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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Social Concerns Notes – May 2017

Nun assists 87 detainees home

May 1, 2017 The National

A CATHOLIC nun has helped over 130 detained Vietnamese fishermen in a number of prisons in PNG to return home. Sister Ma Theresa Trinh Vu Phuong looked after the needs of those Vietnamese detainees and served as their interpreter and mediator in court.“She has been helping these Vietnamese fishermen to be freed and repatriated to their home country.” They have been detained in the prisons of Alotau, Giligili and Bomana for illegally fishing and harvesting beche-de-mer in Milne Bay. Sr Trinh communicates with their families back home and arranges for payment of their penalties and getting all the necessary documents and tickets for them to fly back home to Vietnam. “Sr Trinh successfully processed the repatriation of 87 Vietnamese fishermen and about 18 more will soon follow and all will soon be able to re-join their families back home, thanks to the courage of this sister and the support given by her Salesian community,” said Fr Ambrose. Sr Trinh is a Vietnamese Salesian Sister working in a girls’ skills training Institute in Sideia Island, diocese of Alotau in Milne Bay. The diocese is proud of her because her charity is truly heroic and worthy of emulation.
Bishop there, Rolando Santos, said the case of the Vietnamese fishermen was disturbing. “They (Vietnamese fishermen )are used by whoever employs them to fish illegally without a proper license or any guarantee of protection or security from their employers. “It is a serious abuse on the rights and dignity of these young men to be sent out by their recruiters to fish in illegal waters without a proper licence and without any guarantee of protection or security.“Once caught, they are almost totally forgotten and abandoned. “The rights of these young men need to be respected, and a better employment worthy of their dignity be afforded to them.”

Papua New Guinea gets a dose of the resource Curse.

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.

Construction for the project began in 2010, and the first gas shipment was made in May 2014.

In February 2009, the economic consulting firm Acil Tasman (now Acil Allen) produced a report for ExxonMobil about the project’s impact. The report said the project has the potential to transform the country’s economy by boosting GDP and money from exports. These would increase government revenue and provide royalty payments to landowners. 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.

In the years since construction began, Papua New Guinea’s ranking on the United Nations Development Program’s Human Development Index has fallen by two places to 158, having been overtaken by Zimbabwe and Cameroon. Far from enhancing development indicators, the largest development project in PNG’s history has coincided with an unprecedented downgrade in the country’s development status.

Very little is known about the actual impact of the project on local landowners. This is largely due to the remote location of the gas field in the mountainous Hela Province. The dire security situation in that part of Papua New Guinea also makes any investigation a highly dangerous undertaking.

(for the rest of this lengthy article see the url above]


Manam evacuees receive aid

May 8, 2017 The National

RED Cross and World Vision are providing assistance to hundreds of people fleeing volcanic eruptions on the island of Manam. By last count, 887 people have left the island as lava continues to flow from the volcano after it erupted last month. “Available information indicated light ash fell in areas stretching between Warisi on the east, Dugulaba on the south and Boda and Baliab on the northwest parts of the island,” the Department of Mineral Policy and Geohazards Management said.
Madang disaster coordinator Rudolph Mongallee said everyone would be transported to the mainland.
“The islanders will be relocated at the Potsdam Care Centre at mainland Bogia,” Mongallee told The National on Friday. Ten families consisting of around 150 people had already been transported to the mainland. He said the Madang government and the National Disaster Centre were providing food to the islanders. “The Red Cross and World Vision are assisting us with canvas (tents), mosquito nets, blankets and cooking utensils,” Mongallee said.
Manam Restoration Authority caretaker Paul Akuram said volcanic lava was still flowing. “Dust has covered the whole island and destroyed gardens and properties so they need to be moved out,” Akuram said. In 2005, about  9000 people were evacuated, eventually to three principal “care centres”, because of volcanic eruptions. At the time, relocation on narrow strips of coastal land created conflicts with local people over the use of such resources as land for gardens, water, materials to build houses and access to marine resources.


Church Reps on Rededication. 

Post Courier 15 May

The Catholic agency of the Mt Hagen Arch Diocese has gathered its representatives from 190 catholic-run schools in Western Highlands Province and Jiwaka at Rabiamul parish to rededicate their duties to God. The representatives were principals, teachers in charge, chairpersons of board of management, members of the catholic education board, and subcommittee members of the catholic education board from Jiwaka and community leaders. His grace, Archbishop Douglas Young SVD gave three reasons for this gathering; dedicate everyone and their roles to God, clear the confusion of the agency and its practice and benefits in schools, and swearing in of new members of the catholic education board. Bishop Young said the aim is to create better sense of unity, commitment, purpose, identity and sense of family for our teachers in catholic schools from colleges to preschools. Young said many people still think that the agency means that the church is the agent for the government to do what the government tells them to do but that is not the case. “We provide education and the state likes the education that we provided so we become partners, many people in the department and teachers in catholic schools don’t understand the nature of partnership,” said Young.
Bougainville’s economic sector ‘failing miserably’, says Momis   15 May

FISCAL self-reliance remains one of the foremost conditions of the Bougainville Peace Agreement as Bougainville prepares for the 2019 referendum on independence, says president John Momis.

Dr Momis called for stakeholders in the government’s economic sector and state owned enterprises to revitalise efforts to secure a viable economic climate in the autonomous province. “You must understand the level of my frustration when the very ministers and secretaries I expect to work with me and carry out the policy statements of the Bougainville Executive Council fail miserably,” Dr Momis said. “All known powers and functions have been drawn down but we have failed to understand this. We are an autonomous government and we should thoroughly understand this. “We have purposely created the Ministry of Economic Development on the premise that it would fast track economic projects and activities,” he said. “The Ministry will create favourable economic conditions that will jump-start economic activities that will transform to economic growth.

“This in turn will provide the basis for the ABG to promote fiscal self-reliance through our own taxes,” Dr Momis said. He said it was time for Bougainville to be realistic, learn to accept the realities and work for solutions and alternatives instead of dwelling on problems. He said that Bougainvilleans are aware that the ABG has been denied what is constitutionally and legally its rights on matters on national government funding. The government is working through diplomatic channels and, if necessary, the courts to demand what is due from the PNG government.


Mum Gives up Hope

Post Courier, May 17, 2017

SHE hears the planes arriving and departing from Tokua Airport every day bringing tourists and business opportunities to East New Britain and New Guinea Islands region. Many have experienced the luxury of using this modern mode of transport. But just across the Tokua runway, ten minutes drive into the peaceful community of Raiven within the Bitapaka LLG in Kokopo district, there is nothing to show for the much-talked about development and service delivery. Pauline Jeffery, 38, is a mother of nine children who goes through the normal struggles of a village mother who fends for her children. Mrs Jeffery goes out to fish and sells her fresh catch in Kokopo town at reasonable prices to feed her big family. A good catch will fetch between K200 and K300.  Recalling her early childhood, Mrs Jeffery said nothing has changed in the past 38 years. The road system needs major upgrading at certain areas which are always inaccessible during heavy rainfall. The entire community has given up hope in making a difference by voting this election, and it is not a concern if they do not take part in the voting. “Candidates can come and campaign here, we will hear what they have to say, but in the end it’s not a major issue that we vote for them,” she said. In the recent past the people have suffered, there has not been any government service into their area, though Raiven is only ten minutes from the main road from Tokua to Kokopo town.
The people need a clean water supply, rural electrification, aid post and a primary school for their children. Even at the back of the airport, and watching planes land and takeoff, there is no mobile phone reception, even just for sending messages. …..


Elections in Papua New Guinea’s dysfunctional democracy

18 May 2017

Author: Bill Standish, ANU

2016 for Papua New Guinea (PNG) was both politically turbulent and economically stressful with government revenues and currency falling, but inflation and deficit rising. The nationwide election in June–July 2017 will be a major measure of the political impact of the government’s critics, and the sustainability of Prime Minister O’Neill’s bankrolling tactics. In May 2016, a five week strike by university students called on O’Neill to resign over corruption and misgovernment allegations. Then in June, police shot at students marching to lobby parliament. After years of parliament not even considering attempted motions of no confidence, the Supreme Court ruled in July that the government must be held accountable. O’Neill survived the 22 July vote of no confidence 85 to 21, after allegedly dispersing district funds totaling many millions of kina through members of parliament (MPs). O’Neill was expanding a pattern set by Sir Michael Somare of a government largely based on allocating billions of kina each year to districts, funds which have contributed to PNG’s fiscal crisis. Unfortunately these funds — which MPs effectively control — have little positive impact on essential services.

The government acknowledges there is corruption but it’s not fighting it hard. The Police Fraud Squad director has estimated that in 2016 complaints of official fraud totaled 1.5 billion kina (US$472 million). Across the country, social media analysts have spread details of collapsing government services and corruption. …. While the constitutional rules of the game will favour the largest party in the house, only a brave observer will predict the outcome of PNG’s upcoming election.

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


As election looms, PNG political parties should consider supporting informal economy

May 17, 2017

by Busa Jeremiah Wenogo

As the National General Election looms Papua New Guineans are contemplating what the future will hold for them. While important issues concerning employment, infrastructure, education and health will be a key feature for most political parties, equally important for most of the urban voting population will be the new government’s approach towards the country’s large and undeveloped informal economy. Apart from market and street vending, PNG’s informal economy includes informal settlement that is expanding rapidly due to high rental costs and limited availability of low cost housing in most urban centres of the country. In urban centres such as Port Moresby and Lae informal economy is central to the livelihoods of the majority of the population. According to PNG’s Urbanisation Policy[1], “more than 80 percent of the urban unemployed are found in unplanned settlements and villages. However, more than not, the unemployed are involved in some form of income generation as they participate in the activities of the informal economy (informal sector)”. This number is expected to increase into the near future as major cities and centres throughout the country experience further growth and expansion. Driven by promises of transformational outcome as a result of the PNG LNG and large investments, many people rushed into big cities like Port Moresby and Lae in search of useful employment as well as other benefits. However, most of these people end up in the informal economy as employment opportunities become scarce. The situation becomes dire when urban development plans run counter to or do not include the interests of participants in the informal economy.  …There is no doubt that the sector is a “sleeping giant” and if given the right support – in terms of  government policies and laws as well as provision of credit and “political voice” – it can contribute significantly towards addressing some of the country’s development challenges such as rising unemployment and poverty.


[For the remainder of this article, see the url above]


Transparency PNG says prison system needs rethink

20 May 2017

TRANSPARENCY International Papua New Guinea says authorities need to rethink the way correctional services in the country are run. This comes after 17 prisoners were shot dead last week during a mass escape from Buimo Prison in Lae. Chairman of Transparency PNG, Lawrence Stephens, said there had been an increase in mass jail breaks in PNG in recent years. He said it was clear the system is not working. “It looks as though there is a challenge either in the budgeting of the corrective institutions or a lack of adequate training or there could be disciplinary issues,” Mr Stephens said. “But whatever it is, when you hear that 17 lives have been lost, you have to start questioning the way in which we are responding.”Meanwhile, Amnesty International called for the officers involved in the killings to be suspended and an independent inquiry held. Amnesty’s Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, Champa Patel, said PNG security forces’ use of lethal force in response to a prison breakout was alarming.

She said the PNG authorities must hold suspected perpetrators to account without recourse to the death penalty. “It is alarming that the security forces’ first response was to use lethal force against unarmed people without any concern for their right to life,” said Ms Patel.. “Prison reforms and accountability mechanisms are crucial to stop these incidents from happening again. “Whatever the crime committed by inmates, they have the right to be treated humanely.” In February last year 12 Buimo prisoners were shot dead in a breakout by 90 prisoners who had overpowered guards at the main gate.


3600 still on Manam, more eruption seen

May 22, 2017 The National

EXACTLY 3693 people are still on Manam Island and will need to be evacuated if the volcano eruption affects the whole island. Baliau village which is located at the safe side of the island from the current volcanic eruption has the highest number -2187 – still on the island. The worst affected Dugulava village has only 30 men left there as security guards over gardens and properties after 785 were evacuated to Mandi care centre two weeks ago. From Warisi village on the side of the island facing the open ocean, 71 people need to be evacuated. Madauri has 147 people, Waia has 153 after 75 made their own way to Potsdam care centre last week, Jogari has 283, Yasa 130, Kuluguma 458, Boda 205, Dangale 100, Koalang 40, Bokure 39, Abaria 70 and the neighbouring Boisa Island has 765 people in 165 households.
The Manam volcano continues to erupt occasionally with the latest big blast on Saturday night. Madang provincial disaster and emergency acting director Rudolf Mongallee said Madang provincial government spent K26,000 on food supplies for Dugulava people who were evacuated three weeks ago to Mandi care centre after the volcano first erupted on April 19. Mongallee said the National Disaster Office has assisted with K31,000 but the cheque printed had an error on the account name and was sent back for reprinting.
“That matter has been fixed and when that money comes through we will look at other logistics and additional operations for the disaster.” Mongallee said he has submitted a full report regarding the eruption to the National Disaster Office last week. Dugulava ward councillor Paul Maburau said food distributed at the care centre has run out and people were now going back to the erupting island to get food from their gardens. “Last week some people wanted to fight over some left over fuel to go to the island just for food,” Maburau said. He said the volcano was still erupting and producing lava that could be seen clearly at night with more thick smoke around the crater.


Sorcery Issue Raises Concern

Post Courier May 24, 2017

Sorcery-related issues reported in the media recently have raised concerns with authorities and agencies that are working to implement the Sorcery National Action Plan. The government has a national core committee led by the Department of Justice and Attorney-General working to implement the Sorcery National Action Plan to address sorcery and witchcraft related violence in the country. Department of Justice and Attorney-General and Family Sexual Violence Action Committee through the Sorcery National Action Plan Committee are raising these concerns following recent news articles on the torture of four women and the eventual death of a young woman tortured in Enga province in relation to sorcery-accusation related violence. As a member for the core committee, the Family and Sexual Violence Action Committee is against the brutal nature of violence that is being committed against helpless women in PNG as a result of sorcery accusations.As a sectoral committee of the Consultative Implementation and Monitoring Council, FSVAC is mandated to work towards reducing the occurrence and suffering caused by physical, sexual and psychological violence within families. CIMC-FSVAC condemns the torturous acts of violence that is leveled against vulnerable women in the communities with the intension to harm or end their lives. The National Core Committee is aware of the issues and is working with government agencies, churches, NGOs and community advocates in the affected provinces to address the issue and help survivors of violence. Just recently the Core Committee for SNAP held a province wide Consultation in Enga and Simbu to raise awareness of the issue and work with their provincial governments to set up provincial committees to address the issue. “No one or group in a community has the right to take away a person’s life for whatever reason. “Any act of violence committed against a person with the intention to harm or kill is a criminal offence and is punishable by law. The Government has taken stringent measures to address this issue with amendment of Section 299A of the Criminal Code which now prescribes the death penalty for all willful murder cases caused by sorcery accusations.

Extreme vetting process for refugees

May 25, 2017 The National

AMERICAN officials have commenced “extreme vetting” of refugees at Australia’s offshore detention centres on Manus Island and Naru, with lengthy interrogations about their associates and any links to the Islamic State, Reuters reports. Representatives of the US Department of Homeland Security left Manus Island having conducted 48 second-stage interviews, with two refugees divulging details of the process to Reuters. The Department of Immigration and Border Protection this week confirmed 268 people had completed their second-stage security interview with US officials, 220 in Nauru and 48 on Manus Island.
In a separate part of the process, the Department of Homeland Security also collects fingerprint and other biometric data. The third and final stage of the process is a medical assessment. Those assessments commenced in Nauru last week, with approximately 220 to be finished in this round, deputy immigration secretary Rachel Noble told a senate estimates hearing. “It will be some time yet before it is made clear how many people are going from Nauru and how many from Manus,” department secretary Mike Pezzullo said. But the commencement of security interviews indicated Washington would continue to honour the so-called people swap that US President Donald Trump had called “a dumb deal”.


Rubi Miranka and the Bougainville Healthy Community Programme

May 9, 2017

The Bougainville Healthy Community Programme (BHCP) is a program run through the Department of Health of the Autonomous Government of Bougainville (DoH) in PNG. In an evaluation report of the BHCP program, it is claimed as an ‘excellent example of well-planned and well-executed public health and community’ and that it is ‘rare to see such a holistic logic and rationale in a project, which has been effectively implemented within the enormous constraints and challenges of a post-conflict setting’. BHCP’s journey is a positive example of partnership between formal and informal institutions, stories of change agents and transformational leaders and good donor coordination. BHCP, which started as an offshoot of the Leprosy Mission in 2009, has now expanded and covers 739 of the 817 villages in Bougainville with 40 full-time staff.

… Bougainville is entering into the next chapter of its history with a referendum due in 2019 to determine its independence. Irrespective of the outcome of the referendum, there is an acute need to develop its resources. While income from the Panguna Mines and other sources of natural resources are being considered, Bougainville needs to focus on developing its human resources too. Rather than relying on mining of natural resources and the uncertain market, there needs to be a greater focus on human resource development.

Ramu sorcery-related case adjourned to July 13

Post Courier, May 26, 2017

A decision on the Ramu 122, sorcery-related murders has been further adjourned to July 13, yesterday afternoon. Resident judge Justice David Cannings, adjourned the case to July 13 for further final submissions from both the state and defense, despite giving theirs on Tuesday this week. In their recent submissions, the defense argued that the state gave conflicting names and couldn’t properly identify those picked out. The state said because the accused opted to remain silent, it made extra work, but all were involved as they had a common purpose and intent when proceeding to kill armed with weapons.

Justice Cannings said he needed further submissions from both, having taken into account; the number of accused, the number of counts of wilful murder, the potential consequences of finding one or more of the accused guilty of one or more of the charges on the indictment, that submissions on verdict presented by both were not sufficiently detailed enough, and that each of the accused are afforded full protection of the law. He therefore, directed that both parties prepare detailed submissions on verdict in relation to proper identification of the accused picked out during the walk through identification in the courtroom during trial.

The Ramu 122 case is so far the biggest murder trial so far to be heard in any court in the country since Independence. The trial was a sorcery-related killing in Naho Rawa LLG in the Rai Coast area of Madang, where a group of armed men in black soot and offensive weapons of sorts, attacked and killed five adults and two children under five years of age. Medical reports showed that all five were killed, their skulls broken and their brain matter removed. The killings were at Sakiko village, three hours by foot from Ranara junction.


3000 stranded while transport issues stall evacuation of Manam islanders

May 16, 2017 The National

MORE than 3000 people are still on Manam Island in Madang awaiting transportation to the main land after the two recent volcanic eruptions.

Dugulava Ward Councillor Paul Maburau said the volcano erupted again on Sunday around 6pm and continued to yesterday morning.

More than 2000 people are at Baliau village and 1000 living in the small villages. They need transport to come to the mainland quickly. “They are prepared to move out but they have no means to travel,” Maburau told The National. “The islanders are waiting for the prodisaster office to transport them out.”

According to a report from Volcanological Observatory, the behavior of the summit activity seen in the past few weeks is expected to continue. It advised the people on the island to remain vigilant and to take precautions when necessary. It also advised the remaining islanders to avoid venturing into the four valleys where they do their gardening. Last week, 887 people were evacuated from the island and were now living at the Potsdam care centre. Maburau said food supplied by the provincial disaster office should last for about a week. He said the Red Cross, World Vision and a woman only identified as Maureen has provided tents, mosquito nets and other basic necessities for temporary homes.


PNG needs mature education policy, not unsustainable give-away 16 May 2017

WE ARE going into the third week of this eight-week election campaign before polling in Papua New Guinea’s general election commences.

Unlike previous elections, this election appears more sedate. Social media is playing an important role with almost all political parties advertising their messages on Facebook and using social media more effectively. The ruling People’s National Congress has reportedly spent much money disseminating information about its polices in social and mainstream media. One of the PNC’s major pitches is the free education policy. It implemented this policy in office and it proved to haves weaknesses. In what looks like a counter attack, opposition leader Don Polye on behalf of his THE party seemed to write a political suicide note by saying he will scrap the free education policy and introduce “compulsory and subsidised education”. THE party’s policy will make it compulsory to attend school and for parents to pay fees up to Grade 12. But technical and university education will be free. Prime minister O’Neill condemned the opposition saying this was a reckless policy that would set the country back, reverse development and undermine economic growth. “This is the most reckless opposition campaign to be seen in elections for a long time,” he said.


Candidates are issuing weapons, teacher says

May 18, 2017 The National

A BOUGAINVILLE primary school teacher, who has been working in Southern Highlands for many years, says weapons are being smuggled in mostly by better educated people. BO, a teacher witnessed a helicopter carrying weapons landing on a sweet potato garden at the village where she was teaching.

She shared her experience during a meeting on social and security issues with key government security agencies and partners last week in Mendi in preparation for the general elections.

She said poor youths and subsistence farmers in the province were provided weapons by educated people, mostly candidates, in preparation for the elections and during tribal conflicts. “It was the poor people’s food garden that was destroyed and many people from the area thought someone important came but weapons were smuggled to the area,” she said. “The owner of the garden watched in surprise about what was going on, but it was the deal of the educated people doing all their best to smuggle high-powered weapons and that has now contributed to the build-up of firearms in the province.” She said she had been moving around the province, teaching in remote areas and during elections, and weapons were displayed and the hot topics were how to win the election and enter parliament. She said there were many awareness programmes carried out over the years on the freedom of choosing leaders and educated people should be the ones telling their people what should be done when electing leaders.


El Nino to hit us again

May 31, 2017 The National

THE people have been warned to brace themselves for another El Nino-induced drought soon, similar to one two years ago which badly affected thousands of citizens.
The National Disaster Centre is leading the planning for the natural disaster forecast for August this year so that the mistakes in 2015 and 2016, especially the lack of preparation, are avoided.
Centre director Martin Mose said planning was underway for the El Nino conditions predicted by global and regional climate agencies to happen in August.
It is likely to bring drier-than-normal conditions to PNG.
“In the past when El Nino happens, everybody starts going out and responding everywhere. We don’t like to do that (again) because we can miss the areas heavily affected and we can waste too much time on areas less affected,” Mose told The National.
He said their planning was based on scientific information from the regional integrated multi-hazard early warning system and the National Weather Service.
“It will show us exactly what area in the country is going to be affected and so we can focus our response effort accordingly,” he said.
The Government in its 2016 national budget allocated K220 million towards the drought recovery programmes. It also had to table a 2015 Supplementary Budget to address the shortfalls in revenue caused by factors including the closure of the Ok Tedi mine in Western.
Mose said the El Nino in 2015 and 2016 was challenging because they were still organising themselves when it struck.
“But because of our responsible Government, we were able to mobilise resources with the help of the United Nations,” he said.
He said for this year, they would be more prepared. National Weather Service assistant director Jimmy Gomoga said so far, the El Nino thresholds had not been reached.


No plans yet for Manam

May 31, 2017 The National

THE National Disaster Centre is awaiting word from the Madang provincial administration on the future of Manam islanders evacuation because of the recent volcanic eruptions.
Centre director Martin Moses said there were no plans yet for the islanders who were evacuated to the mainland after two eruptions early this month.
The Government through the disaster centre had allocated K31,000 to assist in the evacuation plus other expenses for their stay at the care centres in Madang.
“We haven’t got any plan or arrangements yet but they are our people and we cannot just leave them there,” Mose told The National.
“They (provincial administration) have to give us some indication as to how long they are planning to keep the people at the care centres.
“That will depend on the scientific advice from the Rabaul Volcanic Observatory. For the budget, we expect the Madang provincial administration to give us information so we can ask the government through the treasury and finance departments to make funding available. I’d like to know how much they need.”



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Social Concerns Notes – April 2017

Cash Aid or Program Aid – A Delicate Balance – Sam Koim

At the 25th Papua New Guinea–Australia Ministerial Forum held recently in Madang, the Government of Papua New Guinea (GoPNG) surprised the Australian Government Ministers in attendance by requesting the Australian Government to take a paradigm shift from its program and project based aid to direct budgetary support as was during early days of PNG’s statehood. Two reasons publicly given by the GoPNG for the request are that firstly, it is claimed that the Australian aid programs are running parallel to the GoPNG development agendas and secondly, it is perceived that a lot of middlemen are chewing up most of the funds that could otherwise be spent on tangible projects. It is understood such requests were made previously and Australia rejected it, but this time, the Australian Government had undertaken to consider it in an upcoming review on aid to PNG. Although the GoPNG denies the request is driven by the cash flow crises the country is facing, it is an open secret that the GoPNG is desperate for cash. The fruitless search for cash included a $US1 billion sovereign bond and a $US250m loan facility from the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation through the Central Bank of Papua New Guinea.

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

A budget and economic scorecard for the O’Neill government

Separating the Truth from the Lies by Kessy Sawang

An edited version of a speech she gave at the PNG National Party Convention.

I will start with the key indicator of fiscal management – the level of debt. From there I will then discuss the budget deficit and then touch upon the economy.   I’ll walk through what I call the headline issues but from this you will see that it has been an unprecedented scale of financial mismanagement, mistruths and a recklessness that almost seems to be a deliberate sabotaging of the national interest. This is a sad story of failure and the true costs are yet to be revealed. The adjustment required will be painful for our people.

As I said I have been selective in the topics I talk about today because of time constraints but the key message is one of a failed government that is driving our proud country to its knees. We see evidence of this already when this Government went cap in hand to the Australian Government to beg for budget support. This disgraceful begging was met with a stern rebuff from the Australian Government. This is a national embarrassment.

Let me start with this chart. What is shown is public debt for the years 2002 to 2016. The numbers on the vertical axis show the value of public debt in billions of Kina. I have separated the years with a red box. The years that appear within the red box are the years when Peter O’Neill has been the Prime Minister. What stands out clearly from the chart is that over the first nine years the level of public debt remained more or less steady. In fact the value at the end of 2002 was 8.4 billion Kina and up until 2011 it did not go higher than that level. So when O’Neill entered the office of the Prime Minister of PNG in 2011 he inherited a public debt level lower than that at 2002.

What is so clear if you look at this chart of public debt you can see that it has grown faster over O’Neill’s term than it did in the last term. On average, under O’Neill the level of debt has grown by 25% each year. This is an extraordinary growth and is unsustainable – in fact it has brought us closer to a major economic crisis.

[For the rest of this revealing article, see the url above.]

Paying compo not justice: Nili

March 31, 2017 The National

PAYING compensation, practised in many parts of the Highlands region, is a hindrance to the effective administration of justice in  communities, a senior police officer says. Senior Inspector Epenes Nili told a conference on sorcery-related violence in Wabag, Enga that there were laws in place to deal with compensation cases. Nili said it was used to maintain peace and order in the community, however, should not stop the prosecution of those who broke the law. He said a criminal case did not end when the perpetrator gave some form of compensation to the relative of the victim. He said some people resorted to compensation payments to the victims of a crime because they were afraid of being arrested and ending up in court. He said the culprits must be brought before the law and be  dealt with.
Police in the province are also focusing on curbing sorcery-related violence and urge victims to lodge their complaints. “If you shy away from this, how can we help you? It is a two-way thing.
“My fundamental duty is to protect lives. “If your life is in imminent danger, no one will kill you if you come and seek protection from the police.”

Malala students required to sign deal in cult crackdown bid

April 12, 2017 The National

STUDENTS at a Madang school are required to sign an agreement that they will stay away from any cult practices at the school. This follows a fight among students at the Malala Catholic Secondary School in Bogia, Madang.Bruno Tulemanil, the Catholic education secretary in Madang and a school board member, said the agreement was to stop cult practices which created other social problems in the school. Last month, he said a Grade 10 student got drunk and caused a rampage in school which led to its early closure for the Term One break. When the Grade 10 student was suspended, other Grade 10 pupils protested against the suspension and went out of control, he said. They were confronted by some Grade 11 and 12 students and led to a fight which damaged one of the boys’ dormitories. “This cult practice makes them stay silent and not report drinking habits in school,” Tulemanil said. He said students who reported drinking by other students were often beaten up. Tulemanil said part of the agreement was that boys returning to school were to pay K100 each to repair the damage they caused. “All the students will come with their parents to sign the agreement and bring K100 with them,” Tulemanil said.


PNG medical supplies contract comes under proper oversight

The National 17 April 2017

TRANSPARENCY International PNG (TIPNG) has welcomed the announcement by the Central Supply and Tenders Board chairman, Dr Ken Ngangan, that the medical supplies contract will be subject to the results of a public tender. Since 2013, TIPNG – through its Community Coalition Against Corruption – consistently asked for an investigation into the award of the contract to Borneo Pacific Pharmaceuticals after tendering rules were changed and the company was awarded a contract which cost the people of PNG nearly K100 million. “A reasonable explanation was never given and this money could have been better used,” Mr Stephens said.

“It is good to see the chairman of the Central Supply and Tenders Board reject yet another attempt by that company to be given preferential treatment and to oblige it to compete fairly.

Mr Stephens said strong signals need to be given and he welcomed Dr Ngangan’s signal that the “rights of the people be placed ahead of the demands of companies and their co-conspirators in decision-making positions to push PNG down paths it should be avoiding.”


Manam volcano erupts

The National, April 18, 2017

THE volcano on Manam Island in Bogia, Madang, erupted on Sunday evening, forcing many who had moved back there fleeing for safety. Paul Maburau, the ward councillor for Dugulava village on the island, said they saw flames coming out at around 7pm when many villagers were preparing to have dinner. He said fire was coming out of both craters of the volcano – the one between Bokure village and Kualang village, and the one between Dugulava and Warisi villages.
Maburau said more blasts came during the night and continued through yesterday.
“Every time there was a blast, the ground would shake,” he said.
“The place is very dark with the smoke from the volcano.
“We are taking refuge where we think is safe.”
He said some had left the island on the three available dinghies at Dugulava.
“Many of us left behind are now confused and scared of what will happen next,” Maburau said.
The provincial disaster office confirmed receiving the report from the island and would make plans to assess the situation today and assist the people.
Maburau said the people needed to be evacuated but fuel was the problem.
People from seven village in Giri confirmed seeing fire and smoke from Manam Island. “The volcano is now giving off dust and soon all our gardens will be spoiled,” Maburau said.
“This is my biggest fear because we will starve again.”

More ash spews over Manam

April 19, 2017 The National

THE Manam Island volcano in Bogia, Madang spewed more ash yesterday following eruption on Sunday.
Ward councillor for Dugulava village Paul Maburau said people who had access to transport left for Potsdam care centre on the Bogia mainland since Monday but some others needed help to be evacuated.
“We have dinghies but our problem now is fuel,” Maburau said.
The acting director for Madang provincial disaster and emergency office Rudolf Mongallee could not be reached for comment yesterday but a source from his office said the office was aware of the situation and had taken steps to communicate with authorities to help the people on the island.

Martin Ururu, the president for Iabu LLG representing the Manam islanders, said the people were neglected by the Government for as long as they lived in care centres.
He said those who had fought with landowners of care centres on mainland Bogia had no choice but moved back to the island and were now facing their fears and seeking refuge from the erupting volcano.


Response to Manam relief slow

Post Courier, April 21, 2017

WHILE panic and desperation have set in for the people who are on Manam Island, they can only hope and pray someone will come to their rescue. Today (Friday) will mark five days since the craters on the island erupted, spewing stones and heavy ashfall. Immediately, they are in need of fresh water, with their water sources, which are tanks and wells, most probably contaminated by the ashfall. However, government authorities in the province say cash flow is an issue and are depending heavily on the National Disaster and Emergency office to intervene. Provincial administrator Daniel Aloi, when contacted yesterday, said the provincial finance office had warrants, but these were without value, which meant there was no cash to back them. Mr Aloi said any assistance would be dependent on cash availability. Madang’s Provincial Disaster director Rudolf Mongalee also confirmed with local reporters that the office was without funds. Madang governor Jim Kas earlier this week said his office was without funds as he had not received the balance of the provincial services improvement program (PSIP) funds owed by the national government. His appeal to the National Disaster office was for urgent assistance with food rations and fresh water. Mr Kas had stressed that many islanders had moved back in spite of the dangers it posed, adding that those the government was likely to assist were only those from Baliau.

Meanwhile, a ward counsellor has expressed frustration over the lack of urgency by the government to their plight. He said, though it may be argued that the islanders should not have gone back to the island in light of the risks. Villagers from Dugulava who had been residing at the Tobenam and those from Baliau village from care centers were forced back due to the ethnic clashes with the mainlanders.


Bomana inmates take part in Way of the Cross

April 19, 2017 The National

FIFTEEN prisoners from the Bomana Prison Camp participated in carrying of the Way of the Cross in Port Moresby on Easter Friday. The prisoners, who were accompanied by three Correctional Services officers, carried the cross from Ela Beach to Down Town Fire Station and later participated in the programme all the way to Mary Queen of Pacific Parish in Waigani. Speaking on their behalf the prisoners, Sam Tom, a prisoner serving his 18th year this year, told The National that it was privilege for them to participate with the community. “Easter is the remembrance day for our Lord Jesus Christ, who came and died for our sins, so to participate with the community outside of prison to remember this day is a privilege for us.”
Tom’s message to youths, students and every Papua New Guinean was to think twice about everything they did. “Every individual must try to do what is good and abide by the laws because the consequence of wrongdoing in the prison is not good,” he said. Tom thanked Correctional Service Commissioner Michael Waipo and officers for allowing them to celebrate Easter outside prison.
Officer accompanying them Sergeant Thomas Gamuna said carrying of the Way of the Cross was an event in which prisoners from the low security unit were allowed to participate in. Among the 15 prisoners was convicted former Pomio MP Paul Tiensten.

Magistrate throws out one of two charges against refugee

April 19, 2017 The National

A COURT has dismissed a case against a refugee, charged with providing false statements to obtain a PNG passport enabling his travel to Fiji, because the prosecution could not prove its case. Waigani Magistrate Mekeo Gauli dismissed the case against Iranian refugee Loghman Sawari, 21, because the prosecution failed to establish the essential elements in the charge. The court found that the arrest of Sawari on Feb 3 was flawed because he was not accorded his rights under Section 42 of the Constitution before a recorded interview was conducted between him and the police. The court also found that the passport used by Sawari to travel to Fiji on Jan 20 was not submitted to court as evidence.
Gauli ordered that his bail of K1000 be refunded. Sawari is facing another charge under the Migration Act which is still pending in court. Sawari was among the asylum seekers sent by the Australian government to the processing centre on Manus three years ago.

Child labour worry

March 20, 2017 The National

THE country has been warned to protect its children against child labour and sexual exploitation, as most of the 186 million cases in the world are in the Asia-Pacific region. During the launching last week in Mt Hagen of the national action plan to eliminate child labour, Labour and Industrial Relations Minister Benjamin Poponawa said current laws on child labour were ineffective and must be updated. International Labour Organisation director of the Pacific Island countries Donglin Li thanked the Government for launching its action plan “to protect the right and freedom of children” He said of the 186 million around the world engaged in child labour, the highest number was in the Asia-Pacific region. Li said around 85 million children were engaged in hazardous work, 5.7 million in forced and bound labour, 1.8 million in commercial sexual exploitation and 600,000 involved in other illicit activities.

First Home Owner Scheme out of reach for average Papua New Guineans
Post Courier, April 12, 2017

A research paper published by the National Research Institute of Papua New Guinea (NRI) has raised concerns that the First Home Owner Scheme (FHOS) might be unrealistic for low income earners in the country. In 2013 the PNG government allocated K200 million into the FHOS which is managed by the Bank South Pacific (BSP). This was one of the government initiatives undertaken at the time to address the need for more affordable housing in the country, especially in some of the more populated urban areas. However, according to the study conducted by associate professor Eugene Ezebilo, any household that spends more than 30 per cent of their income on housing will have housing affordability problems.

Prof Ezebilo says considering the 30 per cent benchmark and the 4 per cent annual interest compounded on the loan, it would take the average low income earner in Port Moresby 60 years to repay the money sourced from the FHOS for a house in the lowest price range of about K300 000. Unfortunately FHOS conditions stipulates a forty year repayment period, which means that low income earners may not be able to benefit from the home ownership scheme. As of April this year, BSP has approved 534 home loans valued at K270 million under the FHOS.


Enga, SHP prone to violence
Post Courier, April 12, 2017

Enga and Southern Highlands have been identified as two provinces most prone to human rights violation during the National Election. This was highlighted during the recent Highlands Human Rights Defenders training in Mount Hagen in which 15 participants from the Highlands provinces raised concerns about possible human rights abuses in the coming months. The Defenders said that violation of human rights during the election period was very real and huge, but they mostly go unnoticed, or is not addressed seriously. Facilitator and adviser to the United Nations Office of the Human Rights Commission, Kedar Poudyal, told participants to identify the hotspot provinces for abuses and plan strategies that could be used for corrective actions to address human rights violation. Participants identified problems during elections as isolation of polling booths, women and girls threatened and forced to vote against their will and discrimination of the marginalised and vulnerable population during voting.

The training for Highlands Human Rights Defenders was held on March 27-29 at Hotel Kimininga jointly organised by the Religion, Youth and Community Development Department, UN Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights and Oxfam.


Children appeal for Mother’s Release

Post Courier, April 21, 2017

FOUR children whose father was killed in a recent car accident in Mount Hagen, have appealed for their mother to be released from prison. Jonah Samuel, the elder son of the late Samuel Goi, made this appeal representing his three siblings, Lydia, Levai and Boss, who have been living with their father for the last ten years.Their mother, Grace Samuel, is serving time in Barawagi Jail, Simbu Province. The mother of the four children was sentenced to ten years imprisonment for killing another woman. Twelve-year-old Jonah, who is in grade four at Ogelbang Primary School, said the burden of looking after Lydia, 10, Levai, nine and six-year-old Boss is an enormous. Jonah will be the one to take charge after the passing of his father as their grandparents died a long time ago. “We don’t have anyone to take care of us. My mother is from Eastern Highlands Province and all my uncles, aunties and bubus are at Asaro,” Jonah said.He made an appeal to the Department of Correctional Service (CS)and Justice Department to release his mother even though she has three more years to serve in prison from the 10 years sentenced.

“We are appealing to the CS and the courts to release our mother. I am only in grade four, Lydia and Levai are in grade two and Boss is in elementary. “We are all in school and we don’t have someone to cook for us, wash our clothes, buy our clothes and meet our needs. Our father died and mother is in prison. Their absences in the house leave a vacuum that breaks our hearts every moment.

Jika Delemp community leader Afike Kunai said the children’s father had a disability, and he raised the kids all his life without their mother until he was allegedly killed and pushed into the river by a car.


Do anticorruption messages work?

Findings so far and what they could mean for Papua New Guinea

By Caryn Peiffer on April 20, 2017

Most anticorruption programs now include an awareness-raising element. The hope is that anticorruption messages – whether shared via posters, radio or TV, for example – will inspire citizens to refuse to pay bribes and to report any corruption they encounter. But there is so far little evidence available to tell us how effective these messages are. Some scholars have argued that they might even backfire and discourage the reporting of corruption. Could such messages simply prompt people to recall preconceived views that corruption is a widespread, insurmountable problem?

Together we recently also looked at PNG citizens’ willingness to report corruption. Using 2010-2011 household survey data and quantitative analysis, we asked which factors influenced willingness to report several different types of corrupt acts, and to what extent. A key finding was that citizens were less likely to be willing to report corruption if they lacked trust that the authorities would take action as a result. This suggests that in PNG an awareness-raising approach may have little effect. In the 2010-11 household survey, 38% of the 1,825 respondents agreed with the statement, ‘There is no point in reporting corruption because nothing useful will be done about it.’ [See url above for the full article]


PNG at 40: reflecting on the past to build a solid future for Papua New Guinea

By Paul Barker on April 6, 2017

By the global standards of newly independent nations, Papua New Guinea experienced a relatively smooth transition to nationhood and comparatively untraumatic, or at least peaceful subsequent years. Although some observers predicted turmoil and breakup of the country upon Independence from Australia in 1975, instead PNG has remained intact and sustains a vibrant democracy, despite ongoing stresses and some clear aberrations from most political norms (not least the pursuit of politics seemingly oversubscribed, and not entirely for altruistic reasons). Although much has certainly been achieved in PNG over the past 41 years, the optimism that overtook much of the population around Independence has morphed for many into a level of disappointment and frustration over aspects of the country’s economic, social, political and cultural development.

Maybe the expectations at Independence were unrealistically high, and have been further fuelled by constant promises of wealth emanating from the country’s resources, which for much of the population (including those termed ‘resource owners’) have not converted into reality. Instead, access to economic opportunities and quality public goods and services has proven limited, especially in rural parts of the country seemingly deteriorated, whilst violent crime, and particularly violence against women and children, remain a constant threat in the major urban centres.

Often referred to as PNG’s ‘paradox of development’, resource wealth and periods of strong economic growth have failed to date to deliver broad-based and sustained economic and social opportunities, including strong and satisfactory improvement in social indicators. PNG is not alone in experiencing such travails of development, aspects of which are sometimes termed the ‘Resource Curse’, but the country should be able to achieve more meaningful improvements for the lives of its population into the future without forfeiting its cultural or environmental heritage, which are featured strongly in the National Constitution.

The PNG at 40 Symposium was organised by the Institute of National Affairs (INA) to bring together a team of dedicated persons with an immense wealth of experience of policy making and its application in PNG, to reflect on lessons and experience from the past and to contribute to preparing for and addressing the challenges of the future. The Symposium, held in March 2016 in Alotau, was intended to develop a home-grown, constructively critical and useful analysis of PNG’s forty years of independence, and to extract what can be learned from that experience to address current issues and inform future planning. It is hoped the symposium’s output will make a significant and practical contribution to the challenging and continuing task of nation-building. The three-day, by-invitation symposium was attended by 40 men and women who have been, are and intend to be engaged in shaping PNG’s political and economic development. They came from all walks of life: political, governmental, non-governmental, private sector, academia and the churches, and almost entirely Papua New Guineans.

Nine papers were commissioned from participants for presentation. The subjects fell within four broad themes – (i) PNG as a nation-state, (ii) PNG as a developing economy, (iii) PNG as an ethnically diverse society, and (iv) PNG in the Pacific, Asia and the world. Participants debated the issues raised by the papers, shared observations and insights, analysed lessons from past experience, and collectively reached reasoned conclusions about what lies ahead, and how PNG can best manage and influence current and foreseeable problems and issues.

A final session was devoted to Shaping and Building PNG’s future. Here, the participants built on the conclusions reached in the prior nine sessions and narrowed these down to Five Strategic Priorities:

  • Repair the Broken Political System
  • Shift the Focus from Monetary GDP to Broad Based and Sustainable Economic Growth
  • Restore a Professional, Accountable, Public Service and Institutions
  • Comprehensively and Effectively Apply the Rule of Law
  • Recognise and Promote PNG Culture

A central concern of the Symposium was the declining adherence to the rule of law and established systems and processes, including the National Constitution, both in government and across society. There was considerable discussion over the suitability of the Westminster system, as currently applied, and the vacuum associated with the shift from traditional Melanesian leadership and accountability arrangements to new and relatively alien systems of government (despite the recognition for traditional ways highlighted in the Constitution). However, it was emphasised that whatever system of government applies or is adapted over time, respect and adherence to the rule of law and accepted rules for society form the basis of a working society. Much needs to be done to reverse the slippage from that principle that has occurred over the years in most spheres of public life and accountability, both at the political and public service levels and more widely through society, in order to ensure the necessary and steady improvement in social and economic opportunities for the nation’s entire population.

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Social Concerns Notes – March 2017

Yuri peace building activities focus on mobilising youth

01 March 2017

AT the heart of all the activities of the Yuri Alaiku Kuikane Association (YAKA) are the 4Rs – reunion, reconciliation, rebuilding and restoration. YAKA – established to bring the Yuri people of Simbu peace and development – has quietly celebrated many achievements over the last three years. Cultured Yuri people understand that these achievements are the seeds of a continuously peaceful society. It is their gift to ensuing generations. Unfortunately, there are uncultured people who don’t understand and appreciate YAKA’s achievements.

In these three years, there has been renewed tribal unity. It can happen over beer, shared cigarettes, chatting on Facebook, email, cultural events, youth camps or just walking and talking along the bush tracks of home amongst the never ending gorges and mountain ridges.

These are some of the manifestations of tribal unity and celebration.

In the last week of December and on the first day of January each year, YAKA members come together to celebrate. The Yuri people are scattered all over Papua New Guinea, looking for a better life just like other Papua New Guineans. A few work and live in other countries.

They are hard-working people, who contribute tirelessly to nation building: some at tribal level, others at government level and others using the churches as a vehicle to unite the tribe and expose it to development challenges. [for the full article, see the url above]


TB rate skyrocketing

March 3, 2017 The National

THE rate of new infections for tuberculosis (TB) per year in Papua New Guinea has increased from 3000 in 2005 to 30,000 in 2015, an official says. Businesses for Health (B4H) TB project manager Dr Ann Clarke said at a project launching: “Business for Health TB project aims to engage the private sector to support the Department of Health’s efforts to end the TB epidemic and reduce the high rates of drug resistant TB, particularly in the National Capital District. “Around 20 per cent (more than 6000 of the nearly 30,000 new TB infections in PNG were detected in National Capital District in 2015.”
“I am not here to try and turn you into TB experts and TB doctors. I am here to change behaviours and to provide network and information necessary for you to make use of the world class facilities that can be found in 15 locations around the NCD. “If we can stop people getting sick, after one year and two years and start attending to people coughing up to two weeks we can change the pace of this epidemic.”


B’ville independence depends on Panguna
Post Courier, March 03, 2017

THE Bougainville Government’s position on Panguna mine had always been clear – to re-open it, says Bougainville Vice-President Raymond Masono. Mr Masono said that the region would have fiscal self-reliance and also the majority of Bougainvilleans would enjoy a better life again when the mine re-opens. He said there was opposition to the mine re-opening but they were a minority. “We need Panguna to finance independence for Bougainville,” he added. Mr Masono said that the mine would bring quick development and it still had a large known reserve yet to be mined. Last week in Buka, K5 million was paid to four landowner associations. The cheque payment by Bougainville Copper Limited was done at Kuri Village Resort and was witnessed by Mr Masono, ABG Ministers, senior government officers and staff. “It is not the devil that we used to know, but it’s now the devil that we own,” Mr Masono said in reference to BCL, adding that it would be foolish go out looking for other developers when BCL was available. Six landowner associations that were established before the Bougainville Crisis (1988-1998) and another three were established after the conflict, bringing the total to nine landowner associations. More than K14 million will be made to the Panguna landowner groups when Bougainville Copper Limited completes outstanding claims are settled.


BCL compensation payments trigger disputes in Bougainville

09 March 2017

LAST Saturday morning at around 10 o’clock two vehicles passed my hamlet at the entrance of the Panguna mine’s pit drainage tunnel. On them were faces I knew from Konnuku Village, downstream from the Panguna tailings carried along in the Kabarong River. All the faces were angry and showed there was a purpose to their run. That purpose became clear on Monday. An entire family homestead was torched. The victims lost all their property and valuables, including money, to the fire. The reason for the raid was that the father of the family was said to have received K50,000 in compensation from Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL) for land blocks owned by his matrilineal family and he was not sharing it with his matrilineal uncles and nieces. Such anti-social quakes are now rocking the entire Panguna mine affected areas as they receive outstanding compensation owed to them by BCL since 1990 when the Bougainville conflict interrupted mining operations. During the heyday of BCL on Bougainville, landowners with legal title to land affected by company operations received monthly royalties. My grandmother said she received about K170 a month.

After almost 25 years she will get K7,000. This is because some of the blocks of land were under her name and legal ownership devolved to her children and grandchildren but not my mother, who did not want us to have title to any piece of land belonging to our extended family. My mother claims too many Bougainvilleans have suffered as a result of the Panguna mine thus, for her, this is blood money. We do not want to benefit from blood money.

My mother’s stand is not an isolated one. Within the benefiting communities people’s social bonds are being axed by this process. ….

What belongs to the landowners of the mine affected areas belongs to them. It is their business with BCL. But maintaining a harmonious co-existence within our community is paramount for Bougainville as a whole.


Caritas Coodinators opposes sea bed mining
Post Courier, March 06,2017, 10:00 am

CARITAS Coordinators from 19 Catholic Dioceses of the Catholic Church of PNG have opposed the decision to experiment deep sea mining in PNG. The organisation held its Annual Caritas PNG Forum 2017 in Madang last month and among others opposed and called to put a stop to experimental seabed mining in PNG waters. The group said in a statement that the negative impacts of the mine greatly outweigh the anticipated benefits. “Therefore, in solidarity with Alliance of Solwara Warriors, Bismarck Ramu Group, and other concerned organisations, we are compelled to speak out on behalf of the affected silent majority in the rural coastal and island communities,” the group said. The group added that the Prime Minister Peter O’Neill and the Mining Minister Byron Chan to order an immediate ban on experimental seabed mining. We call on all governors and Open Members of Parliament of Maritime Provinces to support this call on behalf of their people.


Converting illegal leases makes people slaves on own land 07 March 2017

COMMUNITY advocacy group Act Now has condemned plans by the Papua New Guinean government to convert unlawful land leases to another form of land tenure using Incorporated Land Groups. Act Now says converting the so-called SABL leases will not only repeat injustice and human rights abuses, it will give control of vast tracts of land to a small number of people overseen by a corrupt and dysfunctional Department of Lands. Act Now says the plan is an attempt by the government to appease the foreign owned logging industry and oil palm companies and ensure a continuation of their illegal occupation of customary land.

“If the land ends up being registered then it could be sold, leased or mortgaged again and again,” Act Now said. “It is the next step in making people slaves in their own communities and excluding them permanently from their land.” Act Now said the only proper course of action is for the government to cancel the leases and return the land to customary landholders. It will then be for the people to decide on the future of their land. It said that over the past 10 years fraudulent Special Agriculture Business Leases have been used to steal rights to more than five million hectares of customary land from local communities. Prime Minister Peter O’Neill had promised the government would implement the recommendations of a Commission of Inquiry and cancel the leases; but now the Lands Minister wants to convert them to another form of land tenure.


‘No safety gear on Rabaul Queen’
Date: March 10, 2017, 5:08am

SAFETY equipment were non-existent on the vessel the night the Rabaul Queen sank in the waters of Morobe Province on February 2, 2012, claiming more than 170 lives. A State witness Elvin Lunagau said this during the trial of the owner of the ship, Peter Sharp.

Mr Sharp and Peter Tsiau, the captain of the vessel the night it sank, are facing several charges of manslaughter before the Kokopo National Court in East New Britain Province. Mr Lunagau told the court that the vessel had no life jackets on board when it left Kimbe wharf in West New Britain Province. He is the first of more than 10 witnesses who will be giving evidence in the first week of the trial. Mr Lunagau gave evidence that the ship was overloaded, making it impossible for passengers in the lower decks to escape when it started sinking..


No dialysis treatment to cure chronic kidney disease in PNG
Post Courier, March 10, 2017

CHRONIC kidney disease (CKD) is becoming increasingly prevalent around the world, and Papua New Guinea is no exception. According to data collected by the PNG Kidney Foundation in 2016, around 40 per cent of deaths in PNG are because of the diseases and 60 per cent of patients suffer from chronic kidney disease that requires dialysis, but cannot afford to get treatment. Only 40 per cent of patients are able to seek further treatment.

Mr Poh said currently, in the foundation, they have seen more than 70 patients who have been diagnosed with chronic kidney failure and undergo hemodialysis treatment three times a week. “So far we have provided 2000 sessions of hemodialysis treatment,” he said.

“It’s a problem I’ve noticed from the last couple of years where many patients have come in to the Port Moresby General hospital but we do not have proper facilities and we lose many of the patients. “Because we do not have much to offer, and we continue to tell the patients that if you do not have this amount of money to go overseas for kidney transplant, this is the end of the road to life,” he said.


PNG surprises Australia with request to change structure of aid

AUSTRALIA’S increasingly tricky relationship with Papua New Guinea could be about to get more difficult. The PNG government has asked Australia to directly fund its health and education spending after it suffered a severe economic downturn and was forced to make major budget cuts. PNG used the 25th ministerial forum between the two countries to ask Australia to shift its $500 million of annual aid away from narrowly-focused programs into helping fund its health, education and infrastructure priorities. Australia has given $5 billion in aid over the last decade, but has been changing its approach for the past few years.

Some comments: I’m quite happy for my Australian taxes to go towards helping PNG solve its Health and Education problems. The Health problem is huge. People are dying everyday from curable illness. The future of PNG relies on its Education.

Here is a comment from a Health Worker in Maprik in the Sepik, one of my friends, made yesterday….

“We are now facing the problem of the decisions made by the top people and the government of that time and now we are using some of the sub standard drugs.

“For example the current Lignocaine vial for injection to stop pain before suturing a wound is not working, but we suture the patients with pain which is unethical and unprofessional.

“Still worse, all Health facilities in PNG are facing serious drug shortages than all the previous years before 2013. “Currently all Health workers are referring their patients to pharmacies to buy their own drugs or for those who cannot afford to buy are asked to use herbal remedies to treat themselves. “The people are being told to look after themselves as all Health facilities are facing the problem of drug shortage while the country is facing cash flow problem.


Papua New Guinea gets a dose of resource curse

By Michael Main from the Australian National University

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. The project extracts natural gas from the Papua New Guinea highlands, where it is processed before being sent via some 700 kilometres of pipeline to a plant near the nation’s capital, Port Moresby. The gas is then liquefied and transferred into ships for sale offshore. Construction for the project began in 2010, and the first gas shipment was made in May 2014.


In the years since construction began, Papua New Guinea’s ranking on the United Nations Development Program’s Human Development Index has fallen by two places to 158, having been overtaken by Zimbabwe and Cameroon. Far from enhancing development indicators, the largest development project in PNG’s history has coincided with an unprecedented downgrade in the country’s development status. But very little is known about the actual impact of the project on local landowners. This is largely due to the remote location of the gas field in the mountainous Hela Province. The dire security situation in that part of Papua New Guinea also makes any investigation a highly dangerous undertaking.


But the reality — after four years of operation and windfall profits for the project’s joint venture partners — is that the project has delivered almost nothing of benefit to landowners.

The most terrifying aspect of life in Hela province has been the proliferation of weapons. The This pre-existing context of intense inter-clan rivalry has been made worse by the frustrations of a population hammered by the broken promises of the nation’s largest resource development project. Much of this fighting is a direct result of payments made to landowners displaced by the project. Compensation money paid to affected clans invariably ends up in the hands of individuals who fail to distribute the funds properly or support their own families, and the money is always paid to men. 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.


All SABLs unlawful
March 14,2017, 01:28 am

PRIME Minister Peter O’Neill has confirmed that the National Executive Council has cancelled all licences and SABLs are illegal. He said this in response to a community advocacy group Act Now which had been vocal about the land grab issue in relation to SABL – special agriculture and business leases. “I have made a decision that I can make that is legally required of me and NEC, that is that we have cancelled all the licences, all the SABL licenses are illegal in this country.” PM O’Neill said.

“I think that its best that you ask the agencies like Lands and Physical Planning Department why are these licenses are still operating, that’s a very good question, you should ask them why they are still operating, somebody is not doing their job.”

“SABL licences are illegal in this country, but some people have disregard for the decisions that we are making and this is where Police and Lands and Physical Planning Department and agencies of our government should work together and stop these people”

“Most of them are not Papua New Guineans so why are they still in the country, they should be put on a plane and sent back home,” Mr O’Neill said.


Sir Salamo: Processing of refugee status fair

March 14, 2017 The National

CHIEF Justice Sir Salamo Injia says that 69 per cent of asylum seekers receiving refugee status at the Manus regional processing centre shows that there is a fair and merit-based process in place. Sir Salamo was part of a panel of three judges from the Supreme Court who refused to stop the deportation of asylum seekers classified as non-genuine refugees.
“The high number of refugees has now placed the Government of PNG and the government of Australia under enormous and onerous responsibility to settle them in a new home country of their choice, including Australia and PNG,” Sir Salamo said.
He said the respondents in the matter, the State and Foreign Affairs and Immigration Minister “At the peak of the transfers (of asylum seekers to Manus) in November 2013, the number of transferees reached 1339,” Sir Salamo said.
“On March 6, the number was reduced to 888. I would have to assume that the difference of 451 transferees has already been processed and no question arises in respect of them.
“The respondents (State and Pato) say some of those have returned to their home countries voluntarily. “Of the 888, a total of 819 transferees have been processed of which 614 (69 per cent) have been determined to be genuine refugees, 205 (23 per cent) determined to be non-refugees and 69 (3 per cent) still remain asylum seekers and their applications are under processing.”Sir Salamo said that the processing of asylum seekers’ refugee status should remain the responsibility of the PNG Government through the application of PNG law and international law on refugees.


MP urge churches to challenge Govt
Post Courier, March 15, 2017

CHURCHES have been accused of being compromised because they do not criticise the Government over serious issues affecting the people. They have also been blamed for not keeping the government in check.nThis is according to Deputy Opposition Leader Sam Basil who was speaking at a policy awareness gathering at the Mutzing Station in Morobe Province. Mr Basil also said despite bringing a Bible into Parliament, Members had no respect for it and were creating deals everywhere when they should be repenting. Mr Basil praised the Catholic Bishop’s Conference as the only Christian entity that prominently spoke out on issues affecting the people. “Churches must question the government,” Mr Basil said.

He said the churches are a body that can question the government in the interest of the people.

“I commend the Catholic Bishop’s Conference because they are vocal about issues affecting our people,” Mr Basil said. He said the leaders of this nation are abusing the Christian title that PNG has.


Shortage of medicine due to administrative delays
Post Courier, March 14, 2017

The Governments failure to renew the contract for medical supplies has health facilities feeling the pinch of medicine shortage. Finance secretary and acting chairman for CSTB Dr Ken Ngangan said yesterday that an administrative delay has led to an interim arrangement (Certificate Of Inexpedience) with State Solicitor seeking  the extension of the current 100 percent medical kits contract with Contractor Borneo Pacific for one year. This means that the medicine contractor Borneo Pacific Pharmaceuticals will continue to supply medical drugs for one year. (Beginning November 2016). Dr Ken said sent a letter to the health secretary requesting that his department fast tract the new contacts so that delays may not occur again.


Domestic violence increasing, says Police

March 15, 2017 The National

CASES of domestic violence reported in the suburbs of Waigani are alarming and need to be addressed, an officer says. Chief Sergeant Andrew Geluwa of the Waigani police station said at least 25 cases were reported to the station each day.
“There are lots of reported cases of domestic violence in other stations but for Waigani alone, it is scary,” he said.
“It is at an alarming rate and we have to do something to address it because the media do not see what is happening to the people.” Geluwa said most of the reports received were from highlanders living around Waigani. He said the traditional belief that men own their wives after paying bride prices was one of the reasons for the increase. He said men attacked their wives after paying the bride price without realising that wife-bashing was a crime.
Senior Constable Marlton Bessie said the figures were alarming. “In 2016, when we looked at the statistic in the first two months, it was terrible. Every day, we are receiving reports of about 25 cases,” Bessie said. “That happens every single day in a week and it is scary to see that most of the cases received from the front desk all are related to family issues, whether it is assault or rape.”


Churches urged to help fight HIV hike
Post Courier, March 16, 2017

HEADS of churches have been encouraged to make proactive recommendations on how they will address the root causes of HIV transmission and sensitive issues associated with it.

Catholic Archbishop of Port Moresby Cardinal John Ribat said this at the first HIV Summit for Heads of Churches at the Stanley Hotel in Port Moresby yesterday. “As heads of churches, we will have to report back on our HIV Statement of Commitment which was signed on May 5, 2010. “It is also a time for us to learn about the current HIV situation at the country, regional and global level and to see where the response gaps are and how we as churches can respond to addressing those gaps,” he said. “This summit is not about solving the problem of HIV and AIDS but it is more about finding a solution through collective effort that will impact on distorted values, attitudes and behaviors of people. “We must focus on building relationships with our people through Christian love and service so that we may be able to lead them to Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit,” he said. Cardinal Ribat urged the Government to increase domestic funding to support church programs driven to address the root causes of GBV and HIV transmission. He said in order to build and maintain that relation, the Christian leaders have to effectively communicate with the people through provision of programs and services at the community level.


Ex-inmates invited to mentor city youth
Post Courier, March 16, 2017

EX-prisoners of Hope Association in Lae are inviting youths and ex-prisoners, convicts to refrain from crime and illegal activities and join their association. Ex-prisoners and founders of the Ex-prisoners Association Levi Ateike Bata and Richard Mongofa, in an interview, told Post-Courier it is time the prisoners preach and conduct awareness on the ‘life in the fast lane’ so that today’s youth can understand better.

Mr Ateike said minimising crime activities in the city can be fulfilled with the Ex-prisoners of Hope programs to change the mindset of youths and prisoners and give them a hope for a better future. He said today’s generations or gang groups must come to an understanding that police forces and laws and ways of organised crime activities in the past is not an exception compared to today’s disciplinary and law system. “I am now calling on the ex-prisoners and youth who are still involved in criminal activities to starting making the choice to join us and leave ‘the life of the fast lane,’” said Mr Ateike. He said crime will never take you anywhere but you will always end up at the prison and that is how crime is designed by the world.


Women with Disability still feel threatened
Post Courier, March 15, 2017

Access to public transportation for women with disability is non-existent and something must be done about it, says PNG Assembly of Disable Persons national executive treasurer and spokesperson Benson Tegia. “Women with disability feel threatened, unsafe and vulnerable to discrimination attacks when they try to access basic services,” he said.

He added that discrimination was another issue that most women with disability faced because many able bodied people are scared or have attitude problems. “We need to educate and create more awareness for able bodied people to understand that PWD’s are normal human beings like anyone else and deserve the same treatment, either it be security at home, accessing shops, hotels or being able to walk down the street without anyone giving that person the eye,” said Tegia. “Our city environment is built in a way that everything is at a disadvantage for persons living with disability, the foot paths are narrow, there’s no ramps for PWD’s to have access to shops, buses, clubs, hospitals and the list goes on,” said Tegia.

He added that as tax payers, PWD’s had the right to access basic services.


PNG tops HIV statistics in Pacific

March 16, 2017 The National

PAPUA New Guinea has the highest HIV prevalence among the Pacific island nations – with the concentration highest in the Highlands provinces, an official says.National Aids Council Secretariat regional manager Valentine Tangoh told a summit of church leaders in Port Moresby discussing HIV/AIDS in PNG, that HIV prevalence was around 0.8 per cent among men and women between 15 and 49 years of age. Enga recorded 1.7 per cent, Jiwaka 1.6 per cent, Western Highlands 1.3 per cent and Eastern Highlands one per cent. He said studies showed a high prevalence of HIV among female sex workers (19 per cent), male sex workers (8.8 per cent) and transgender males. Tangoh said the HIV prevalence rate in other provinces was also increasing. The key groups were men and women involved in the sex industry, he said. He also told the church leaders that the key groups were often discriminated against.
“Even the police refuse to file cases, (public sector) staff refuse to provide services which the key population need, and most commonly, family rejection,” Tangoh said.

How rural women can become Papua New Guinea’s agribusiness entrepreneurs

14 Mar 2017

Women in rural Papua New Guinea are keen to engage in agribusiness but many have traditionally struggled to take leadership roles. That is beginning to change, Curtin University researcher Dr Gina Koczberski tells Business Advantage PNG.

Operating small-scale agribusiness financially empowers women by giving them greater control of household income and expenditure, according to Dr Gina Koczberski, who is researching ways women in rural areas of Papua New Guinea can take up more leadership roles in agribusiness. It also results in a range of benefits for the wider community. On average, 75 per cent of income generated by women is used to meet family needs, compared with 25 per cent of men’s income. …


‘Causes of HIV remain’

March 17, 2017 The National

THE factors that cause the rise in HIV transmission remain today, according to National Catholic AIDS coordinator Sister Tarcisia Hunhoff. Hunhoff told the church leaders’ HIV summit in Port Moresby it appeared that “the same warnings that prompted concern in the past, including high level of sexually-transmitted infection and high level of sexual risks behaviour, social urban drift are evident today”. “An added factor in recent years is the resource boom that is bringing money and mobility to many people particularly in the remote areas,” she said. “The church is challenged by this situation in more than one way. What then is the church responses? Can we identify ourselves as bystanders, onlookers or judges or somebody who tried to understand what was happening?
“How then did you and I perceive the epidemic?” She said the change in lifestyle and behaviour remained the main cause of gender-based violence which was a root causes of the spread of HIV/AIDS. “I have lived 47 years in PNG and I have seen so many changes in lifestyle in behaviour. One of the contributions to the HIV epidemic in my opinion is the problem of social disintegration,” she said. “Society has disintegrated which is a very sad story. And out of this integration, all the problems we are seeing with HIV and gender-based violence.

High cost of living causes poverty

March 17, 2017 The National

THE rapidly rising cost of living in the country appears to be a major contributor to the high poverty rate since 2009, an official says. Martyn Namorong is the national coordinator of the PNG Resource Governance Coalition and Secretariat for Institute of National Affair Consultative Implementation and Monitoring Council. “Poverty levels in PNG have gotten worse over the last decade. This indicates that being able to get out of poverty for those people who are poor are near impossible,” he said. He said urban poverty was likely to become one of the most important development challenges facing PNG and threatened progress. A study by the Waikato University, New Zealand found that between 1996 and 2009, there was no evidence of poverty decline in PNG (John Gibson 2013). It found that poverty instead had become more widespread with the rapid rise of urban living being the major contributing factor. Poverty in Port Moresby worsened because a larger share of six percent of the national poverty tally joined the poor. “Definitions of poverty in PNG tend to be debates over semantics. But the work by the Waikato University presented evidence of the child not growing as an indicator of nutritional poverty.”


Manam settlers facing school fees problems

March 17, 2017 The National

The people of Manam Island in Madang, who are living in care centres are facing school fees problems, their council president says. Iabu LLG president Martin Ururu said apart from other problems faced by the Islanders, school fees were a major concern for all parents.
Around 12,000 people of Manam Island were forced to evacuate the island in 2004 when a volcano erupted and they are now living in care centres in Bogia and Sumkar districts.
“My officers have been bombarded with request for school fees but my LLG cannot help because there is no money,” Ururu said. He said the Manam Resettlement Programme should assist the parents. “The LLG has been trying its best to pay school fees for university students, vocational and technical students but unfortunately we are running out of money because last year the Government didn’t give us our funds and now the LLG cannot assist,” Ururu said. Other problems faced by the Manam people include food shortage, poor housing, lack of clean drinking water, shortage of medical drugs and conflicts with landowners.


Australia on Manus: ‘Tough luck PNG, the refugees are your problem

I CAN tell you what the Australian government is going to do about the refugees on Manus Island who won’t be resettled in the United States. Nothing.

There are potentially hundreds of men on Manus Island who could — if the figure of 1,250 refugees to be taken by the United States is correct — be left behind.

Parliamentary Library figures show there are at least 1,616 refugees on the two islands — 941 on Nauru and 675 on Manus. The US government has said it is assessing them for resettlement on the basis of vulnerability, which suggests the women and children on Nauru will take priority over the all-male population of the Manus Island centre. That could mean hundreds of refugees will remain on Manus Island. Their only option to leave Manus is resettlement elsewhere in Papua New Guinea — something most have steadfastly resisted.

The PNG government wants to know what plans Australia has for those men, given it wants to close the centre by the end of October. Planning Minister Charles Abel outlined PNG’s concerns after the annual ministerial forum between PNG and Australia recently.

“Some [of the men] are caught in the middle and that’s the difficult piece that needs to be addressed in this short time frame,” he said. “What happens to those people that don’t want to settle here and are unable to return home for some reason? That’s an issue that both parties have to resolve.” The number of refugees working and living in the PNG community — those who are considered “resettled” — fluctuates, but is usually less than two dozen. Many find it too hard, or too dangerous, to live in PNG and return to Manus Island.


Church requests govt to assist health workers
Post Courier, March 23,2017

MARY, Queen of Peace sub-health centre will provide other services if government steps in to pay some health workers. This was the request from Vicar General Father Arnold Schmitt during the opening of the K850,000 Mary, Queen of Peace sub-health centre at Lae’s Back Road area over the weekend. Fr Arnold said health accessibility in some parts of industrial city of Lae is lacking and the Catholic Church has stepped in to provide the health facility, equipment, medical supplies and workforce. “We are ready to open our doors to patients with four nursing officers, a cleaner and receptionist. “Two of the nurses are on the National Department of Health payroll while the other two nursing officers will be paid by the Catholic Health Services temporary while waiting for the government to take over,” Fr Schmitt explained. He said the challenge of expanding clinical services provided at the hospital will depend on government intervention with funding for additional manpower and health programs and activities roll-out.nFr Arnold said the services that will be provided is diagnosing patients and prescribing treatments but for blood testing of malaria, tuberculosis, sexual transmitted diseases and other testing services will be referred to other medical centers.

“This sub-health centre was promised K400,000 by the government but that commitment never comes in so we now don’t want that money because the sub-health centre is completed.

“We now request for more positions created for our health workers under the church partnership program so more services can be offered at the hospital,” Fr Arnold added.


Hospital to specialise in cancer, MDRT, orthopedics

March 23, 2017 The National

CANCER patients can now seek treatment at the Sir Joseph Nombri Memorial Kundiawa General Hospital in Chimbu. This follows the announcement this week by the Minister for Health and HIV/AIDS Michael Malabag on the hospital’s status being elevated from a level five hospital to a level six hospital. Malabag said that the level six hospital would be specialising in cancer, multi-drug resistant tuberculosis and orthopedics. He said he was impressed that the hospital has been quietly providing quality health care not only to the people of Chimbu but the Highlands region and other parts of the country for many years.
“I commend the board and management and the staff for providing quality health care to the people.” Hospital acting chief executive officer Dr Harry Poka said that the board of the hospital has already allocated funds to purchase an MRI and CT scan equipment.
Poka said that the staff was prepared to work in line with the Government to accomplish the vision and mission for the people of Chimbu and the country.


47,000 HIV infections in PNG concerns UN AIDS agency

24 March 2017

ACCORDING to the United Nations, the latest statistics in Papua New Guinea estimate that almost 47,000 people are infected with HIV in a country whose population is about eight million. UNAIDS’ country director Stuart Watson says that there’s been an increase of 10,000 of people with HIV in the past two years. “In 2015 we estimated that the prevalence in the population was 0.7%. Just last week we completed the most recent estimations and projections for the epidemic in Papua New Guinea and we’re now at 0.91%.

So contrary to the trends in many parts of the world, unfortunately in PNG, which has roughly 95% of the epidemic burden in the Pacific region, is trending in the wrong direction. So in PNG, those figures translate into just under 47,000 people living with HIV; roughly 3,000 new infections in the last year, of which nearly a quarter were children and youths. So it’s definitely not a good situation. In the past year we also estimate that roughly 1,500 people died unnecessarily from AIDS-related illnesses in the country.

We’ve had some near and complete stock-outs of anti-retroviral medicines, we’ve had a complete stock-out of rapid-testing kits, many other supplies and commodities in the health system, so it means we’re not able to test people. We’re not getting people on to treatment. Treatment is prevention.


Principles of Family Law in Papua New Guinea: a reflective review

By Michelle Nayahamui Rooney on March 3, 2017

First published by the University of PNG Press in 1985 with a second edition published in 1994, this book remains important foundational reading for anyone interested in issues of social safety, and family and intimate partner violence in PNG. With new laws passed in recent years to address family violence (Family Protect Act 2013) and other family issues such as the rights of children (Lukautim Pikinini (Child) Act 2009 [amended in 2014]), this book also provides a baseline for understanding the historical and social context for the transformation of family law in PNG.

This is an important book that needs to be updated and complemented with further publications based on more recent developments in family law in PNG. This is important because of the persistence of gender inequality and violence against women, and the pace of social change occurring in PNG. Furthermore, given that new laws have been introduced, a new publication should emulate the approach of this book to present a nuanced discussion of the outcomes, unintended consequences and inconsistencies in new legislation. For example, two questions that arise include: How are recent laws like the Lukautim Pikinini (Child) Act and the Family Protection Act being implemented in the context of PNG? How will the pikinini courts (children’s courts) envisaged under the Lukautim Pikinini (Child) Act interface with the existing and prevalent village courts?

Another major positive development in PNG in recent years has been the establishment of services such as women’s refuge centres, case management centres and Family Sexual Violence Support Centres in police stations to support families and victims of violence. The experiences of these service providers are an important part of understanding how laws are implemented in PNG. For example, how do local customs determine the provision of services and the outcomes for families, children, and victims of violence? What are the unintended outcomes for children, women, and families? How do these all overlap or come into conflict with the Customs Recognition Act? Without an analysis of concrete case studies these questions will be difficult to answer.

Owen Jessep and John Luluaki. 1994. Principles of Family Law in Papua New Guinea (2nd ed.) Port Moresby: University of Papua New Guinea Press.

Michelle Rooney is a Research Fellow at the Development Policy Centre.

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