Under Marape, rights getting worse - report
16 January 2020
| Radio New Zealand
AUCKLAND - A human rights organisation has released a damning report into the state of Papua New Guinea, where a change of prime minister has done little to tackle rampant violence and corruption.
Human Rights Watch's annual report reveals rates of violence, domestic abuse, corruption and foreign debt haven't improved over the past year, where weak enforcement and a lack of accountability fostered a culture of impunity and lawlessness.
Its deputy director for Asia, Phil Robertson, said despite a change in prime minister, progress was still slow and the key findings were dire.
"We are talking about a very desperately poor country. One where there is a lot of violence that's committed with impunity ... where women are particularly affected, as well as children.
"Forty percent of the population still lives in poverty, and this is a very resource-rich country. Twenty five percent of the children are not in school, and our estimate is that one in 13 have died of preventable disease."
The report found more than two-thirds of women and girls were subjected to domestic violence, while 75 percent of children surveyed across 30 communities experienced violence at home.
"PNG has an underfunded health system and children are particularly vulnerable to disease. An estimated one in thirteen children die each year from preventable diseases, and large numbers of children experienced malnutrition resulting in stunted growth," it said.
There was little chance of redressing it with the culture of corruption and impunity that had been fostered, the report said, with corruption convictions rare and prosecutions for brutality at the hands of the state and military few and far between.
To date, no police officers had been prosecuted for killing 17 prison escapees in 2017 and four prison escapees from Buimo prison in Lae in 2018, the report noted. Police officers who killed [this is incorrect, the protesters were wounded not killed - KJ] eight student protesters in Port Moresby in 2016 had also not been held accountable.
A new prime minister, James Marape, had done little so far to rein in corruption, it said, and the unequal distribution of the revenue from the country's natural resources was creating friction and eroding land rights in rural areas. In multiple cases, landowners had been mistreated by foreign mining companies, it said.
Robertson said PNG had not really worked to dig itself out the hole it was in, and it was only getting worse.
a follow up story, with views from Deputy PM and Justice Minister Davis Steven, the Police Fraud Directorate's head Matthew Damaru and Police Chief David Manning:
Posted by: Johnny Blades | 22 January 2020 at 06:12 AM
PNG is a problem country with all sorts of problems. It is frightening that PNG is rated 133 out of 138 countries in the UN’s gender index where violence against women and children is much more worse.
Corruption is increasing to an extreme where we will face anarchy and social cohesion sooner or later.
James Marape and successive prime-ministers can be blamed but partly its not their doing. All of us are involved in corruption in one way or another.
At the next election vote in good and honest leaders because it's the political component that needs to be changed first.
When we have 111 moralists in parliament making good policies and making sure they are rightly implemented with the right people, the country will improve.
Posted by: Philip Kai Morre | 16 January 2020 at 08:21 PM
I have to chime in here and explain that this article about the NGO's report was put together by someone from the domestic news section at Radio NZ.
I discovered it today after returning from being on leave and I've been scratching my head in frustration, because normally in RNZ Pacific we would add context to HRW's claims - in this case I think it would be prudent to allow the fact that the Marape government has only been in power for seven months, that change takes times, and to give it benefit of the doubt on some areas it says it is making efforts in to strengthen the law and justice sector.
It should also be noted that since the reconfiguration of govt, the leadership of the police force has changed, and there have been some high profile arrests linked to alleged corruption cases, including of the Electoral Commissioner and the Secretary of Education.
It seems a little wayward to conclude that nothing has been done to tackle corruption and problems in the police force.
This is not to dispute the seriousness of the problems of corruption or police abuses in PNG, or the complexities holding back action on fighting the problems.
There are a number of errors in this article, (as KJ noted the protesters in Port Moresby in 2016 were not killed) but also in the Phil Robertson interview it was associated with.
I intend to do a follow-up story with more balance, for RNZ Pacific.
Posted by: Johnny Blades | 16 January 2020 at 07:15 PM
Many good people have high expectations for PM Marape and his ministers. They are genuinely sick of the lies, deceit, empty promises and corruption of so many PNG entities and players and the PM has offered a glimmer of hope that PNG can work toward changing those ingrained attributes.
This article is somewhat premature in my estimation, however it does serve to place the Marape/Steven government on notice that people are watching their performance.
The way they put the Maserati fiasco to bed was a very ominous sign that these knights' suits of armour are not entirely gleaming.
Posted by: Ian Ritchie | 16 January 2020 at 05:10 PM
Sadly, this is about the reality that confronts humanity in so many of its forms of governance.
Take a look at an example that just conveniently makes news today, from that regime known as the People's Republic of China.
The news report tells of a person who not only secretly stored banknotes to which he was not entitled, but then also was misleading others. “The apartment, in China's capital Beijing, was given the nickname "the supermarket" by Mr Lai when talking to people, in a bid to try and hide it from investigating authorities.”
Oh, and about misleading people. Here in Queensland we had a likeable and hardworking politician who loved his pass-time sport of fishing. He owned a boat and named it "Electorate". As a joke, he could and would say to folk that he was out in his Electorate. That joke is humorous.
Not so was a level of corruption here in Queensland where it came to be revealed in “the Commission of Inquiry into Possible Illegal Activities and Associated Police Misconduct into Queensland Police corruption”. Within that series of events was a code word that was used by police outlaws. The word was “the joke”.
PNG politicians might now grin but also must “bare it” and bear it.
Posted by: Lindsay F Bond | 16 January 2020 at 05:07 PM
I don't even believe this article! It is all negative comments and a clear indication of someone behind the scenes playing useless politics. We PNGeans are human beings and are subject to change and be agents of behavioural change. Who are you to put forward your biased findings in this useless, baseless, rubbish report. I suggest this article be removed.
Human Rights Watch is a reputable global NGO dedicated to protecting and advancing people's human rights. You are entitled to your view that Human Rights Watch has got things wrong but the article will not be removed - KJ
Posted by: Gideon Endo | 16 January 2020 at 02:53 PM
"Police officers who killed eight student protesters in Port Moresby in 2016 had also not been held accountable."
Give the man time. He's only been there for a short time.
Human Rights Watch got it wrong; the protesters were shot and wounded but not killed - KJ
Posted by: Philip Fitzpatrick | 16 January 2020 at 08:43 AM
Beyond belief, beyond relief? Whos'at thief?
Hurt is of wrong. Need is now strong.
Swift response was earlier expected for thieving at food gardens.
Posted by: Lindsay F Bond | 16 January 2020 at 08:37 AM