National Court. That’s from a National Court Judge when awarding a woman K10,000 for breaches of her human rights by her defacto husband. Justice David Cannings in a seven page judgment said “Whenever one party to the relationship commits an act of physical violence against the other party, then, unless the act is justified in terms of a defence that would be available under the criminal law (such as self-defence), such an act will amount to “cruel” treatment. In a society such as Papua New Guinea, where it is widely recognised that domestic and gender-based violence is a major problem, this sort of violence must be recognised as a human rights issue” The applicant was awarded reasonable damages in the sum of K8000 and exemplary damages of K2000, being a total award of damages of K10,000.


Immanent Crisis for Asylum Seekers in Manus

Post Courier, October 20, 2017

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, has urged Australia to take responsibility and address the imminent humanitarian crisis for refugees and asylum-seekers in Papua New Guinea.
UNHCR is profoundly troubled by the mounting risks of ‘offshore processing’ arrangements, and their extraordinary human toll, as Australia seeks to abruptly decrease its support by the end of October.
UNHCR’s most recent comprehensive missions to Papua New Guinea in May and September 2017 have amplified longstanding concerns for the health and well-being of refugees and asylum-seekers there. Local emergency medical services are overstretched, and unable to meet the additional needs of the transferred population. The discontinuation of torture and trauma services is also particularly worrying in a context where people seeking protection have suffered the negative effects of prolonged and open-ended detention.
A lack of proper planning for the closure of existing facilities, insufficient consultation with the Papua New Guinean community, and the absence of long-term solutions for those not included in the relocation arrangement to the United States of America, has increased an already critical risk of instability and harm. “Having created the present crisis, to now abandon the same acutely vulnerable human beings would be unconscionable”, said Thomas Albrecht, UNHCR’s Regional Representative in Canberra. “Legally and morally, Australia cannot walk away from all those it has forcibly transferred to Papua New Guinea and Nauru,” the statement said.


Manus Australia Should Come Clean

October 26, 2017

Manus leaders want Australia to come clean on what’s in store for the island province and its people before and after the closure of the refugee processing centre in five day’s time.
Failure to do that, the leaders have threatened to stop the third facility being constructed to accommodate the remaining refugees when the operations at Lombrum shut down on Tuesday next week.
Further, they have asked the Australian government and for the PNG government to take note, warning that if nothing comes forward by the date of closure, refugees may never move out of Lombrum, which will cause problems.
Mr Benjamin said for the last four years, Manus has been tarnished for apparently “not treating refugees well, and this negativity has badly branded the peace-loving islanders, leaving a very bad legacy and impression. He said although there has been development in Manus, it was disappointing to see that there were none of high impact value or major in infrastructural terms.
“Yes, the Australians will say that they provided job opportunities and some subcontracts. Those were individuals but like I said, I, on behalf of the people of Manus, expected something like, a stadium, a big hospital, something like that,” Mr Benjamin said. “It is very disappointing at this stage as from day one, we were never informed at all. There was no courtesy and like always, I express our concerns and disappointment again that there was lack of consultation and no courtesy at all. I am talking about the third facility.


Baseline Data for Development

Post Courier, October 25, 2017

The confusion and delays caused by the “last-minute” updating exercise of the Common Roll of PNG during the recent national elections, has emphasised the greater need for more relevant, accurate and timely baseline data in PNG. At the official launching of the Data4Development website yesterday, United Nations (UN) resident coordinator in PNG, Roy Trivedy, said that the website presented a unique platform for national government departments and PNG development partners to be able to collectively store and access development data.
“It’s that first time we have in one place all the development data for Papua New Guinea and we hope that every organisation will populate this and really use this website,” said Mr Trivedy.
United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) representative Koffi Kouame said that comprehensive population data is not only essential, but necessary to the development of effective interventions.
“Information is power. So having the right information is important for not only policy development but also for programing, monitoring and for tracking of results,” said Mr Kouame.
Mr Kouame gave the example of outdated health indicators throughout the country which greatly affected the effective implementation of any health sector interventions.
“So far, national data, dated 2006 says that the maternal mortality ratio is at 733 out of 100, 000 live births. So have we gone down? Have we reduced that rate? The demographic and health survey will help us to know the effort that government and its development partners have made to bring down the maternal mortality rate. The same can be said for the infant mortality rate and other development indicators,” he said.
Death of journalist sparks national debate about domestic violence

The death of a high-profile Papua New Guinean journalist at the age of 41 has sparked a national debate about the country’s continuing epidemic of violence against women, after graphic photographs were shown at her funeral. Family members of Rosalyn Albaniel Evara, who was an editor at PNG’s largest newspaper, the Post-Courier, have received support from the Port Moresby governor for their calls for a police investigation into her death. Evara died last week after she collapsed at her Port Moresby home, and was rushed to hospital. The journalist was farewelled at a funeral in Port Moresby on Monday, where an aunt, Mary Albaniel, used her eulogy to allege Evara had been violently assaulted. Albaniel, wearing a “say no to violence” tee-shirt, showed photographs of her battered body and alleged a history of abuse. She said they discovered the bruises when preparing Evara’s body, and decided to take photos in the hope it may lead to criminal prosecution. Albaniel told The Guardian she felt compelled to raise the allegations at the funeral, which was attended by Evara’s husband. “I’m using the same surname as the deceased’s maiden name. To continue advocating in my job as a defender of human rights would be useless if I can’t get justice done,” she said.

On Tuesday morning Port Moresby governor, Powes Parkop, reportedly ordered the woman’s burial be deferred for a post mortem and investigation, overriding the initial wishes of Evara’s mother, who later that day decided to formally request a post mortem.


Prime Minister Speaks Out Against Violence

Post Courier, October 26, 2017

Communities must stand up against any act of violence against women and Churches must take a leading role in protecting victims and exposing violent men. This is the message from the Prime Minster Peter O’Neill to community and church leaders, as well as male family members who he said have a natural responsibility to protect their mothers, daughters and sisters.
“A man is a coward if he thinks it is okay to hit a woman, these abusers would not have the courage to hit a man who was bigger than they are, but they hit a woman who is smaller,” the Prime Minister said. “We have enacted laws to prevent violence against women, but no Government in any country can stop violence against women without the active support of communities. “There must be zero tolerance in our nation for violence against women, and community leaders must do more to help victims rather than supporting perpetrators.
“Community leaders are not truly leaders if they turn a blind eye to violence against women.
“Every human life matters and must be protected, and domestic violence is totally unacceptable. “Any community or Church leader who turns a blind eye to even a single case of violence against women has let their people down, and has abandoned the Christian principles our nation holds dear.”
“I also appeal to the sons of our nation, if your father beats your mother you have to show that you are a man and stand up for your mother. “Your mother gave you life, now you must protect her life and show gratitude for her commitment to you.

‘Never been more traumatised’: 72-year-old nun recounts Manus Island visit

The Canberra Times October 24 2017

A neatly-made bed sits in a sunlit room, empty and waiting for visiting refugees at the house of 72-year-old Jane Keogh.

The nun and former school principal has often welcomed desperate people into her home in Downer. Four weeks ago on Manus Island, she visited theirs.

As the island readied for the closure of its detention centre on October 31, she flew to Papua New Guinea for the second time this year to see its asylum seekers.

“What I couldn’t believe this time was the deteriorated health of the men,” she said.

“I’ve never been more upset or traumatised in my life.”

Sister Keogh and another Canberran, St Vincent de Paul member Tim McKenna, have funded their own flights to Manus Island to support refugees and help them navigate the path ahead as PNG closes its detention centre.

Mr McKenna, now visiting PNG, has sent updates to Canberra’s refugee advocates waiting to hear about life on Manus.

His reports from a local community meeting last week bode poorly for the asylum seekers on the island, where authorities have been pushing them into transition accommodation closer to the centre of town by turning off electricity and water at some of the compounds.

“The first key message from the community was that they didn’t want a camp with several hundred refugees and asylum seekers in their ward in a residential area on or near their land,” Mr McKenna said.

“The second key message was that they were angry that they hadn’t been consulted. Their third key message was that none of the refugees should be settled in Manus.”

Asylum seekers are reluctant to move closer to the island’s town, where there has been historic tension with locals. Sr Keogh describes why advocates fear what could follow the processing centre’s closure.

“You have to go there to understand how PNG doesn’t cope in so many ways,” she said.

Manus Island people were caring and generous, and many were supportive of refugees, however a small group would get drunk and had access to knives. Sometimes, they would put a knife to the throat of an asylum seeker, Sr Keogh said. One video phone conversation she had with an asylum seeker was interrupted by an attack.

Of the triggers for worsening mental health among asylum seekers, the authorities’ decision to move them from the processing centre by cutting access to cigarettes had a critical effect.

One refugee she spent time with had been a friend of 32-year-old Tamil man Rajeev Rajendran, who left Sri Lanka and died in October apparently by suicide after experiencing mental illness.

The refugee was gripped by paranoia and told her how he had seen Mr Rajendran after he had cut himself in an apparent suicide attempt.

Her notes, written while she was on the island, showed the limits to the help she could give: “Suddenly from a short period of calm he got up and ran wildly away. Friends followed in the car for a few kilometres and were with difficulty able to bring him back. We realised he was too ill for us to handle.”

Sr Keogh said Australian Border Force via another company referred her to PNG Immigration when she tried to find help for him. A PNG Immigration official witnessing the refugee in a disturbed state refused to get involved. She remains harrowed by the response.

“I can live next to suffering, but I can’t live next to people who refuse to help,” she said.

When asked about the incident, the Immigration department said it was a matter for the PNG government.

Despite the efforts of locals to be helpful, their medical services didn’t have the psychiatrists or facilities needed by many traumatised asylum seekers, Sr Keogh said.

“The hospital had nowhere to house them.”

The Immigration department said refugees would continue to have access to medical services from IHMS, including for mental health, following the closure of Manus Island.

Sr Keogh would like to return to PNG to assist asylum seekers, but fears her attempts to help could be blocked.

“I can’t see what I saw on Manus and go back to normal life,” she said.

Unsure how to act next, she said refugee advocates just needed to keep the issue alive in Australia.

“You can’t hope to get any changes with the government.”


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Social Concerns Notes – September 2017

MP emphasizes need for more role models to help youngsters

August 24, 2017 The National
The country faces a crisis of bad role modelling by older people towards youths and this must change, Madang MP Bryan Kramer says. Speaking at the Divine Word University’s annual cultural day at the Madang campus recently, Kramer said the there were not many role models as there were in the past. He expressed concern that political leadership has been affected by poor role models setting bad examples over the years and it would take some time to fix the problem.
Kramer said the situation could change with institutions like DWU helping to shape ethical and honest professionals to enter the workforce and take up leadership roles. Kramer, who graduated from DWU with a Bachelor in Business-Accountancy, paid tribute to his former university for teaching religious education and ethics as a core subject that has shaped the character of DWU graduates over the years. He said his DWU education shaped his view of the world and gave him the moral compass to understand issues such as corruption in PNG today. He paid tribute to the Catholic religious, especially the Divine Word missionaries and Holy Spirit sisters who founded the university, the lay missionaries, volunteers and other staff for molding young people to be better citizens over the years.

16 years on: Looking back on Bougainville’s peace agreement

03 September 2017
ARAWA – It was 16 years ago last week since the signing of an important blueprint that put an end to Bougainville’s civil war in Papua New Guinea. The Bougainville Peace Agreement paved the way for lasting peace on the war-torn island following the 10-year conflict which erupted as a result of disputes over the giant Panguna copper mine.
On 30 August 2001, the Bougainville Peace Agreement was signed in Arawa, Central Bougainville.
The agreement between the government of Papua New Guinea and the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) was intended to further the objectives of the Burnham Truce, Lincoln and other agreements brokered with New Zealand help. It was to be implemented through consultation and co-operation.
Several delegations from mainland Papua New Guinea visited Bougainville to restore the government’s trust and confidence to the people. Among them was Papua New Guinea’s former prime minister, Bill Skate, who asked hardliners and warlords to surrender their weapons. This was documented in the ceasefire agreement. Women were at the forefront of peace negotiations.
The signing of the Bougainville Peace Agreement in 2001 allowed the establishment of the ABG in 2005,with Joseph Kabui elected as the first president of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville.
It was a win-win solution, but since 2005 the full implementation of the peace accord has never been realised. One of the major issues has been unpaid grants which had been committed to Bougainville by the PNG national government.

A bumptious, unwise Peter O’Neill stirs the Bougainville pot

28 September 2017
NOOSA – It wasn’t so much the content as the arrogance of prime minister Peter O’Neill’s airy statement about Bougainville’s political future that came as a bombshell.
Bougainville’s ‘independence’ referendum scheduled for 15 June 2019 will not go ahead unless key conditions are met, O’Neill told the Papua New Guinea parliament on Tuesday.
And yesterday, Bougainville president Dr John Momis predictably reacted with anger, and said O’Neill was dead wrong.
“The referendum is inevitable. It’s been decided. We will have a referendum,” came the sharp retort.
Addressing the PNG parliament, O’Neill had stated that Bougainville’s autonomous government will be required to meet certain criteria before the referendum can be held.
These, O’Neill said, included “a proper establishment of rule of law, proper establishment of a government structure [and] proper disposal of weapons. “All those issues are yet to be met as we speak today,” he added. “I don’t want Papua New Guineans and Bougainvilleans to think that it’s an easy path, that we’ll just wake up tomorrow and have a referendum. “It may be such that it’s not possible.”
Dr Momis said if O’Neill acted on his comments, it would be both unconstitutional and a breach of the Bougainville Peace Agreement. “After the referendum is a different matter,” he said, “with the international community, through the United Nations, at that stage to decide whether what is happening in Bougainville meets international best practice.”
The referendum was formally agreed in 2001 in an internationally endorsed constitutional and legal treaty which brought to a close the bloody 10-year Bougainville civil war, a conflict which cost the lives of an estimated 10-15,000 people.
In fact PNG has long been in breach of the agreement by showing itself unwilling to provide legislated reparations to Bougainville and failing to progress effective institutional arrangements to conduct the referendum.
And, as Dr Momis said, “Weapons disposal, fiscal self-reliance, good governance – all these things are not conditions. “They are considerations that we need to take into account in determining the date for the referendum. That’s all.” In fact, it has been O’Neill’s failure to provide agreed funds and his tardiness in progressing negotiations towards a referendum that represent the main stumbling blocks to progress. Indeed, O’Neill’s lack of consultation, his wilful misinterpretation of what the peace agreement says and his patronising tone may well project the Autonomous Bougainville Government into taking long-considered legal action against the PNG government.

Talk of “successful” PNG election

05 September 2017
… Let’s look at the reaction of PNG economist Busa Wenogo’s itemisation of the many ways in which the election was mismanaged and corrupted:
1) The appointment of returning officers and assistant returning officers seems to have been done without proper screening and/or with the appointment influenced externally. Many of these officials are of questionable character and some have been implicated in foul play in previous elections.
2) There has been a gross abuse of electoral rolls and it could be that the majority of the voting population has not been able to cast a vote. In place of this, cronies of some ‘lucky’ candidates have helped themselves to votes by being able to mark many of those extra ballot papers.
3) Pretty much proven allegations (statistical analysis is compelling) of “ghost names” and extra ballot papers have influenced the result in crucial seats. I suspect the ruling PNC party knew it might not fare well in the elimination process and it did everything in its power to ensure its candidates were declared on the first (primary) count. [Results so far indicate that most PNC candidates leading with a small margin going into the elimination process have been eliminated.]
4) The superficial ‘quality checks’ of counting favour the ruling PNC against others. Cases in point include ‘quality checks’ in Moresby South, Ialibu-Pangia and Tari- Pori compared with Moresby North West and Madang Open. These ‘checks’ were deliberately done swiftly to allow PNC to increase its numbers quickly so that it could be invited by the governor-general to form government.
5) Allowing voting to proceed on a Sunday in Ialibu-Pangia although it is against the organic law on national & local level government elections, that is, unconstitutional.
6) The resignation of the electoral advisory committee over lack of information provided to enable it to do its job.
7) Major election related problems that have lacked effective action from the electoral commission including the return of writs to the governor-general on Friday 28 July without consulting the Registrar of Political Parties & Candidates – and with 20 or so seats still to be declared.
8) The discovery of some 3,000 ballot papers in Goilala District that were been counted.
9) The deliberate delay by the electoral commission in disbursing allowances for staff conducting elections in electorates where non-PNC parties were leading. This was deliberately done to delay the declaration of candidates.
10) Conflicting announcements over who was the duly-elected governor of Hela Province after the earlier declaration of Francis Potape was rescinded. The election manager did this in a very dubious way.
11) William Duma’s declaration made while 28 ballot boxes were to be counted (this has led to violence and the lockdown of Kagamuga airport).
12) In the case of Don Polye, the reluctance of the returning to count 11 remaining ballot boxes led to tragic violence in Enga.
13) In the case of Sir Mekere Morauta, the double declaration where the returning officer declared third placed candidate Joseph Tonde in a hotel witnessed by an EMTV crew and probable relatives of Mr Tonde. A failed attempt by PNC (assisted by the electoral commission) to derail Sir Mek’s push to rally independents and form the government with the NA-Pangu led team.
14) There was more – much more – right across the country. This election will be studied in Papua New Guinea for many years to come. After analysing these events, I question the neutrality of the electoral commission. The 2017 national election will be seen by many people as a failure.
The informal estimate of the death toll relating to the election is 70-80 people. The true figure is not one that officials in either PNG or Australia care to address, at least not in public.
She should reflect on the sad words of the respected Catholic priest, Fr John Glynn, 54 years in Papua New Guinea, in a recent article in PNG Attitude:
“As our newly elected honourable members sit there in their comfortable seats I wonder how many of them give any serious thought to what it cost to put them there in terms of blood spilled, lives lost, homes destroyed, families dispersed, businesses disrupted … and, when Election 2022 comes along, will it be any better?”

Jiwaka, Enga lead country in HIV/AIDS statistics

September 5, 2017The National
JIWAKA has the highest number of people living with HIV/AIDS in the country, according to Cardinal Sir John Ribat, the chairman of the PNG Christian Leaders Alliance on HIV/Aids.
He was in Jiwaka yesterday to open a new regional office for the alliance at Sipil in Banz.
The other eight provinces behind Jiwaka identified as having a high number of people living with HIV/Aids are Enga, Western Highlands, Chimbu, Eastern Highlands, Northern, Morobe, Madang and the National Capital District. Provinces projected to have the highest prevalence rate in PNG are Enga, Jiwaka, Chimbu, Northern, Madang, NCD and Manus.
Sir John said the church must take a leading role in educating the people on HIV/AIDS to reduce its spread. “The church must start carrying out awareness to help stop the population from being infected and affected. You need to get tested now and know your status because the virus is spreading fast,” Sir John said. “I’m appealing to the people of Jiwaka to change their behaviour,” he said.

Profiting from sickness in PNG: The dark economy of public health

07 September 2017
BORNEO Pacific Pharmaceuticals Ltd is yet again the subject of controversy, after the company was contracted this year, at a premium price, to supply medical kits to health centres and aid posts.
Media reports indicate that Borneo Pacific has been given a one year contract worth, K57,738,982.91, to provide medical supplies to health centres and aid posts throughout the country. The alleged value of the contract is substantially higher than the three-year, K71 million contract awarded to Borneo in 2013. Oro Governor, Gary Juffa, has questioned the award, describing it as “controversial and suspicious”. It ought to be kept in mind that in addition to being a member of the Public Accounts Committee, Juffa was deputy chair of the parliamentary committee which recently conducted a review of health sector management, which uncovered worrying evidence on Borneo Pacific’s merchandise. Governor Juffa claims the new contract was signed by the government against the advice of the solicitor general’s office. Echoing concerns raised by The Global Fund’s inspector general, the solicitor general is said to have rejected the draft contract because it was awarded via an unjustifiable certificate of inexpediency, and did not meet procurement procedures set out under part seven of the Public Finance Management Act and part 13 of the Financial Instructions.
This new contract awarded to Borneo Pacific also comes despite an allegation aired in March that a two-year review by the Health Department into the three-year contract granted to Borneo Pacific in 2013, “showed that the quality of service had dropped”. This is an especially concerning indictment given that the goods supplied by Borneo Pacific back in 2013 were already viewed as poor.
Because Borneo Pacific does not publicly release detailed accounts – indeed IPA records indicate it has not submitted an Annual Return since 2011, in violation of the Companies Act 1997 – it is impossible to verify whether it is making significant profits from these deals.

Tuberculosis looms as a potential threat to Apec summit

September 11, 2017 The National
THE high rate of tuberculosis (TB) in the National Capital District poses a health risk to the Apec meeting in Port Moresby next year, according to deputy health secretary Dr Paison Dakulala.
He said NCD had 45 per cent of the TB burden in the country, with more than 30,000 people diagnosed. “PNG is on the list of high-burden countries for TB and multi-drug resistant TB and TB-HIV co-infections,” he said. “This causes a significant impact on the health system and the country’s economy. This has a health security issue for Papua New Guinea and for other countries. “This is specifically important considering the Apec Summit we will be hosting next year, where global players in the industry and firms will be coming. “For several months, they will be having meetings here. One of the big issues we have to deal with is TB.”
He said despite the efforts they had put in to reduce the numbers, they still had poor treatment outcome. He said in Western, they had set up the whole component of direct observed treatment support (Dots) which was functioning well.

4229 People Living with HIV in NCD

Post Courier, September 12, 2017
Out of the 44, 187 people living with HIV (PLHIV) in the country, about 4229 are reported to be living in National Capital District, according to epidemiologist on HIV and sexual transmitted infections (STI) Michelle Budwitz. She said NCD is now the target because of the high prevalence of 1.46 percent and data is very vital to addressing the issue.
She said 3000 PLHIV are on tantiretroviral treatment in the nation’s capital.
“Though we are seeing some improvements in the treatment and care services, more still needs to be done,’’ she said.
She said annually in this country, 16 percent of new infections are new born babies from mother to child transmission, however it could be more if all the clinics in the city are correctly collecting anti-natal clinic data because at the moment not all are doing this.
She said PNG supports the renewed global commitment to work towards ending the AIDS epidemic and this includes a commitment to the 90:90:90 targets.
“By 2020, 90 per cent of all PLHIV will know their HIV status, by 2020, all people with diagnosed HIV infection will receive sustained antiretroviral therapy; by 2020, 90 percent of all people receiving antiretroviral therapy will have viral suppression.
“Under the new HIV and Sexual Health Strategy 2018 to 2020, it is envisaged that to reach 90:90:90 goals requires considerable focus on assisting people with HIV to know their HIV status and access clinical monitoring, treatment care and support.’’

Babies with HIV account for 16pc of new infections

September 12, 2017The National
BABIES account for 16 per cent of the new HIV infections annually in the country, according to Health Department epidemiologist Dr Michelle Budwitz. Speaking at the opening of a National Capital District HIV surveillance training for monitoring and evaluation (M and E) focal persons and service providers in Port Moresby yesterday, Budwitz said: “Data collection is very important in the AIDS programme. “This is really critical because 16 per cent of new infections annually are newborns. “We can prevent that. There shouldn’t be any babies infected with HIV.

Contaminated water is still killing 60 PNGns a week

9 September 2017
Here are some facts about water quality in Papua New Guinea.
Papua New Guinea has the poorest level of access to clean water in the world, with more than 60 percent of the population living without access to clean water. Since 1990, access to clean water has only gone up by 6% and improved sanitation coverage actually dropped by one percent. Of the 15 developing Pacific Island nations, Papua New Guinea has the lowest water and sanitation access indicators. The average cost of 50 litres of water (the minimum amount of water necessary for human sanitation and well-being) in Papua New Guinea’s capital is K8 a day, which is half the average daily salary of K16. Approximately 4.8 million people in Papua New Guinea do not have access to clean water and 6.2 million people do not have a basic toilet. More than 200 children in Papua New Guinea die of diarrhoea each year due to lack of sanitation and clean water.
According to Oxfam New Zealand, contaminated water in PNG kills 368 people every six weeks.
Papua New Guinea launched the national water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) policy in 2015.
These facts about water quality in PNG reveal a serious issue that extends beyond just access to water.

Scourge of leprosy, a disease of the poor, returns to PNG

20 September 2017
PORT MORESBY – Sitting in the car I could see her in the distance – running, half limping.
After a while I got out and moved to the front of the vehicle and waited for her. Rebecca slowed down as she approached but continued towards me. I could see she was excited but, just as she came close, she turned as if to dash away and escape. I grabbed her and held her close to me. Rebecca is a 15-year-old girl who lives on the outskirts of Port Moresby. She is spending her early years living in shame because of her condition. Growing up with leprosy she can see how she is losing both of her feet and her right hand. She is worrying about being deformed. She understands the implications of her predicament and lives in shame. Leprosy and poverty feed off each other. In places where leprosy is widespread, there is often unbearable poverty. Where there is leprosy it is not hard to see disability but it is not only in the hands and feet, it affects the eyes.
PNG boasts of its modern infrastructure development but there is a group of people who will never have the opportunity to benefit from these services because of their physical condition. These people continue to live without proper nutrition, without clean water and in crowded conditions – prominent factors leading to the re-emergence of leprosy. In Papua New Guinea leprosy was announced as being successfully eliminated in 2000 however, in recent years, we have seen it resurface in Western, Gulf, Central and Sandaun provinces and in the National Capital District. The World Health Organisation reports that at the end of the first quarter of 2017, 356 new leprosy cases were recorded. Off this 140 were women and 89 children.
Govt’s removal of powers creates ICAC ‘toothless monster’

21 September 2017
PORT MORESBY – The Papua New Guinea government has amended draft legislation for an Independent Commission Against Corruption to remove some of its most critical powers, opening the doors to political interference. The government is watering down the powers of the ICAC and will be creating exactly the kind of ‘toothless monster’ the secretary for justice has written about.
The government changes were announced at a UPNG Seminar last week by Minister for Justice Davis Stevens. He said the government has removed ICAC’s powers of arrest and prosecution and placed the prime minister in charge of the appointments process for commissioners. Denying ICAC full powers of arrest and prosecution means it will not be able to act independently and effectively to investigate, prosecute and ensure those guilty of corruption are punished.

Independent Commission Against Corruption open

September 26, 2017
THE Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) draft bill is open to more public discussion and that is what the government wants. The public is encouraged to make comments on this important legislation, says Constitutional Law Reform Commission chairman, Dr Eric Kwa.
Dr Kwa also said there is no time frame when the bill gets to the parliament. He was speaking at a radio talkback show with TIPNG chairman, Lawrence Stephens, last week.Bo th shared general views on the draft bill and are encouraged that the government has decided to ask the people for their comments, especially on the appointment of commissioners and the clarity of arresting and prosecution powers as certified in the amended bill. Dr Kwa said the commission will still have some powers to arrest but will give the first call to those mandated by the Constitution to perform functions of arrests. He said the bill will not be rushed, and that there are suggestions the Prime Minister was running the show which was not correct. He reiterated that it is not a one-man decision.
Minister for Justice and Attorney-General, Davis Steven, spoke on proposed law at a forum at the University of PNG recently, saying the consultation with civil society and broad community demonstrated the government’s intention to be open about this important legislation.
Regarding consultation, Mr Steven encouraged the involvement of higher learning institutions in discussing the draft bill apart from the general public and it is a must for the legislation to be more simplified for common people to learn and understand it.
Copies in draft form are available at the Department of Justice.

Refugee rift piques PNG’s anti Australian sentiment

27 September 2017
SYDNEY – As Behrouz Boochani reports from Manus Island, Papua New Guinea, a number of the over 900 refugee men who have been detained there by Australia will soon fly to the United States where, under the fraught deal struck between the US and Australian governments in 2016, they will be allowed to settle. The Australian government is shutting down the detention centre on Manus while many of the refugees who have been detained there over the past four years are demanding, as they have from the beginning, that they be afforded the human right of being permitted to settle in Australia — a country where they are likely to be safe from war, poverty, and persecution.
The agreement, such as it was, is now arguably in tatters. The suffering of the refugees in detention, the abuse of their human rights, has been monumental. Manusians and Papua New Guineans more broadly have had this suffering in their faces, often finding themselves blamed for it, such as when refugees have been attacked by locals outside of detention on the island. Plans to resettle the refugees in the US have been the subject of international scandal, stopping and starting several times before the current assurance that some 50 will be flown there soon. Many of the jobs promised by Australia for the remittance-dependent Manus Island have not materialised, and Manusians (like former parliamentarian Ronny Knight) have repeatedly expressed concern about the volatility of a situation where so many men are held in poor conditions with no realistic exit point in sight.
Many Papua New Guineans feel that Australia has ducked its responsibility to resettle refugees and treated PNG like a dumping ground. Knight has suggested PNG could declare the refugees illegal residents and deport them to Australia, while the PNG Attorney-General has warned that his country is “not going to allow a situation where Australia has withdrawn”.
One senior development consultant, an Australian with decades of experience in the region, told me they’ve never seen such significant anti-Australia sentiment in PNG public discourse….

Plastic Bags – not change…

September 28, 2017
Not much has changed since the ban on the use of plastic bags in Papua New Guinea was introduced in 2005.
People still litter or throw rubbish out of moving vehicles and this creates an eyesore in cities or towns, contributes to the clogging of drains and ultimately endangers marine life when plastics get out into the sea.
Reigniting the fight against the use of plastic bags and trying to conserve marine habitats, Help PNG NGO is currently undertaking a project called “Ban the Bag” initiative.
Help PNG has a mascot called the Plastic Bag Man who goes around selling stickers to the public with the assistance of the NGO’s intern Roberta Leo to encourage people to say no to the use of plastic bags.
They are selling stickers for K5 but have put about 200 stickers for free on PMV buses in Port Moresby to get the public aware of the campaign against plastic bags.
Help PNG NGO chief executive officer Frank Butler said the plastic ban more than 10 years ago was not effective because it was a rushed decision and did not prepare many people, especially the business houses, from stopping the use of or the selling of plastic bags.
“It wasn’t a systematic approach to ban the bag…It was nice gesture but it wasn’t a systematic approach to the tapering off of plastics which is the difference between that (ban) back then and what we’re trying to do now,” Mr Butler said.
“The problem was it was introduced overnight and there was no practical or social preparation done…and that is why it failed.”
Mr Butler said building a recycling plant is unlikely but what can be done is getting people to gradually move away from the use of plastic bags.
“Everybody agrees now that there are too many plastics and it’s not being addressed and we don’t have a system (to properly dispose plastics),” he said.
“The only option is to reduce and then eventually ban the whole thing.”
“It was nice gesture but it wasn’t systematic approach to the tapering off of plastics which is the difference between that back then and what we’re trying to do now.

PNG is 10th in disaster risk index

September 29, 2017The National
PAPUA New Guinea has been ranked as the tenth most disaster-prone country in the world, according to a global disaster risk study. The report by the United Nations University highlighted that the country was exposed to hazards such as earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, tidal waves, coastal inundation, inland flooding, landslides, cyclones, drought, frost and outbreak of diseases.
These are compounded with social and environmental issues of tribal fights, rapid population growth, urbanisation, poor land management and ecosystem degradation. Climate change is reportedly exacerbating the frequency and intensity of climatic hazards in PNG and globally. Recognising this challenge, the National Disaster Centre (NDC) is leading the process of developing PNG’s National Disaster Risk Reduction Framework (NDRRF).

Witchcraft accusation based violence gets international attention for the first time

By Miranda Forsyth and Philip Gibbs…314f0a1fec-312061401
Last week, on 21-22 September 2017, a UN Experts Workshop on Witchcraft and Human Rights was held in Geneva. This was the first UN and international level event with a specific focus on witchcraft beliefs and practices. It brought together a range of key UN office holders, including Kate Gilmore, UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, with academics, activists, faith-based organisations, NGOs and survivors of violence emanating from witchcraft beliefs and practices. This post reflects on the key learnings from the workshop of relevance for Papua New Guinea.
The workshop’s intended focus was on practical ways forward to counter the harmful practices that accompany witchcraft and sorcery beliefs, rather than just exploring the social, cultural, economic and political factors that contribute to them. These harmful practices include the torture, murder and banishment of those accused of using witchcraft or sorcery. Speakers came from many parts of Africa, India and across Europe.
PNG’s journey in challenging sorcery accusation based violence and its Sorcery National Action Plan (SNAP) was also presented. PNG was favourably compared with many other countries in the world in terms of the leadership of its government, the range and comparatively co-ordinated nature of the activities being undertaken, and the evidence-based approach it has adopted. There was widespread agreement that these issues must be tackled in a comprehensive and multi-sectoral way. The workshop revealed new layers of support that PNG should draw upon going forward, including experiences from other countries in overcoming these types of violence and the international mechanisms that may be of assistance.
Widespread harm caused by sorcery practices and beliefs world-wide
There are a wide – and likely growing – range of abuses arising from the belief in sorcery and witchcraft around the world. These are particularly evident in many parts of Africa and India, but also increasingly in the UK and Europe as a result of migration and, disturbingly, sexual slavery. Many speakers referred to harmful practices “spreading like wildfire” and “hitting us like a tsunami” with the clear implication of increasing levels of abuse. Although the content and technologies of the beliefs and harmful practices varied enormously geographically and historically, there were also some striking shared themes. These include extreme levels of violence against those accused of using witchcraft, relative impunity of perpetrators, malleability of beliefs and practices, their appearance and reappearance over time, their persistence in the face of modernisation and even education, and their harshest impact being on the weakest and most vulnerable. The transmission and communication of both beliefs in witchcraft and the harmful practices associated with them occurs rapidly through migration and the internet and social and other media. Movies dramatising witchcraft beliefs and practices were argued to be a significant factor in the spread of such beliefs and practices; PNG should consider this in the regulation of its film industry.
The geographic variations of beliefs and practices within many countries gives rise to important questions about the most appropriate scale at which to regulate. In this regard, India’s approach is perhaps instructive for PNG, as legislation targeting particular harmful practices such as witch-hunting are made at the provincial level. This ensures appropriate cultural targeting and assists in ensuring that those who are most vulnerable are made aware of the laws that exist to protect them, and how to find pathways to access them.
The International community’s willingness to engage
There was active participation throughout the two days by a wide range of UN Special Rapporteurs (on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions; on violence against women, its causes and consequences; on the rights of persons with disabilities; on the enjoyment of human rights by persons with albinism) and other members of the international community (the OHCHR, the Office of Special Representative of the Secretary General on violence against children, and many permanent missions in Geneva). They conveyed the clear message that harmful practices arising from witchcraft beliefs and practices fall squarely within the purview of the UN’s mandate to protect human rights. The workshop was stated by the Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights to be a “much needed and overdue” opportunity to focus on intersections between witchcraft and human rights. Speakers outlined a number of mechanisms that could be used to put pressure on state governments to be more actively engaged. These included working with UN representatives and human rights institutions on the local level, utilising reporting mechanisms in a variety of international conventions, and requesting Special Rapporteurs to open enquiries into systematic abuses of human rights.
The necessity for engagement by the international level was demonstrated by the fact that in many countries national government action to counter witchcraft-related harms was largely notable by its absence. A common theme of the workshop was the impunity of perpetrators and the unwillingness of state justice systems to properly execute their duty to protect citizens from abuse where witchcraft beliefs and practices are present, either due to lack of capacity, fear, complicity or combinations of the three. Kate Gilmore argued that the abuses flowing from witchcraft beliefs and practices stemmed from a range of state failures, including the failure to provide adequate justice, health and education.
One of the key recommendations made at the event was a proposal for a UN special resolution on witchcraft and human rights to be made in 2019.
The role of spiritual entrepreneurs
A wide range of classes of people who benefit financially and otherwise from people’s beliefs in witchcraft was discussed.  Academic Jean La Fontaine has coined the useful term ‘supernatural entrepreneurs’ to cover this entire category. It ranges from traditional healers, many of whom also or mostly deliver essential primary healthcare, and those who profit by selling charms or trinkets, to those far more dangerous individuals who profit by identifying particular individuals for a fee, through to emerging linkages between witchcraft beliefs and practices and human trafficking.  There was uniform condemnation of such practices but little concrete evidence of any successful or even serious attempts by states to prosecute the perpetrators. It was widely agreed that there is a pressing need to expose and stop those who profit in such ways.  The problem of diviners has been noted in PNG and the call to target them made by many, including the judiciary who referred to them as “a scourge on society” who “fan the flames” of sorcery related killings in a recent judgment. International experience reinforces the urgency and importance of addressing this issue, and also suggests that it must be done carefully to ensure that traditional healers are not unjustly implicated.
Specific initiatives
A number of programs that offer genuine potential to address and prevent the harmful practices stemming from beliefs in witchcraft were discussed. It was noticeable that these were almost all developed by faith based organisations or civil society, with very little state involvement. Three that offer most relevance for PNG are:
• Mission Birubala in Assam province in India, which has five different components to its program: Rescue and Rehabilitation; Awareness Meetings; Sensitization Camps; Free Health Camps; and Formation of Student-Cells to mobilise youth to raise awareness.
• Train the trainer initiative led by missionary anthropologist Steven Rasmussen who coordinates regular seminars in Tanzania on Christian responses to witchcraft accusations. He has developed a monitoring system or pathway for religious leaders so members of congregations can alert others if they are creating circumstances for harmful practices to arise.
• Stop Child Witch Accusations organisation in Africa, particularly the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It has developed potentially transformational roles for church agencies in changing attitudes and harmful practices associated with witchcraft.

Part II of this post will discuss some of the key issues of debate and discussion at the workshop.

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