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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Social Concerns Notes – August 2017

Flight into the night: saving a precious Bosavi baby

1 August 2017

I RECEIVED the call from Keith Kedekai in Tari at 2.30pm. A woman was in labour at Mt Bosavi. The people there wanted a doctor’s opinion about whether she should be referred.

Receiving the call from Tari, I said I couldn’t make a decision without more details. This type of case would need a medivac which means that an MAF plane would have to be located.

It turned out the Rumginae MAF planes were in Kiunga but the pilots had reached their maximum flying hours and were temporarily grounded. Then the community health worker at Bosavi called me. She’d had to walk a long distance to get to an area with phone reception. She said the woman had been in latent labour for nearly a week. She was 4cm dilated and her waters had broken. This was her fifth baby and all four previous babies had been stillborn. The community health worker thought the presenting part was transverse with arm or knee presentation with other complications. This mother definitely needed an emergency evacuation to the nearest hospital by MAF.

I let Dr Brandon know and she agreed the woman was for medivac to whatever hospital was convenient for MAF. It turned out MAF’s Mt Hagen based plane was in Kiunga and was able to fly to Bosavi to pick up the patient. Rumginae pilot Marcus arranged the flight which would cost k7,200 – a 50% discount because Rumginae is a church-run organisation. Keith Kedekai agreed to pay the money, saying that’s the price to save a life. I gave the community health worker at Bosavi the go ahead and she asked the sub-health centre people know to prepare the mother for travel.

I went for a 6km run and I arrived back to hear the drone of the MAF plane in its red, blue and white lifesaving colours. I couldn’t believe the plane had picked up the woman because it was so late in the day. MAF can only fly during daylight hours. It turned out that there was just one minute of daylight left as they landed, which left the pilot stranded in Rumginae for the night. After reviewing this woman and who was well overdue and with all previous children stillborn, it was decided to undertake a caesarean section. I did the caesarean assisted by our resident, Dr Sakias. And so a bouncing 3.2kg baby girl was born at 9.15pm. There was major bleeding and Dr Brandon stepped in to locate the source and managed to arrest it. Then the power went off as it was 10pm and time for the hospital generator to shut down. For a while we were in total darkness fixing the bleeder but thankfully the solar power kicked in and the lights came back on. Thanks to all the staff members, students, Dr Brandon and Dr Sakias for helping to save this woman and her child. And not forgetting MAF for going out of their way to fly her to Rumginae.


Woman Dies on Way to Hospital

August 17, 2017

A pregant woman from Porgera in Enga Province died last Wednesday after travelling from Wabag to Mt Hagen to get medical treatment at Mt Hagen general hospital. Mambissanda Lutheran hospital chief executive officer, Dr Raymond Saulep said the woman travelled from Porgera to Wabag but could not get help due to its closure so she travelled to Mambissanda hospital in Wapenamanda.

She could not get help in Wapenamanda and was referred to Mt Hagen hospital to undergo surgery.

Dr Saulep said that on her way to Mt Hagen the woman died after losing her unborn child.

He said fighting between two rival candidates in Kandep had cost lives and affected the flow of government services. This has also affected the health centre and it could not do much with limited equipment, especially for surgery.


Hefty Transport Costs Bit Chunks out of Remote School Budgets

August 16, 2017

A joint research project undertaken by the National Economic and Fiscal Commission (NEFC), in partnership with the Department of Education (DoE), has revealed that alarming transport costs are preventing schools in remote areas from fully utilizing their school fee subsidies.

The Tuition Fee Free (TFF) education policy clearly demarcates a forty per cent administration component, with the remaining 60 percent to be split equally between the infrastructure component and the teaching and learning component. However, the study, titled “Go Long Ples: Reducing inequality in education funding”, revealed that more than half the total budget of schools in extremely remote areas was being eaten up by transport costs alone. According to the study, schools in moderately accessible locations spent approximately 10 percent of their budget on transport related costs. To purchase a similar basket of goods in more remote locations subsequently increased a school’s transport cost to an estimated minimum of up to a staggering 56 percent of their total budget.


PNGs Challenges and Opportunities

PNG’s new government is proposing a 100 day plan. What should this consider? A good plan begins by fully understanding the challenges and opportunities facing its people. On opportunities, PNG leads the world in key areas such as its cultural richness (1st), the extent of its tropical forests (3rd for the entire island), and its extraordinary biodiversity (PNG is one of 17 megadiverse countries in the world).

In going forward, PNG needs to change its self-image of “mountains of gold in seas of oil”. This myth (at least in world terms) has delivered appalling development outcomes for PNG. There are much better development paths. A better self-image would be “mountains of culture in rich seas of diversity” – or something similar.  (Suggestions would be welcome – but about people not minerals).

I hope the 100 day plan takes a much more people-orientated approach to PNG’s development. This is a key lesson from its failed economic development to date.  May PNG’s new politicians do much better.


The best comparative database source for PNG’s development progress, focused around internationally agreed sustainable development goals, is the ADB Basic Statistics publication – most recently updated in April 2017 – see here.

45 countries in the Asia-Pacific are included. For some indicators, information is not collected for every country. The following list provides some key comparative information – and it generally makes for some pretty sad reading:

  • In PNG, an estimated 39.3% of the population live below the $US1.90 per day poverty line in 2014. This is by far the lowest of the 26 countries with information (the next lowest is 21.2% in India).
  • The prevalence of stunting amount children under the age of 5 is 49.5%, ranking 29th of the 30 countries with only Timor-Leste having a slightly higher figure of 50.2%.
  • The prevalence of malnutrition (wasting) among children under 5 is 14.3%, the highest rate for the 30 countries.
  • The prevalence of malnutrition (overweight) among children under 5 is 13.8%, the 4th highest rate for the 30 countries.
  • The maternal mortality ratio per 100,000 live births is 215, the equal 3rd highest of 40 countries with information.
  • The under 5 mortality rate per 1,000 live births is 57, the 4th highest of 43 countries.
  • The number of new HIV aids infections in 2015 is 0.36 per 1,000 of the uninfected population, the highest of 21 countries.
  • The tuberculosis incidence per 100,000 population is 432, the 2nd highest of 44 countries.
  • The incidence of malaria per 1,000 population is 185, nearly double the next highest country of 90 in Timor Leste.
  • The death rate due to road traffic injuries per 100,000 of the population is 16.8, 18th of 44 countries.
  • The Mortality Rate Attributed to Household and Ambient Air Pollution per 100,000 population is 46.3, 32nd of 43 countries.
  • The Mortality Rate Attributed to Unsafe Water, Unsafe Sanitation, and Lack of Hygiene is 12.4, 7th of 40 countries.
  • The Proportion of Population Using Improved Drinking Water Sources is 40%, by far the lowest of the 43 countries (the next highest rate is Afghanistan with 55.3%)
  • The Proportion of Population Using Improved Sanitation Facilities is 18.9%, significantly below the next lowest ranking country of Afghanistan with 31.9%.
  • The proportion of the population with access to electricity is 20.3%, once again significantly below the next lowest ranking country of Vanuatu with 34.5%. Interestingly in the energy context, renewable energy represents 50% of energy consumption, the 7th highest share of 41 countries.


PNG also has great opportunities.

  • PNG’s population of 8.48 million culturally diverse people is its greatest asset. PNG’s population is 21st largest of the 45 countries in the Asia-Pacific region. More significantly, PNG unambiguously leads the world with the rich cultural diverseness of this population. With 840 distinct language and cultural  groupings, PNG has an extraordinary resource in a globalising world.
  • Surely there are people smart enough in PNG to tap into this world leading resource both as an export market as well as a tourist destination. The latest display of PNG’s cultures being translated into gorgeous fashions (PNG’s Fashion Week is a small example of this potential. The actual volume of exports might not be as large as an LNG project, but most LNG revenues go to overseas bankers and investors anyway.
  • PNG’s land mass is 464 million square kilometres – the 11th largest in the region and larger than other countries such as Vietnam, Malaysia and the Philippines – and more than four times larger than countries such as South Korea. After the Amazon and Congo, the island of New Guinea is the third largest rainforest in the world. These forests face threats from logging, mining, wildlife trade and agricultural plantations, particularly palm oil. These forest resources are being exploited with very poor returns to local communities. And most in PNG know the power behind why the SABLs where never examined under the last government (and won’t be under this one).
  • And PNG is honoured by being one of only 17 megadiverse countries in the world.

PNG of course needs to continue to use its natural resources – hopefully on better terms than in the past. But the real way forward is looking at new opportunities with greater potential for women, the rural poor and small businesses.


Cash politics Rampant in NCD Elections

Post Courier, August 9th.

Port Moresby police chief Benjamin Turi has spoken frankly about being offered bribes in the recently concluded National Election. Mr Turi said some candidates had even gone as far as to call him on his private number and offered bribes. “They did try to go beyond this, calling me on the phone and I said ‘no’, I will never change my course. I’ll be fair to everyone, and I told them to get lost,” he said.

Chief Superintendent Turi’s metropolitan command covers the Regional seat of National Capital District, Moresby Northeast, Moresby Northwest, and Moresby South. He also admitted that a number of police officers involved in the NCD election operations had admitted that they had been offered bribes during the course of the election in NCD.


PNGs Tropicl Forests Could Vanish

Post Courier, August 17, 2017

According to new studies, half of Papua New Guinea’s tropical forests could vanish by 2021.

This is due to illegal logging, manmade fires and constant farming of cash crops and food gardens.

The study conducted by the University of Papua New Guinea and an Australian University found that the loss of the world’s third-largest rain forest would destroy a wealth of unique flora and fauna and deprive the region of a natural defense against global warming.

Analyzing three decades of satellite imagery, the researchers found that 19.8 million acres of forest was lost between 1972 and 2002. Forests were being cleared or degraded at an alarming rate of 1.4 per cent a year, and researchers fear that  83 percent of the country’s accessible forest – and 53 per cent of its total forested area – will be gone or severely damaged by 2021. The report advised the government to employ forest sustainability programs, including stricter regulation of the commercial logging industry, which brings in annual revenue of £90 million but is one of the main drivers of forest destruction. It also encouraged a better sharing of resources among the population and more comprehensive land-use education for farmers.


Call to help people facing food shortage in Goilala

August 22, 2017  National

A PRIEST in Central is appealing for help after noticing the food shortage experienced by people living near his parish. Father Thaddeus Hoem from the Fane parish in Goilala told The National that people were becoming sick because of the lack of food. He said nurses in the parish clinic were having a hard time attending to the sick people. Hoem, who has been serving there for a year and three months, said it was hard to grow crops because the land was dry. “I visited families and their food gardens and noticed that the place was all dried up and not much food crops have grown,” he said.
Medicine supply will also become a problem if the situation is not addressed quickly, he added.
“I call on responsible government agencies like the National Disaster Centre to go there and have a look and assess themselves what I’m saying


Farming seen as answer to inadequate diet in prisons

August 23, 2017 National

THE Correctional Services will be launching a farming policy to support detainees, says Commissioner Michael Waipo. Waipo said that with the current issue CS was facing, the Correctional Service was looking into farming prison land to support the detainees. The National Court has ordered the Bomana jail and the CS generally to serve better, nutritious meals to detainees. “The policy is now in place and detainees in every institution are willing to work on the land five days a week. “We have land and labour but we cannot drive this important programme because of no budget to resource our Rehabilitation and Prison Industry Policy. “All we need is a little capital support to drive the programme.”
Shortage of Medicine.

Post Courier  August 30, 2017

Lack of coordination between the Health Department and its area medical stores coupled with funding hiccups by Finance is causing havoc at major hospitals throughout the country. Hospitals throughout Papua New Guinea, including the major Port Moresby General Hospital, have been complaining in the past few months about the shortage of drugs and basic medicines in their pharmacies. By close of business yesterday, Post-Courier had spoken to about 12 general hospitals, among them Kimbe, Daru, Rabaul, Mt Hagen, Buka, Kerema, Vanimo and Mendi that said they had medical drug shortages.

The Health Department was contacted, Health Minister Sir Puka Temu and Health Secretary, Pascoe Kase are on duty travel abroad and the paper could not reach acting secretary, Elva Lionel yesterday.

Sir Puka told an all-staff meeting at Health headquarters soon after his appointment early this month that fixing the medical supplies issue was one of the highest priorities for the new Government.

Post-Courier was also told later that the area Medical Stores was now full to capacity with medical supplies and drugs, but there was no coordination among the distributors to distribute the supplies.

All area medical stores contacted yesterday refused to comment on why there was drugs shortage when stores were now full.

Contractors said area medical stores were fully stocked but medicines could not be distributed to hospitals, due to lack of coordination between the Health Department and the medical stores but the underlying problem was lack of funding.

Short changed: the cost of child undernutrition in Papua New Guinea

August 24, 2017

Papua New Guinea (PNG) is facing a nutrition crisis. Alarmingly, almost one in two children in PNG have stunted growth from chronic malnutrition.[i] PNG has the fourth highest child stunting rate in the world – a rate that is more than double the global average. Not only does malnutrition pose a threat to the survival and development of children in PNG, it also poses a major threat to sustainable economic growth. Evidence shows that if a child is malnourished during the first 1000-day period from conception to their second birthday, they will suffer cognitive and physical impairments that are permanent and irreversible. These impairments limit a child’s education and employment prospects. Reduced individual earnings translate into reduced economic productivity at the national level. This is how malnutrition can trap children in an intergenerational cycle of poverty.

According to national data in PNG, approximately 33% of all hospital deaths of children under five are either directly or indirectly caused by malnutrition. However, in a new report commissioned by Save the Children, Frontier Economics estimates that malnutrition could be the underlying cause of up to 76% of total deaths of children under five across community and health facilities combined[ii] – a figure significantly higher than the global estimate of deaths of children under five associated with malnutrition at 45%. Evidence also suggests that childhood undernutrition can increase mortality risks later in life, with stunted children more susceptible to obesity, coronary heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

Frontier Economics estimates that child undernutrition cost the PNG economy the equivalent of $USD508 million in the financial year 2015-16 (2.81% of its annual GDP) through three main pathways:

  1. Losses in productivity from a reduction in labour force due to increased childhood mortality, estimated at $USD46 million (0.26% of GDP);
  2. Losses from increased health care expenditure in treating diseases associated with childhood undernutrition, estimated at $USD3 million (0.02% of GDP).

These losses significantly exceed PNG’s projected health and education sector budgets for 2017 – $USD385 million and $USD366 million respectively. However, the estimated cost of $USD508 million is regarded as conservative, and Frontier Economics posits that the economic cost of child undernutrition could be as high as $USD1.5 billion per annum – 8.45% of GDP – using alternative assumptions. Despite the enormous toll of child undernutrition on PNG’s economy, little progress has been made in tackling this challenge over the past two decades. Indeed, the child stunting rate appears to have worsened from 43.5% in 2005 to 49.5% in 2015.

Contrary to popular belief, food insecurity is not the main driver of such high child malnutrition rates in PNG. Rather, these rates are largely attributable to low rates of exclusive breastfeeding in the first six months; sub-optimal infant and child feeding practices, and a high prevalence of diseases associated with lack of access to safe drinking water and sanitation, such as diarrheal disease.

It is clear there is an urgent need for targeted investments to improve child nutrition in PNG, particularly those aimed at increasing the rate of exclusive breastfeeding, and promoting infant safe and hygienic infant and child feeding practices in the critical 1000 day period up to a child’s second birthday.


Better Catholic Education Services

August 28, 2017

The CATHOLIC church continues to play a big role in the development of education in Papua New Guinea and is planning on delivering more and better education services. Yesterday the National Catholic Education Commission and representatives from the Education Department and various key development partners witnessed the launching of the commission’s five year (2017-2021) strategic plans. Chairman of the strategic plan committee, Fr Paul Jennings said the five-year plan is the result of thorough analysis of expectations of people who would like to see how education will be like in the future. “The plan is incorporated with its historical pillars into the modern society in bringing quality education in a culture that is complex and changing.

The strategic plan is in line with this year’s education theme ‘quality for improved education standard’ to build capacity of both teachers and education leaders and managers.

National Catholic education secretary, Michael Ova said the pillars in the plan include Catholic identity and mission, quality teaching learning, staff and student wellbeing, eadership and management.

“In national statics review there is no doubt education standard is falling. These pillars will enhance competency and skills, create and enable environment for teachers in catholic institution.

“In the long run, the plan will empower better qualification, lift standard to student’s performance and value and leadership in education.


How are we going in educating our kids? Backwards

21 August 2017

One of the positive trends of globalisation is the mass mobilisation of human labour beyond people’s cultural or ethnic demarcation and Papua New Guineans educated in PNG do – and increasingly will – live and work elsewhere in the world.

This thought leads me to consider the kind of education have we provided for our young people over the last 20 years and whether we have the best education plan for this country.

How do we measure and evaluate the success rate of PNG education policy over the last 20 years?

It may be unpatriotic to raise my voice on the shortcomings evident in national policy but the declining trend in educational quality is appalling and it demands the attention of all of us who care to find an alternative and more successful model as a priority matter.

I want to share with you the first-hand experience of a PNG classroom teacher. …..

Everywhere you go in PNG, classrooms are full to the brim. We do not have the ability in such crowded classrooms to adequately supervise individual students. So what we do is stand in front, deliver the lesson and walk out of the door when the bell rings.

Textbooks are almost non-existent in each of the departments. Those of you who went to school prior to education reform will recall that we were issued textbooks at the beginning of the school year.

But over the last five or six years, my school has not receive any new textbooks under the government’s tuition fee free policy.

So my students do not have textbooks. They come into class, sit down and listen to what the teachers tell them. They copy what teachers write on the blackboard even if it is erroneous or irrelevant. They believe it to be the truth because there’s no other source by which they can find out.

Students’ understanding of the world beyond is limited.  If you ask them to name five cities in Australia, they can’t. Moreover, the English language is too much for them to grasp. In many cases they have given up trying. Some students cannot do simple arithmetic or write a simple sentence in English and yet they are in the classroom because that’s where the government says every child must be. There is lack of motivation among students to excel academically because they know they will still move to the next level of schooling regardless of their capability. In these conditions, teachers lose enthusiasm. This leads to attitude and behaviour problems with some students. We spend much time trying to control errant behaviour. And, it should be noted, teachers are educators, not law enforcers.

Teacher absenteeism is high in some schools because headmasters themselves may not be committed – getting drunk and socialising using school funds and failing to monitor their staff or the operations of the school. If the current education policy is not working to the advantage of our children, we have to discard it. We must come up with an alternative model that is best for Papua New Guinea.

And it is my view that we have to do this soon.

PNG after the elections: reimagining the future by reflecting on the past

August 18, 2017

by Fiona Hukula

I would like to share some thoughts on PNG after the elections. My reflections are based on nearly twenty years’ experience as a researcher. It has been a little over a week since PNG’s 10th National Parliament convened. The last three months has been a busy time for election officials, media and security personnel. In some places elections have been relatively peaceful. People voted and life carried on, but in other parts of the country, violence and the unnecessary and unfortunate loss of lives has marred these elections. My observation of media reports and preliminary findings from research into women and elections in Morobe by my colleagues Mary Fairio and Sarah Kaut-Nasengom reveals that flawed electoral rolls have led to great disappointment for many people who have not been able to cast their vote.

On the international agenda, APEC 2018 is a key event that will help shape Papua New Guinea’s future. At the national level, the Bougainville referendum will be an important event for PNG as the outcome of the referendum will not only dictate the political future of Bougainville and PNG but it will also set a precedent for those provinces advocating autonomy.

Women leaders

Unfortunately for the next five years, we shall not be seeing any women on the floor of parliament. In her inaugural address, the United States Ambassador Ms Catherine Ebert-Grey stated that the fact that we have no women in parliament should be of grave concern. While this is a depressing outcome of the elections it also clearly indicates the need to reassess and re-strategise how we think about this issue.

I think we need to look at the bigger picture. In analysing the performance of some of the women who came in the top three places for certain seats, we can see that women are receiving votes. For example, Delilah Gore led in the first preference votes and the second preference votes. She lost by just over 200 votes in the final count.

In terms of reflecting on how to get women into parliament, the experiences of female candidates are crucial, as are the experiences of former female parliamentarians. While we may not have women in parliament now, we do know from experience that women can be voted into parliament – this has happened on more than one occasion. For example, Mrs Nahau Rooney, Dame Josephine Abaijah and Dame Carol Kidu were all elected into parliament more than once, so we know from the past that we can elect women into parliament; it is getting women into parliament at every election that is the challenge.

We also know that women are leaders in their communities. In my experience of researching both in urban and rural communities, everywhere I have worked, women leaders always turn up when research meetings are organised and they articulate their concerns clearly. The leadership capabilities of women at the local level is evident as we know from the last local level government elections where forty-five women were voted into local government, with a couple as Town Mayors.

As Papua New Guineans, we need to ask ourselves the hard questions such as, should we be talking about getting women into parliament in terms of gender equality and participation or should we be talking about what makes a good leader? Also, when we talk about getting women into parliament, are we using the right language when addressing different audiences?

Getting women into parliament is not only about discussing these issues in forums such as the PNG Update, but in my view it is also about trying our best to understand the ways in which our people think about gender. I make this comment because often this issue is viewed as a western agenda, maybe because we use words and definitions that are not familiar to the majority of our people. But if we look back to the Constitutional Planning Committee (CPC) report of 1974 we see that this was something that our leaders clearly thought about. If we take off the western gender lens that we often use to have these discussions and start to unpack gender relations in a way that allows us to see the worldview of our people, we will start to map a way forward that is inclusive of everyone.


A lot of the debate around having women in parliament is hinged on the idea of gender equality and equal participation in the development of this country. We use this word ‘development’ but what does it mean to different communities? For some it means access to good roads so they can sell their cocoa and coffee and access health care. For others, it may mean access to clean water and sanitation, for some it may mean four-lane highways and a mall. This one word can trigger discussions about all kinds of things and the ways that we imagine development and our future.

As a nation, we have created some great plans and launched many policies and programs in different sectors with the future in mind and with development in mind. Many of our plans and strategies are anchored in the National Goals and Directive Principles. But how many of us know the National Goals and Directive Principles? I must admit that I am not that well versed with the National Goals and Directive Principles but sometimes when I read things about how we treat each other as Papua New Guineans or how different people imagine their future and especially when I see the growing inequalities between our people I go back and try to acquaint myself better with the National Goals and Directive Principles.

I also like to – every now and then – read bits and pieces of the Constitutional Planning Committee report just to remind myself of what the members of the CPC imagined our future to be. As a researcher whose work is now mostly in the urban sphere, there are two statements from the CPC that I often read. I will only read the first part here of paragraph 116:

We see the darkness of neon lights, we see the despair and loneliness in urban cities. We see the alienation from man that is the result of the present machine oriented economy. We see true social security and man’s happiness being diminished in the name of economic progress.

When I read this, I can see that the future was predicted accurately, but then two paragraphs later the CPC report states:

Our ways emphasise community. We exercise our rights in the context of our obligations to our community.

This sentence alone gives me some sense of hope because yes in the urban context we are now seeing increased poverty in our cities but also in my experience of growing up in this city, of living in an urban settlement as part of my PhD, and of my more recent research with urban village courts, I can see that we still hold firm many of these traits which we call our Papua New Guinean ways.

In the urban setting, we exercise these ideals by doing kinship through our street, church, sporting and work communities and it is through this sense of belonging that we need to start to address the many social issues that we face as a nation, including our high rates of violence, gender based violence (not just domestic violence but sorcery related accusation violence which many of our people suffer from) and child abuse. For when we start to harness the positive things about who we are – as people from different provinces and regions – we will build a better future for our children and their children.

Finally, my call today to you as my fellow academics, policy makers and students is to start to decolonise the way we think about development, let’s strive to understand our people better instead of resorting to calling ourselves uncivilised and uneducated when our people fail to understand concepts and words that are not in their vernacular. Instead let’s build on our strengths and work towards localising global concepts such as the SDGs, so that we can meet our international commitments, but also so that we can see the change that we want to see in our country.


Mr. Douglas Tennent has returned to PNG

9 August 2017

Catholic Archdiocese of Rabaul

On Friday, 9June, in the afternoon, two officers from the Office of the Immigration and Citizenship Service Authority came from Port Moresby to serve Mr.Douglas Tennent with a “Notice of Cancellation of Entry Permit” and “Direction as to Custody and Removal Order”.

Now, exactly two months later, more or less at the same time the notice of deportation was served, Mr. Douglas Tennent will be with us again at Vunapope, ready to continue his work.

First of all, we wish to thank God for the return of Doug to PNG and to us. We also want to thank all those – and they are many indeed – who helped us in one way or another, above all for their prayers, for their moral support and for standing with us. These two months have been difficult for Mr. Tennent and they have been difficult for all of us as well. But we are grateful that this ordeal is now over.

In these last few days, quite a number of people have been asking why we have accepted conditions imposed by Papua New Guinea Immigration and Citizenship Service Authority, in order to facilitate the return of Mr. Douglas Tennent.

There are two conditions:

  • That Douglas Tennent is not to be involved in activities that are deemed to be activism in nature and create disharmony amongst land owners;
  • That Douglas Tennent is to obtain the necessary Certificate of Clearance from the Attorney-General and a Practicing Certificate from the Law Society if his work involves providing any legal advice on PNG Laws and judicial processes.

In regard to the second condition, the Archdiocese of Rabaul has no issue at all and therefore we will fully comply. 
As background information concerning the first condition, we want to make public what the Acting Chief Migration Officer wrote: “We had received by way of a complaint that you were involved in sensitive landowner issues in which landowners from the West-Mamusi LLG argued that they were grossly misled by you to sign legal documents. Your involvement as reported to us was that you provided legal advice and prepared agreement instruments to rally support of landowners against their interest for a development project. Your involvement on landowner issues is demonstrably activism and had incited discord among landowners which is a serious breach of your visa condition even though you had acted upon instruction of Archbishop Panfilo of the Rabaul Catholic Diocese”.

Both Douglas Tennent and the Archbishop are happy to comply on the basis that it is the mission of the Church to promote peace, unity and harmony. Incidentally, the motto of the Archdiocese of Rabaul is: “ut unum sint”, “that they may be one”. A strategy of dividing people in order to rule them is not a practice that belongs in the Catholic Church.

People have been asking why we have agreed to discontinue all court proceedings against the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Acting Chief Migration Officer, considering that the restraining order of 12 June was not complied with, nor was the subsequent Court Order of 7 July. It is also to be remembered that the removal of Mr.Tennent was carried out in an ambush type manner; we were given no clear explanation as to why the removal occurred; we were given no opportunity to respond; we were not able to exercise our appeal rights. Incidentally, the accusations mentioned above as background for condition number one were relayed to us only on a letter by the Acting Chief Migration Officer a week ago, on 3 August 2017.

Yes, no apology came from the Minister of Foreign Affairs nor from the Acting Chief Migration Officer, who, in the first place, should have verified the accusations lodged against Mr. Douglas Tennent and the Archbishop by a lone landowner, who was brought to Port Moresby on a charted plane for this purpose by powerful and influential people.

Our Lord Jesus has taught us to love one another, to forgive our enemies and to pray for those who persecute us. If we don’t do this ourselves, how can we preach it to others?

As followers of Christ we believe in cooperation and in adopting a conciliatory approach. The Catholic Church values partnership with the Government in terms of the delivery of services and advocating for the poor, the marginalized and the vulnerable. It was our involvement in this work that led to the deportation of Mr. Douglas Tennent and caused tension in the relationship between the Catholic Church and the State. Such tension only results in harm, mistrust and damage.  It is hoped that in the future, if issues arise, such as they did with the work of Mr. Douglas Tennent, there will be consultation and dialogue in order to reach a clear understanding of the matter at hand before action is taken. We do not want to see situations such as the deportation of Douglas Tennent occur again.


+ Francesco Panfilo, SDB Archbishop of Rabaul

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Social Concerns Notes – July 2017

No Women in PNG Parliament   NBC News

With the remaining 23 seats yet to be declared, it looks almost certain that Papua New Guinea will not have any women representation in the upcoming Parliament. Two of the three first-time women MP’s, Loujaya Kouza and Delilah Gore have already been voted out, while it is yet to be ascertained, at the time of this report, how their Eastern Highlands governor colleague, Julie Soso, is doing. 165 women were among the 3,332 total candidates who contested the 2017 national election, however, results are showing that almost none of them will come out winners.

But notable performances were that of Trust PNG Party and Central Provincial candidate, Rufina Peter, who had polled in third place with 33,221 votes when governor-elect Robert Agarobe was declared at 40,931 votes yesterday. The other outstanding performance is that of PNG National Party candidate contesting the Raicoast Open Seat in Madang, Kessy Sawang. Ms Sawang has managed to cling on to third spot as of elimination 33 last night, to see the exclusion of sitting MP and Triumph Heritage Empowerment Party candidate, James Gau. Ms Sawang was eliminated on third spot to enable the win of new MP Peter Gemungo Sapia, over local musician and National Alliance candidate, Edwin Baffe.


Resignation of committee prompts fears of tainted process

11 July 2017

THE resignation of all three members of Papua New Guinea’s electoral committee has prompted fears from current and former officials that the process has been tainted. After two weeks of voting, PNG’s parliamentary elections are ending, with results set to be announced later this month. On Sunday, the government’s Election Advisory Committee  – Ombudsman Richard Pagen, Richard Kassman and Professor John Luluaki – resigned, citing a lack of resources to monitor the election process. The mass departure signalled a “sad day” for the country, according to former prime minister and candidate, Sir Mekere Morauta. “The members of the EAC are all extremely capable men of high integrity,” said Sir Mekere,

“They will not have taken the decision to resign lightly. They have resigned because they have been ignored by the electoral commissioner and prevented from fulfilling their obligations and their role, which they take seriously.

Sir Mekere, who served as the country’s sixth prime minister between 1999 and 2002, said Australia must take some of the blame for the chaos. “Australia has nurtured the O’Neill regime and the election process. It must take some responsibility for the chaos,” he said.

The elections were marred by violence, vote-buying and flaws in the electoral roll, observers said. Strikes in the country’s capital of Port Moresby postponed the vote for three days, while students at a university in the city of Lae complained about a lack of ballot papers.

Counting is underway and the Commonwealth Observer Group, which monitored the polling, gave a generally positive assessment. “Our group is of the view that, despite the considerable challenges with the common roll, there were some positive aspects of the process and the results should reflect the wishes of the people who participated in the 2017 national elections,” COG head Anand Satyanand said in a statement.


Disenfranchised at high price: PNG’s electoral roll woes

July 5, 2017   by Sam Koim

Nine consecutive elections held since independence and yet Papua New Guinea is still struggling to update its common roll on time for elections. As polling gets underway in PNG, complaints of common roll discrepancies are emerging from across the country. In a kneejerk reaction to these complaints, the Electoral Commissioner issued an instruction to revert to an updated version of the 2012 rolls. This is despite earlier assurances that everything was under control. …..

How much have the taxpayers of PNG paid for the common roll discrepancies? For the failed National Identification Card (NID) project undertaken by the National Statistical Office, the government allocated almost AUD 104 million. The EC was also given millions of dollars to update the rolls. This was a duplication of resources but both agencies failed. It is also understood that technical expertise was provided by Australia and New Zealand. With those resources and the availability of technology to do data-matching, this was a terrible failure.

To cover for the failure, the EC is reverting to an older version of the rolls. Arguably, the law does not restrict that. But it would be another issue if the EC is using the 2012 rolls.

In 1997, the principal common roll was not properly updated, hence the then Electoral Commissioner issued Circular Instruction No 26/97 on the eve of polling to revert to the Preliminary Listings of the years prior. 20 years on and the same problem is recurring unabated.

Dreams are shattered, resources are wasted and decisions are on halt –all because someone has failed to do his job. People’s right to vote and stand for public office is robbed by a supposedly independent government institution’s incompetence. Whatever the outcome of the election is, it will come at a high price for the country. PNG will definitely come out of this election and things will surely get back to normal as they always have been. But I wonder how much longer PNG will continue to tolerate and pay for the same mistakes over and over.


The big rort – 300,000 ghost voters & mathematical impossibilities

17 July 2017

STATISTICAL indicators suggest that Papua New Guinea’s O’Neill government used its power of incumbency to ‘cook the books’ in its favour in the current election. Comparing the 2017 electoral roll with electorate population estimates based on the 2011 census, the Electoral Commission has created nearly 300,000 ‘ghost voters’ in People’s National Congress-controlled electorates. This is 5,682 ghost voters for every PNC sitting member – more than 10 times the number of ghost voters for non-PNC sitting members. PNC members are also being declared elected based on mathematical impossibilities.

[For the rest of this article see the url above]


Australia was partly responsible for rigged election: Sir Mek

Post Courier, 10 July 2017

The members of the committee, ombudsman Richard Pagen, Richard Kassman and Professor John Luluaki are all extremely capable men of high integrity. They will not have taken the decision to resign lightly. They have resigned because they have been ignored by the electoral commissioner and prevented from fulfilling their obligations and their role, which they take seriously. All honest and concerned Papua New Guineans value their decision, but lament the causes of it.  It is a very sad day for Papua New Guinea, and sends shivers of fright about the future of democracy in our country. The utter chaos of this election is deliberately organised. It is rigged. What rigging and deliberate chaos do we see?

Failure to provide the election advisory committee with any of the information it requested

Failure to complete an electoral roll that in any way shape or form reflects the eligible voting population

Failure to include names of people who had registered, with particular disenfranchisement of particular groups of people, such as students and educated working people

Failure to provide copies of the electoral roll to the public

Failure to provide sufficient ballot papers in areas where there were eligible voters listed on the Roll

Provision of extra ballot papers to People’s National Congress or pro-PNC candidates

Voting numbers in PNC-held seats that far exceed the number of eligible voters

Tens of thousands of ghost names on the roll

Illegal voting on Sunday and after 6pm

Deferral of voting in many areas, causing confusion and reduced voter turn-out, especially from the working population

Deferral and slow process of counting in selected areas

The list goes on.  People have been deliberately disenfranchised.  There is a growing surge of anger and disbelief.

The behavior of electoral commissioner Patilias Gamato is deplorable. By law he does not have to listen to anyone, apart from the advice of the election advisory committee.  But he has chosen to be an outrigger of PNC. He has chosen to be a political football, kicked around for political scoring by Peter O’Neill and his henchman, Isaac Lupari. They will do anything to hold on to power, including destroying the nation.  They will do anything to prevent further exposure of their wrongdoings. The resignation of the committee is a sign of the very dangerous waters that Papua New Guinea is heading towards. Papua New Guineans must not just let these issues go.  Peoples’ rights to take part in any meaningful democratic process have been destroyed. Australia has nurtured the O’Neill regime and the election process.  It must take some responsibility for the chaos.


How Simbus intervened to try to secure an honest election

16 July 2017

THE hijacking of ballot papers and a manipulated common roll have becomes a nationwide scandal among Papua New Guinea’s voters. The arrival of polling materials in Simbu Province a week prior to the scheduled date was secretive. But speculation of hijacking and manipulating polling and counting spread among the people anyway. The Simbu people have long been suspicious of the desperation of power hungry political parties. A strong team of anti-O’ Neill and anti-PNC people fronted up at the provincial electoral office on a Monday and demanded that the election manager unlock the boxes containing the ballot papers prior the polling which commenced the following Monday 27 June.

The election manager complied and told his team to come the next day to unlock the boxes.

They duly turned up at the office and he told them to come the following day, giving as his reason a directive from the provincial police commander to sabotage the people’s request.

So opening the boxes for confirmation was deliberately deferred for four days. On a Friday afternoon, the election manager reluctantly opened the boxes with almost 700 people looking on. As the first boxes were opened, spokesman Gorua William demanded, “Let’s use Sinesine-Yongomugl electorate’s ballot papers as a sample to verify the recent common roll.

“The Ward 1 Yongomugl local level government should have papers for a population of 2,408 eligible voters.” The counting of the actual papers commenced and totalled only 880 ballot papers – a shortfall of 1,528.

“Where are the remaining papers?” Gorua William asked.

“Try to confirm the missing papers by undoing the seal for Suai LLG Ward 4, where the People’s National Congress candidate comes from.” Under the watchful eyes of the crowd, the electoral officials broke the seal, opened the box and counted the papers. There were supposed to be just 475, but there were in fact 2,003 ballot papers – the difference being the 1,528 papers missing from Ward 1 of Yongomugl LLG. “Why have 2,003 papers been given to this ward rather than the 475 papers for eligible voters?” asked Gorua William adamantly.

The response from the officials was poor. They shifted the blame to the electoral commission which they said had undermined the updated 2017 common roll.

“Redistribute the ballot papers according to the 2012 common roll since the 2017 update is a mess,” he said. The petition was faxed to the electoral commission and forwarded to the governor-general and finally it was gazetted for Simbu Province to implement according to the petition. The provincial election manager directed the officials to redistribute the ballot papers for the six districts according to the 2012 common roll. Then the boxes was sealed with the provincial stamp and signed by provincial administrator Joe Kunda as proof that any foul play had been avoided. Furthermore, the extra ballot papers were burned in front of the crowd’s eyes. This caused a two day polling delay in the province, voting finally starting on Wednesday 29 June.

Is this democracy or communism? Is this political tyranny? It is certainly manipulation of process and system. In Simbu, citizens are asking such questions with so far no answer from the government.


Increasing Child Abuse Concerns

Post Courier, July 7, 2017

PaternaL child abuse and juvenile perpetrators are among the causes of increasing child sexual violence (CSV) in Port Moresby says a social worker at Family Support Centre (FSC).

Clinical manager Tessie Soi revealed worrying statistics received of children as young as five months old being sexually abused mostly by relatives. In the 2016 data 248 cases of child abuse were reported under the CSV category from age 0 to 17 years. 1152 cases were consulted of which 287 were females and 47 males under 17 whilst 800 females and 18 males were seen who were over the age of 18 years.

Ms Soi said juvenile perpetrators, paternal abusers, families becoming nuclear, promiscuity and parents having sex in front of their children are contributing factors of CSV. “Juveniles are becoming perpetrators taking advantage of three to five year olds whom they are trusted to babysit,” she said. “They are young as 12 to 15 year olds who are getting exposed to pornography through mobile phones mostly within their peer groups.”

“Paternal child abusers (father sexually abusing daughter) is increasing for instance in one case a mother trusted her husband to take care of their six month old daughter and returned to find the childcrying uncontrollably only to uncover her child been abused by the father when she removed the child’s diaper.” “As a social worker I disagree with compensation as the victim will grow up with the trauma while the parents and relatives enjoy the money.

“I am concerned with parents bluntly having sex in front of their small children some of these parents are university graduates who get drunk and force their wives to do that.

“All this worries me where is our society heading to?

New Buses For Meri Seif

Post Courier July 6

Women And Girls Freedom Of Movement Around The City Has Been Given Another Boost By The National Capital District Commission (NCDC) Transport Department After A Donation Of Two 50 Seater Buses To The Ginigoada Foundation. As part of the Safe Public Transport Programme, Ginigoada (UN Women NGO partner) has worked in collaboration with United Nation (UN) Women to provide safe transportation options for women and girls in Port Moresby. Ginigoada Foundation assistant training manager Rodney Graham thanked NCD governor Powes Parkop for his ongoing support and for the donation of the buses when receiving the keys yesterday. “Since 2015, Ginigoada has operated four women-only buses providing safe transit to approximately 650 women and girls daily.


Funding crisis affects hospital services

July 12, 2017 The National

THE Kundiawa General Hospital in Chimbu scaled down its services on Monday because its operational grants for the  last three months were not received, hospital chief executive Dr Harry Poka says. Poka told The National yesterday that the hospital board held an emergency meeting on Monday because of the severity of the situation that is affecting the hospital operations. “Given the circumstances that we did not receive any operational funds from the Government for almost three months, the operation of the hospital is being severely affected,” he said. “We have been using funds from the hospital trust account to purchase emergency pharmaceutical supplies from private distributors and that has been a tough time for us.
“So as part of the control mechanisms, the board has had an emergency meeting on Monday and made a resolution to put on hold all operational expenses pending availability of funds.”
He said apart from the non-release of monthly operational grants, there was also a shortage of water due to the dry weather. Poka said except for patients and guardians, the public was restricted from entering the hospital premises unnecessarily. “Additional control measures will include limiting new patient admissions and discharging and referring patients back to their respective health centres to complete treatment.”


Prison shooting ‘legal’: Report

July 13, 2017 The National
THE four wardens who shot dead 17 inmates who escaped from Buimo prison in May were only doing their job, according to an internal investigation by the Correctional Services.
The investigation found that the wardens’ actions were in line with Correctional Services regulations, acting Commissioner Stephen Pokanis said. “The four officers at the compound made two attempts to lock the main compound gate after the lock was broken by the detainees, but were not successful as they were being stoned by the remand and maximum convicted detainees,”  Pokanis said.
‘“One of the officers ran and raised the alarm by ringing the bell.
“The sergeant in charge made the third attempt and finally secured the main compound gate by locking it with the spare lock, but by then, the detainees had already ran out from the cells and through the dog track, over the fence and out in the open area facing the single barracks and the officers’ residential area.”
Stephen said the wardens fired warning shots but the detainees kept running. “Shots were fired to prevent further escapes and several detainees who were about to jump the fence, ran back to the main compound,” Pokanis said. “The officers recaptured three detainees alive while 17 lost their lives in their attempt to escape, whilst 38 are still on the run.” The Buimo jailbreak occurred on May 12, when 58 detainees escaped from the main compound.


PNG ‘not ready’ for climate change

July 14, 2017 The National

The National Research Institute (NRI) says that PNG is not well equipped to manage adverse impacts of climate change even with lessons learnt from past incidents. Senior research fellow and programme leader Prof Eugene Ezebilo told a group of participants in a research presentation in Port Moresby yesterday that government agencies responsible for managing natural disasters were not prepared well enough to adapt to climate change. “As Papua New Guinea already witnessed drought and frost incidences in 1997 and 2015, it is expected that the country would have developed a sustainable adaptation and management strategy to cope with the drought and frost issues,” he said. “The latest (2015) drought and frost incidences revealed that government agencies responsible for managing natural disasters in PNG were also not well equipped and prepared to tackle the problems faced.” Ezebilo said more than two million people at the time were reportedly hard hit and as a result it led to food and water shortages in several provinces. “Papua New Guinea has been a witness to many droughts and frost but despite this reality, the agriculture sector in the country has not been able to develop a climate adaptation strategy.” “In order to improve effectiveness in disaster management, it is necessary to improve funding of provincial disaster offices, train more citizens on planning and management of disasters and improve long-term monitoring and forecasts of climate change events,” Ezebilo said.


Court orders that expelled missionary can return to PNG 10 July 2017

Radio New Zealand International

PAPUA New Guinea’s national court has ordered the country’s Immigration and Citizenship Service Authority to facilitate the return to the country of New Zealander Douglas Tennent.

The religious lay worker was deported last month for allegedly breaching the terms of his religious worker visa. As a qualified lawyer working for the Archbishop of Rabaul, Mr Tennent had been advising landowners at West Pomio who were involved in a contractual wrangle with logging and palm oil multinational company Rimbunan Hijau. Mr Tennent was bundled on to a plane and flown to New Zealand despite a stay order on his deportation being presented to Immigration personnel. The court has ordered Immigration to allow for Mr Tennent’s return entry to PNG within two weeks from Friday.

Basic health care in PNG overlooked: Barter

Post Courier, July 11, 2017

Former health minister Sir Peter Barter says it is hard to come to terms that the real need at hand for specialised health treatment in the country is being overlooked. “When you consider money being used to built super freeways, hotels, fund events mainly in Port Moresby it is hard to come to terms when there is an urgent need for specialised treatment in PNG, particularly outside Port Moresby,” he said. Sir Peter remarked when expressing his deepest remorse to hear of the death of pioneer radiation oncologist, Dr John Niblett last Tuesday.

“This does not just cover cancer, the shortage of dialysis machines is another concern along with the trained specialists and consumables needed to provide treatment in PNG. Sir Peter said the community in Lae and the hospital board are raising money themselves to accommodate cancer patients and in turn he (Sir Peter) supported Dr Niblett who regardless of his own disability was very well respected as evident by the number of people who have spoken since his passing early last week.

Cardinal Ribat presents acquittal report to NGCB

Post Courier, July 20, 2017

Churches in PNG engaged in Health, HIV and education projects and programs are encouraged to continue to be accountable and transparent before God when dealing with public funds and ensure the promotion of good governance “as we continue to provide vital basic services to our people in PNG.” Chairman of PNG Christian Leaders Alliance on HIV and AIDS, Cardinal Sir John Ribat, said this when he presented the acquittal of K300,000 to the National Gaming Control Board community benefit fund this week. Cardinal Ribat said NGCB was the major sponsor who helped fund the first HIV Summit for Heads of Churches in PNG, which was staged on March 15 and 16. “NGCB supported the first HIV Summit for Heads of Churches with K300,000, and as our commitment we are honouring it by documenting our acquittals report and presenting it back to our sponsor,” he said.

“PNG Christian Leaders Alliance on HIV and AIDS and the heads of churches, who are members of this alliance, want to be accountable and transparent as much as possible.

After receiving the K300,000 acquittals from Cardinal Ribat on behalf the chief executive officer of NGCB Imelda Agon, acting director community benefit fund Ms Rayleen Kurua, praised Cardinal Ribat for his leadership and for the heads of churches for their collective effort in achieving success in the first HIV summit. “Many organisations who receive funding from NGCB fail to acquit funds, and we hardly see organisations coming in like this to present their acquittals report,” she said.

HIV increase by 4 percent: UN report

Post Courier, July 21, 2017

A new United Nations AIDS (UNAIDS) report on the global HIV epidemic has found new HIV infections in Papua New Guinea have increased by 4 percent between 2014 and 2016.

And at the same time, the country has experienced a significant improvement in its HIV treatment coverage with 52 percent of all people living with HIV accessing life-saving antiretroviral medicine. But UNAIDS has urged PNG to renew its commitments and investments in the country’s HIV response and to address the difficult legal and policy issues which continue to impede the country’s prevention, treatment and care programs.

There is a need to review the architecture of the country’s response within the changing financial landscape and the evolving understanding of the country’s epidemic.

According to a statement released by the UNAIDS, (Ending AIDS: Progress towards the 90-90-90 targets) finds a slight upward trend with an estimated 2800 new HIV infections occurring in Papua New Guinea last year. “This uptick follows several years where new infections have stubbornly remained stable, recording no decline,” UNAIDS PNG director David Bridger said. “Clearly prevention efforts have stalled and Papua New Guinea needs to return to the leadership it has shown with such success in the past and re-invigorate its HIV response.


Prevalence of blindness rates 5.6 pc

July 21, 2017 The National

A recent survey revealed that Papua New Guinea has an estimated national prevalence rate of 5.6 per cent of blindness, says PNG Eye Care deputy chief ophthalmologist Dr Jambi Garap.
Garap said the first national rapid assessment of avoidable blindness (RABB) percentage translated into 40,000-plus adults of 50 years and over being blind in both eyes and 70,000 in one eye. “The commonest cause of blindness is cataract and the need to wear glasses.  So that means in PNG cataract surgery can be done, but if you look at the 40,000 against the 14 or less doctors there is a big task,” she said. “They need a team of doctors to work with and they need things that they need to work with, consumables which are expensive.  It will be about doing one cataract surgery for about K100, if we got everything together for one person.”
She said other challenges apart from up skilling doctors to carry out cataract surgery include infrastructure, upgrading the theatre with microscopes and instruments and a fulltime eye team. “For the people out there in PNG they just need to make sure that they bring their parents for an eye test. If you are living in a town or city where there is an eye doctor you need to bring your parents or the elderly to have an eye check.

Refugees forced to move as Demolition Begins

Post Courier, July 26, 2017

Refugees on Manus Island say they are stressed and worried now the Australian and Papua New Guinea governments have begun demolishing accommodation in the detention centre.
“Charlie” compound, which housed 10 men, has been taken down. The 700 refugees in the detention centre have been told to move into a new “transit” centre closer to the main town, but they fear they will not be safe there.
“It is a stressful situation, we are very worried about accommodation.”
Mr Udin said the camp’s management were also reducing services. “People are not allowed to take water, they are decreasing the water supply and they are making hard rules day by day,” he said. The Australian and PNG Governments had told the refugees another compound, Foxtrot, would be closed by the end of June, and it is expected to close soon. Immigration officials also warned refugees that if they continue to refuse to move, it could affect their applications to resettle in the United States. While a number of men have been interviewed for US resettlement, the US State Department said no decisions had been made about who would be resettled. The United States also reached its new refugee intake cap and could deny entry to new refugees until the cap resets in October.

A View from a Vetern in The Australian (Rowan Callick)

16th July

MANY Australians, perhaps most, merely have been shrugging at news of the shoddy administration of Papua New Guinea’s five-yearly election. Large numbers of voters were left off the new rolls and counting is still at an early stage, although it’s a week today since polling stopped. Three members of an independent electoral watchdog resigned, feeling they had been prevented from carrying out their task.

But why do Australians usually think the worst of our closest neighbours? Amazingly, few have even been there. OK, the fares aren’t cheap and the hotel prices are mostly exorbitant. But I would have imagined a sense of curiosity, at least, might have driven more just to take a look.

I arrived to work there a few months after PNG’s rushed push for independence in 1975. The mood was infectiously optimistic, the level of commitment to the new country of 812 languages, intense. Before self-government in 1973, the Australian government had invested little in PNG — of which Papua, the southern half, had been a colony since 1906, with New Guinea, the northern part, being mandated to Australia first by the League of Nations after World War I, then by the UN after World War II.

There were very few permanent roads, and none connecting the two regions of Papua and New Guinea — a plight that, astonishingly, hasn’t changed in the 42 years since then.

Most schooling and health work in rural PNG, where the great majority continue to live, was run by the mainstream churches, not by the government. Employment opportunities were scant. The limited housing in towns was supplied by workplaces, which remains common, with many of the rapidly increasing town dwellers living in scrounged or nailed-together shanties.

The adrenalin kicked in by independence and freedom pumped impressively for the first couple of years, during which the program to prepare locals for key jobs seemed to be working well. The streets of the towns were safe, though public transport pretty well disappeared after dark. Schools were neat and tidy, public libraries were available in key centres, the ABC-equivalent broadcast a broad range of quality programs. The bureaucracy largely responded in a timely way to the public — although following a victory by the public servants’ union, the government stopped work, and still does, at 4.06pm daily.

I recall the shocked conversations when the Ombudsman Commission announced its first case under the Leadership Code, leading to the dismissal as culture minister of Moses Sasakila over a wantok receiving a free airfare. Surely not in PNG, many said. It is a devoutly Christian country — certainly more so than Australia, for instance. No public occasion is complete without lengthy prayers and preferably hymns, too. But PNG is also, it would seem, a nation of many sinners.

Why is it languishing as 154th, alongside Zimbabwe, of 188 countries in the UN’s latest Human Development Index? Its living standards have improved substantially, according to the HDI, during the past 25 years. But others have improved more. Life expectancy, at 62.8 years, is almost 20 years below that of Australians, and PNG provides education, on average, for only half as long.The country faces many physical as well as social challenges. But the chief hurdle at which it appears to fall is a moral one — that of corruption. The country is 136th of 176 countries on Transparency International’s index.

This derives from a vicious circle. Living in a society that has failed to develop at the pace or to the level that they long have had a right to expect — or that even has fallen backwards — many will take a chance to pull their extended family, their wantoks, up the ladder to a better life. Indeed, they will view it as their highest moral imperative — well, a level below the Ten Commandments or the gospel, but those are viewed by many as essentially aspirational — to seize an opportunity, whether it might be labelled corrupt or not, for a windfall to help the family. Once this idea got a grip, and with diligent competence remaining only modestly or poorly rewarded, then it became more difficult to turn down payments for services.

The examples at the top were and remain crucial.

Culturally in PNG — and Australia isn’t much better — leaders tend to love deals and ribbon-cutting, and shun involvement in the nitty-gritty of competently delivering services and maintaining infrastructure. The choices involved in deal-making lend themselves to personal opportunity. Although PNG is a country of eight million, its elite circle is small, and word soon gets around about the beneficiaries of deals. A friend, for instance, told me how his uncle was a driver for a minister who used to send him weekly to pick up a briefcase containing cash from a casino run by logging interests. Lesser fish find it easier to justify to themselves feeding off corrupt earnings when the big fish often seem to do so with scant constraint.

Peter O’Neill, the Prime Minister for the past six years — whose mother was from the Southern Highlands, his father a PNG magistrate originally from Williamstown in Melbourne — has vowed to introduce an independent commission against corruption. But systemic barriers, opposition from MPs and his own apparent reluctance to invest sufficient political capital have combined to prevent its establishment so far. The need is encapsulated in a meticulously detailed 812-page report into one particular nest of alleged corruption by a parliamentary-appointed commission of inquiry headed by PNG and New Zealand judges and a famously upright veteran PNG business leader. This alleged that a cabal of top public servants and lawyers, including the then finance secretary and solicitor-general, had stolen more than $300 million from their own government via sham compensation claims.

In all but five of the 783 cases it investigated, the government — whose officials were in on the scam — paid out on default judgments or out-of-court settlements so the concocted claims were never tested in court. Criminal prosecution of 57 named figures including 14 prominent lawyers was recommended. Since the report was delivered in 2010 to Michael Somare, the prime minister at the time, it has languished. None of the alleged culprits has been charged and many even have been promoted. I was sent a rare copy of the report, which for years was injuncted by some of those named in it, with my own injunction written on the cover: “Do us justice, Rowan.” Sadly, despite this newspaper’s best efforts on that front, I’ve let down the sender.

No wonder that corruption cascades down from such levels, so that many coveted official documents become available on the market — from driving licences to passports. More general crime also takes its cue from this perception of “anything goes” among many of those in authority.

In most other respects, this is a country and a people who should be going places. It is achingly beautiful. Its highlands — reaching to 4500m — have a perfect climate to grow almost anything, it has hundreds of exquisite islands, it remains highly prospective for gas, oil and metals, it retains in lively form its traditional cultures. But these are viewed by many as barriers and burdens rather than opportunities to establish, for instance, a great tourism centre.

Crucially, PNG needs the kind of jobs that booming tourism can create. The population is growing dangerously fast. Bored youngsters inevitably become troublemakers. No one is “unemployable”, although of course education is vital. People are quick on the uptake.

Irish firm Digicel drove the introduction of mobiles, which became swiftly and widely available thanks to commercial savvy, not that of the many state-owned enterprises constantly hovering on the verge of privatisation. Mainly due to government control of utilities, just 15 per cent of PNG has electricity.

My experience running a publishing firm there taught me that PNG’s women perform especially capably as managers, given the chance. But cultural barriers continue to hold them back in public life. Many women celebrated, rather sadly in hindsight, getting even three elected to the outgoing parliament — alongside 108 men.

The country has enough strong institutions to see it through rough patches.

People believe in democracy, as affirmed by the high proportion turning up to vote at this election even though incompetence or worse prevented many from actually voting.

The courts remain largely independent. Media outlets are lively and capable of speaking truth to power. The churches retain the loyalty of the majority. There are capable and focused non-government organisations.

But PNG also needs its best in the political arena that continues to mesmerise many there.

At present, a bitterness overshadows this world, between the two most prominent leaders to have emerged, aside from Somare — O’Neill, likely to retain office for a further five years relatively comfortably, looking at the results in so far, and economist and former prime minister Mekere Morauta.

The battles ahead — for starters, to manage better the economy and the public service, to host next year’s Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation summit, to hold the 2019 referendum on Bougainville independence — require PNG’s talents working together unselfishly.

The political game of thrones of the past hasn’t worked too well, as we have seen.

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Social Concerns Notes – June 2017

Electoral corruption in PNG: caught between the law and a hard place by Sam Koim, Grant Walton June 19, 2017
Papua New Guinea (PNG) is about to go to the polls. From 24 June 2017, voters will line up to choose MPs for 89 ‘Open’ and 22 Provincial electorates. If past elections are anything to go by, containing corruption will be a significant challenge. In the 2012 election there were widespread reports of bribery and fraud involving candidates, citizens and electoral officials. Electoral observers also found that bribery, fraud and ‘money politics’ were spreading from the highlands to the coastal regions.

There has been some progress around electoral corruption since the last national election. In October 2013, PNG’s Supreme Court found that all forms of exchange of goods and money by candidates during the election period amounts to illegal bribery. The ruling suggested such activities should occur prior to the election period. This stricter approach is beneficial, as it is designed to discourage candidates from participating in expensive customary obligations, and to mitigate voters being influenced by money politics.A potentially more potent law is Section 215 of the PNG Organic Law on National and Local Government Elections (OLNLGE). It vests in the National Court of PNG the authority to declare an election void if it finds that the candidate had committed or had attempted to commit bribery or undue influence to get elected. Such a finding by the court does not bar or prejudice a prosecution for bribery under the CCA.

Despite these legal instruments there is little to suggest corruption will be significantly contained in 2017. For a start the Electoral Commission is suffering from a lack of funds, as are the police. The ratio of citizens-to-police has significantly worsened– it is nearly four times worse now than during PNG’s independence in 1975. Sitting MPs have distributed their growing constituency funds over the past five years, which have been used to strengthen patronage among past and potential supporters. In many places, this is likely to increase expectations of largesse distributed during the election campaign. More importantly, there are few indications of significant shifts in the complex socio-cultural factors that drive corruption during elections. Research has found that citizens, particularly women, feel obliged to vote for local ‘big men’. Citizens also justify selling their vote due to material concerns, such as poverty and lack of state services.

Recently people have been getting around the Supreme Court’s ruling banning ‘money politics’ during campaigns by extending mourning periods (haus krai) for deaths, and scheduling compensation payments, bride prices, feasts and other festivities through the election period. Despite the ban, one of us (Sam) has observed political events that have continued through the official electoral campaign period. Given these factors it is unlikely that, in and of itself, a change of law will significantly reshape electoral practices – even though this is a step in the right direction.

Due to the inability of the PNG state to enforce its laws, many are rightly worried that this year’s election will see a rise in vote-buying, electoral engineering and other forms of corruption. For the doomsayers it’s worth remembering that PNG is one of the few developing countries that have not succumbed to military rule since independence. Democracy has been severely challenged but the country has not descended into dictatorship…

‘Corruption beyond remedy?’ Archbishop attacks deportation
AN expatriate lay missionary has had his entry permit revoked and was due to be deported from Papua New Guinea yesterday because of what the government alleges is a “blatant abuse” of his visa “by engaging in sensitive landowner issues in East New Britain Province”. Archbishop Panfilo said Douglas Tennent, a lay missionary from New Zealand and a former lecturer of law at UPNG, came to the East New Britain as a lay missionary with an entry permit as a ‘special exemption/religious worker’.“In the Archdiocese he serves as the Administrator,” Archbishop Panfilo wrote in a pastoral letter copied to prime minister Peter O’Neill. “The Archdiocese provides him with board and lodging and with an allowance. He is not paid an expatriate salary. “Those who live at Vunapope know very well that he works 15 hours a day, seven days a week, trying to solve the many land issues that we still have.”

One of Mr Tennent’s many tasks – and the one that seems to have raised the ire of the PNG government – was to help achieve a broad consensus around landowner issues at the Sigite Mukus palm oil project in West Pomio. In his role as Administrator, Archbishop Panfilo said Mr Tennent was “tasked to carry out the decisions of the finance council and of the land board of the Archdiocese. He does not act on his own.” The Archbishop said the people of West Pomio had asked him “to speak up for them” and he had asked Mr Tennent to provide legal advice. He said he was “very grateful to Mr Tennent for his advice and concrete help.” Archbishop Panfilo said on Friday afternoon two officers from the Immigration and Citizenship Service Authority came from Port Moresby to serve Mr Tennent with a ‘Notice of Cancellation of Entry Permit’ and a ‘Direction as to Custody and Removal Order’. Mr Tenent was told that he had to leave PNG by yesterday (Sunday) or he would be “subject to be detained and removed involuntarily”. There was no provision for appeal.

“What crime did Mr Tennent commit?” Archbishop Panfilo asked, adding that, in regard to land matters and in advocacy for the people of West Pomio, the person ultimately responsible is the Archbishop. “Consequently, if anybody needs to be deported for what we are doing, then it is the Archbishop,” Archbishop Panfilo said. “Does this mean that the level of corruption reached by the government is beyond remedy? The Archbishop concluded his letter by asking people to “pray that the upcoming national elections may give us leaders who are committed to the achievement of a just and peaceful society.”

PNG owes much to its missionaries (Mr Pato please take note) (by Daniel Kumbon) 17 June 2017
FOREIGN Affairs Minister Rimbink Pato should be ashamed of himself if he gave the approval for lay missionary Douglas Tennent to be deported from Papua New Guinea. Missionaries appear to be his targets for deportation. There have been a number of other cases. The minister should know that Catholic and Lutheran missionaries were the first to bring essential services like health and education to his own Enga Province in the late 1940s. Foreign Minister Rimbink himself attended St Paul’s Lutheran High, the first to be established near his village in Wapenamanda by missionaries. The very first two Lutheran missionaries to set foot in Enga were Reverend Dr Otto Carl Hintze Jr and Rev Willard Burce who settled at Yaramanda near Rimbinks village. Dr Hintze, who died recently aged 93, had to beg Rimbink Pato from his wheelchair to reverse a decision he made to deport missionaries working in Enga Province. For those interested to read more about this saga, the book is available free online. It is also sold at the University of Papua New Guinea Bookshop in Port Moresby.

‘The hospital is out of everything’: PNG crippled by drug shortage | Radio New Zealand International. 20 June 2017
ON Tuesday night, an elderly woman went to Mt Hagen Hospital after she was slashed in the forehead, but doctors had no supplies or antibiotics to stitch and treat her wound. On the same night, doctors driven to desperation having run out of gauze resorted to using patients’ clothes to soak up blood and cover wounds. The dire situation at Papua New Guinea’s third-largest hospital is a scene playing out in hospitals around the country, where health centres have been crippled by a months-long drug shortage that doctors say has been in the making for years.

“The hospital is actually out of everything,” said David Vorst, deputy chief executive of Mt Hagen Hospital. “We’ve got doctors and nurses working very difficult circumstances delivering babies, for example, without any gloves to protect them.”
As the supplies that were left dwindled, the hospital was driven to seek unused supplies from remote clinics, aid posts and charities. As they ran out, funds were cobbled together to make up for the money the department wasn’t paying. But that could only last so long and last weekend, the shelves were bare. There were no antibiotics, bandages, IV lines, anything, said Mr Vorst.

On Wednesday, a meeting was held on the hospital’s forecourt, where an angry public was told the hospital had nothing available to treat patients at a time when the emergency department was faced with a surge in injuries from election-related violence. But the situation in Mt Hagen is not unique. The secretary of the PNG National Doctors Association, Sam Yockopua, said many hospitals around the country were struggling to stay afloat.

“About eight hospitals have actually shut down their doors or partly shut down for emergencies only,” he said. “At the trend at which we are going, by the end of this month 90 percent of the hospitals will shut down.”

The crisis in the country’s hospitals and health centres had been building for months, if not years, the doctors and administrators said. In PNG, drugs and supplies are procured centrally by the Department of Health, but many of the country’s hospitals have received nothing close to what is needed. Mr Vorst said Mt Hagen Hospital only received about 30% of the supplies it asked for each year, and of that, only about 10% of the quantity requested.

“Two months ago at a board meeting, the national Department of Health rep said ‘look, we’ve got K500,000 earmarked for you guys, just send us a list’,” said Mr Vorst. “We did – very, very quickly – and in return we got a box of abdominal swabs. That was it,” he said.
“Unfortunately the patients are the victims of this, rather than the beneficiaries,” said Mr Vorst.

The plight of Little People

WARIME GUTI | Translated by Keith Jackson
See original at 21 June 2017
TODAY I went to the pharmacy to buy a GlucoMeter. The man ahead of me in the queue looked very ill and he had a note from the hospital nurse prescribing the medicine he must purchase. He gave the note to the cashier who looked at it and said the total cost would be K31 for Mala-Wan and Primaquine. The man reached into his pocket and pulled out K20, only enough to buy the Mala-Wan but he was short of the full amount of money.
I was greatly saddened by this. I looked right at the cashier and thought he must see plenty of sick people who have little money. The cashier was sorry for these people, but what could he do? It wasn’t his shop or a public hospital. The pharmacy was a business. I nodded my head and the cashier knew what I was thinking and gave the man the medicine which I was going to purchase for him. At the time I nodded my head I felt sorry for the cashier because he was finding it difficult to tell people who are short of money that they did not have enough to buy the medicine they need.
Papua New Guinea’s free health policy…. Whatever happened to it?

How long can the sick wait? June 2017
TODAY at the clinic I was glad to have special attention. The doctor was very nice and we talked. I shared about what I witnessed in the clinics and health centres in the last four weeks in Port Moresby, Bereina, Kwikila and Hula.Patients were turned away or prescriptions written for them due to no medicine. I saw sick people in bed, some putting their hand out for ‘quinine’. I am lost for words when I visit one sick in Port Moresby. She is already tired of being sent to the pharmacy. Too weak to sit up she didn’t want to say any more.

The big question for me as I lay in bed trying to get well myself is how many people like my sisters in Baruni and Kamali in Rigo are giving up on life just because our health system continues to fail them – the sick. I think of the doctors and nurses who dig into their pockets so that the sick can have that prescribed medicine from the pharmacy. Bless their hearts. I think of the economic woes of this country and how the sick would choose food over medicine so that their families can have a meal.
How much longer can the sick wait? Think of the doctors and nurses who dig into their pockets so that the sick can have that prescribed medicine from the pharmacy. Bless their hearts. I think of the economic woes of this country and how the sick would choose food over medicine so that their families can have a meal.
How much longer can the sick wait?

Men of honour awards on again

June 5, 2017 The National
THE hunt is on again for Papua New Guinea’s most extraordinary men. Nominations are being sought from individuals and organisations for Digicel Foundation’s Men of Honour awards which reward ordinary men doing extraordinary things to contribute to reducing violence in their societies. Men of Honour patron, former MP Dame Carol Kidu, said the awards acknowledged the efforts of ordinary Papua New Guinea men who were recognised by their communities for making positive contributions that challenged the perception that all PNG men were violent.

“For too long the view has been that PNG is a violent country and seen as a dangerous place to live in because of the perception that all PNG men are dangerous, violent and repress their womenfolk. “But we all know that not all PNG men are violent because through our Men of Honour campaign we have met some amazing men with incredible stories who are making huge impacts in the communities they are operating in,” Dame Carol said. There are seven categories for the Men of Honour awards and the nomination forms are available at the Digicel Foundation office and Digicel retail shops nationwide. Nominations close on Oct 31.

Bougainville president lays down law for his public officials June 2017
BOUGAINVILLE president Dr John Momis says his government is encouraging a culture of accountability from ministers and parliamentarians down through the public service. “We must develop a culture that promotes excellence, rewards success and penalises those who do the wrong thing,” Dr Momis said. “I can no longer tolerate stories of corruption and fraud and I intend to take action to convene an inquiry to investigate the many allegations that have been raised.” The president also made it clear that people found to have done wrong, no matter how senior, will suffer the full weight of the law. “Enough is enough – things have to change,” he said. “If they do not, then we are destined for failure.”

PNG – Change Needed to Meet People’s Potential
Friday, June 09, 2017
PNG politicians are failing their people. Their poor policies have led to dramatic declines in economic well-being – an extraordinary fall of over one-third since 1980. This is revealed by applying new numbers from the PNG National Statistics Office (NSO) and International Monetary Fund to PNG’s economic history. From 2012 to 2017, the average economic well-being for the people of PNG has declined by 2.8%. This reverses positive economic gains of 8.4% from 2000 to 2012. PNG is returning to the poor economic performance it experienced during the 1980s and especially the 1990s – lost decades for development. This is a shame. From 1980 to 2017, economic well-being in PNG per citizen declined by an extraordinary 40.4%. This is a development failure.

In contrast, the resource sector has grown strongly. It is now 48.1% larger per capita than in 1980. The resource sector boomed by 62% during the 1990s when the non-resource sector went backwards by 30.8%. From 2012 to 2017, once again the resource sector has boomed by 58.1% while the non-resource sector has gone backwards by 2.8%. PNG has a development model that looks after the resource sector, but not its people.

PNG’s greatest policy mistake since Independence has been too much focus on natural resources (such as LNG or gold) rather than its extraordinary people resources. …
[See the url above for the full version of this long but very interesting article]

Election 2017 – a time for people to lead and leaders to follow? June 2017
SOMETHING interesting happened this month when Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the Paris climate accord. Americans across the USA came out in large numbers and reiterated and reinvigorated their commitment to fighting climate change.A similar thing has been happening in Australia. While prime minister Malcolm Turnbull will not countenance putting a price on carbon, and is only grudgingly supporting renewable energy, the Australian public and private sectors are enthusiastically embracing renewable technologies while abandoning coal fired energy options.

This ‘people’s resistance’ phenomenon may also have currency in Papua New Guinea, particularly in the current election. Many thinking Papua New Guineans are deeply worried that the corrupt and incompetent government of Peter O’Neill will be returned to power and there are clear signs that a capable resistance might be developing. I can’t recall when there has been so much public criticism of a sitting government in Papua New Guinea. Even in the dark days of the Skate government criticism was muted.

In the run up to this election, social media is alive with discontent and, even if the traditional media hasn’t picked up on what’s going on, people in the streets and villages are talking about it. They are in effect reacting against what they perceive as O’Neill’s ‘plan’ for the future – more corruption and more plunder.
Recent estimates reveal that nearly 950,000 Papua New Guineans use social media and that use is growing quickly. Nearly a million people is a fair slug of the voting public. No wonder O’Neill was trying to suppress it.

Day of judgement: PNG and the O’Neill Government

June 9, 2017
Written by Bal Kama

Papua New Guinea enters its 2017 national election at the back of one of the most contentious periods of its democracy. Prime Minister Peter O’Neill’s reign began unexpectedly in August 2011 after the then Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare was ousted by the PNG parliament following his long absence from the country due to illness.

The Supreme Court later reinstated Somare on 12 December 2011 only to be rejected by the O’Neill led parliament a few hours later, commencing a dark period of PNG’s democracy where the country appeared to have ‘two’ prime ministers for nearly seven months – O’Neill operated from the Parliament House and Somare from the Ela Beach Hotel. It was a period marked by a decline in public confidence in the judiciary, a divided police and armed forces and a perplexed public service.

The 2012 national election provided the ultimate showdown for the two warring factions. However, with an assurance to deliver the country from the misfortunes of Somare’s National Alliance government, O’Neill and his coalition partners found favour with the people. The 2011 constitutional impasse appeared to represent a change of the ‘old guard’ in PNG politics and an undesirable initiation for the new crop of leadership with Peter O’Neill hoisted to symbolise this transition.

Prime Minister O’Neill appeared at that time to represent the long awaited hope for the country. His government immediately appealed to the people through its flagship policies for free health and education services, and infrastructural development backed by a strong anti-corruption focus in the form of the Investigative Task Force Sweep (ITFS).

Projected revenues from the billion-dollar liquefied natural gas (LNG) project and other resource developments in the country provided the assurances that his welfare policies would be sustained and effectively delivered. On the anti-corruption front, O’Neill pledged to support the ITFS to systematically ‘weed out corruption’ in PNG.

What has happened since? [See the URL above for the remainder of this article]

Our corrosive culture of corruption – & how to start eliminating it June 2017. By Kessy Sawang. The Papua New Guinea Woman. Extracts
Sir Mekere Morauta, our former prime minister, likened corruption to cancer, presumably the malignant type. Sam Koim, former head of Task Force Sweep, described the rising tide of corruption using the boiling frog tale – descriptive but a parable nonetheless as it is scientifically incorrect. These concerns seem apt when we consider the performance of the last term of parliament and the executive government. The last government swept into power on a wave of optimism and promises that it would tackle the problem of corruption and restore good governance.

The Alotau Accord captured the commitments made by O’Neill’s government to the people of PNG of the initiatives it would undertake. There were pledges to “continuing the fight against corruption by proper funding and institutionalisation of the inter-agency committee against corruption in particularly Task Force Sweep. Further, the government will introduce the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) Bill” O’Neill failed to bring the bill to parliament.

Corruption is the abuse of public office for private gain. Corruption should not only be thought of wilful abuse but also if one is aware of it and does nothing to bring it to the attention of appropriate authorities then there is a crime of complicity. For instance, the Bank of PNG an independent institution by law has breached its mandate by expanding the money supply by funding the government budget by K1.8 billion in 2016 alone. Without this funding the government would have stopped functioning if it had failed to adjust the budget. The Bank of PNG shockingly paid a dividend of K102 million in 2014 when it was technically bankrupt, ….
[For the remainder of this article, see the url above]

Single-handedly Alfred Masul got conservation on the move 15 June 2017
A MAN from the Ulingan-Malala area of Madang Province has been praised by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) as a role model in the fight against the effects of climate change and rising sea levels.
Community leader and conservation advocate Alfred Masul was commended for using his own initiative to start conservation activities using local knowledge and without much assistance from others. WWF project officers learnt of Alfred’s activities as they were rolling out a project among Madang’s north coast communities. They noticed that Alfred was already rehabilitating his area which was destroyed by a tidal wave some years before. He had established nurseries and started conservation work. WWF assisted Alfred with equipment to continue his mangrove rehabilitation and adaptation work. WWF also used Alfred’s initiative to conduct training on mangrove rehabilitation and adaptation. It brought in members of communities from Malala and Ulingan for hands on training at Alfred’s project site. Alfred said he started the project in 2005 as a means to conserve natural resources when he understood the effects of climate change and population on natural resources. In 2007, when he realised the rising sea was encroaching on his land, he began mangrove rehabilitation and approached WWF to do a survey. He currently has 2,000 mangrove seedlings and has planted more than 500.

Alfred’s approach to conservation is holistic. He has planted native trees in the forest, planted mangroves and associated species at the mouth of the river and created taboo areas in the bay so fish are not disturbed and can spawn freely. As a result, fish numbers and species have increased. She said they would like to work with individuals who have passion,

Breakouts blamed on delayed cases

June 23, 2017 The National
AMONG the 58 who broke out of the Buimo Prison in Morobe last month were several inmates who had been remanded and awaiting trial for more than nine years. Correctional Service Commissioner Michael Waipo said yesterday that some had been detained on “mere allegations” and have had their cases deferred. Such issues, he said, had led to overcrowding and outbreak of diseases had led to frustration and breakouts. Waipo was revealing findings of an investigation into the May 12 breakout during which 17 inmates were shot dead. He said a large number of them caught the warders off-guard and made a dash. “They dashed for freedom because their complaints that parole and licensed releases were not effective. “Some detainees have been spending more than nine years (behind bars) just waiting for their court cases. “Some remand detainees are held in custody based on mere allegations … with no evidence. Cases have been deferred to 2018 and 2019.”

Letter from Archbishop Panfilo regarding Deportation of Douglas Tennant

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

On August 15, 2015 I issued Pastoral Letter 7 on how to respond in very practical ways to the Encyclical Letter of Pope Francis “Laudato Sì” on the “Care of our Common Home”.

I wrote: “Convinced as we are that ‘the earth is our common home and all of us are brothers and sisters’ (EG 183), we need to ask ourselves: how can we as Church, in very practical ways, care for our common home and be a Church that is poor and for the poor? … The Archdiocese of Rabaul is committed to the following:
1. Disposing of the land, especially of large plantations;
2. Starting a housing project for low income earners;
3. Helping achieve a broad consensus in the Sigite Mukus Palm Oil Project in West Pomio”.

We committed ourselves to these very challenging goals not only in response to the call of Pope Francis and in fidelity to the Social Teaching of the Church, but also because the Archdiocese could avail itself of the services of Mr. Douglas Tennent, a lay missionary from New Zealand and a former lecturer of law at the UPNG.

As mentioned, Mr. Tennent came to the Archdiocese as a lay missionary with an Entry Permit “Special Exemption/Religious Worker”. In the Archdiocese he serves as the Administrator.

The Archdiocese provides him with board and lodging and with an allowance. He is not paid an expatriate salary. Those who live at Vunapope know very well that he works 15 hours a day, seven days a week, trying to solve the many land issues that we still have.

On Friday, 9 June, in the afternoon two officers from the Office of the Immigration and Citizenship Service Authority came from Port Moresby to serve Mr. Tennent with the “Notice of Cancellation of Entry Permit” and “Direction as to Custody and Removal Order”.

He was told that he no longer held a valid entry permit or visa to remain in the country lawfully and that he had to leave the country immediately. The document presented to him stated: “Should you fail to comply with this instruction you are subject to be detained and removed involuntarily”.

There was no previous notice, no chance to appeal since the notice was served on Friday afternoon and he would have to leave on Sunday, 11 June.

What crime did Mr. Tennent commit? The document served to him says: “The cancellation of your entry permit by the Minister is due to the blatant abuse of the conditions of your Special Exemption/Religious Worker visa by engaging in sensitive landowner issues in East New Britain Province”.

As mentioned, Mr. Tennent is a lay missionary and is not paid an expatriate salary.

In regards to our commitments to “Disposing of the land, especially of large plantations” and of “Starting a housing project for low income earners”, Mr. Tennent is tasked to carry out the decisions of the Finance Council and of the Land Board of the Archdiocese. He does not act on his own.

As for the involvement of the Archdiocese in “Helping achieve a broad consensus in the Sigite Mukus Palm Oil Project in West Pomio”, Mr. Tennent provides legal advice to the Archbishop, who was asked by the people of West Pomio to speak up for them. This, the undersigned as done and is very grateful to Mr. Tennent for his advice and concrete help.

It should be very clear that in regard to land matters and in the advocacy for the people of West Pomio, the ultimate responsible is the Archbishop. Consequently, if anybody needs to be deported for what we are doing, then it is the Archbishop.

It is sad to realize that people who are hard working, dedicated and committed to serve the people of Papua New Guinea are treated in such a way.

Does this mean that the level of corruption reached by the Government is beyond remedy?

I would like to believe that there are still decent people in Government who are trying their best, just as we are trying our best to serve and care for those who do not have voice.

Let us pray that the upcoming National Elections may give us leaders who are committed to the achievement of a just and peaceful society.

+ Francesco Panfilo, SDB Archbishop of Rabaul

12 June, 2017

Who is Mr. Douglas Tennent? He is well known in the country especially by many lawyers, having been a lecturer of law at UPNG for many years. He was also a lay missionary in the Archdiocese of Mount Hagen and in the diocese of Gizo in the Solomon Islands. He came to the Archdiocese of Rabaul at the beginning of 2014 as lay missionary. Since then he held the task of Administrator of the Archdiocese.

What is his greatest fault? Yes, he is very passionate about justice, about the Social Teaching of the Church to a fault. He will go out of his way to help the poor and the downtrodden. He has done this for 30 years. According to a prominent citizen of Papua New Guiinea “he should be given the right to a dual citizenship rather than being deported”.

On Friday, 9 June, in the afternoon two officers from the Office of the Immigration and Citizenship Service Authority came from Port Moresby to serve Mr. Tennent with the “Notice of Cancellation of Entry Permit” and “Direction as to Custody and Removal Order”, which were signed by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Immigration.

Mr. Douglas Tennent was picked up from Vunapope at about 10:45 a.m., on Sunday, 11 June, 2017 and brought to Port Moresby. Until 12:00 noon today we could not make contact with him. We finally were able to talk to each when he was already at Jackson airport, waiting to depart for New Zealand.

What is his crime? We don’t know! We don’t know who lodged a complaint against him and what the accusations against him are. The only thing we know is what is written in the Notice of Cancellation of the Entry Permit, signed by the Acting Chief Migration Officer: “The cancellation of your entry permit by the Minister is due to the blatant abuse of the conditions of your Special Exemption/Religious Worker visa by engaging in sensitive landowner issues in East New Britain Province”.

What about his involvement in sensitive landowner issues?
• In regard to land issues, whether large plantations or the land in Kokopo, Mr. Doug Tennent was tasked to carry out the decisions of the Land Board of the Archdiocese. He did not act on his own.
• As for the involvement of the Archdiocese in the Sigite Mukus Palm Oil Project in West Pomio, Mr. Tennent was providing legal advice to the Archbishop, who was asked by the people of West Pomio to speak up for them.

Did Mr. Tennent blatantly abuse the conditions of his Visa as Religious Worker? Absolutely not! As I wrote in my previous letter: “Those who live at Vunapope know very well that he worked 15 hours a day, seven days a week, trying to solve the many land issues that we still have”. He worked exclusively for the Archdiocese of Rabaul, which provided him with board and lodging and a monthly allowance. He did not receive an expatriate salary.

As mentioned, the cancellation of Mr. Doug’s entry permit by the Minister of Foreign Affairs was due to “the blatant abuse” of the conditions of his visa as Religious Worker. With due respect, the blatant abuse of power came from the Minister of Foreign Affairs, as well as from the Acting Chief Migration Officer.

In fact, since the entry permit of Mr. Tennent was for a period exceeding 6 months, the Minister abused his power by insisting on Mr. Tennent’s removal from Papua New Guinea, thereby denying the right to be present while his appeal, under section 6(2) of the Migration Act, was being heard and processed. In support of this view, the National Court at Kokopo, at about 11:00 a.m, Monday 12 June, 2017, issued orders staying the deportation order and prohibiting any airlines to transport Mr. Tennent. The document of the stay order was handed to the immigration officer in the International Airport at Port Moresby prior to the scheduled departure of Mr. Tennent.

Even though the undersigned is not a lawyer, it is very obvious that the purported notice of cancellation and order to leave the country is legally flawed in that the officers of immigration have exceeded their jurisdiction by denying Mr Tennent the right to be present while his appeal is heard or process..

Since the reasons given for the cancellation of Mr. Tennent’s entry permit appear to be vague generalities that do not warrant its cancellation, the Archdiocese of Rabaul has a right to know who lodged the complaints and the accusations against Mr. Tennent.

Any ordinary person knows that orders of this kind cannot be given unless there are powerful and wealthy institutions and personalities behind. For the sake of the ordinary and innocent people of PNG, we ask the Government to come clear once and for all.

In conclusion, I want to inform all seating candidates and aspiring candidates for National Elections that neither the Archdiocese of Rabaul or the Catholic Bishops’ Conference will take this matter lightly as it seems to imply that to work for justice is outside of a “Religious Worker” status.

Today’s Gospel reading tells us: “Blessed are those who are persecuted in the cause of uprightness, the kingdom of Heaven is theirs. Blessed are you when people abuse you and persecute you and speak all kinds of calumny against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven; this is how they persecuted the prophets before you” (Mt 5:10-12).

+ Francesco Panfilo, SDB Archbishop of Rabaul

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