Dr Lasslett is co-director of the International State Crime Initiative and lecturer in criminology at the University of Ulster.
He was commenting on Peter Kranz’s article in PNG Attitude yesterday which said that PNG may have been used “as a [metaphorical] 'training ground' for priestly child molesters, and sometimes a convenient 'dumping ground' for the Church to send accused priests".
Yesterday the Australian government also announced an extensive Royal Commission into institutional child abuse in Australia.
“A timely and important issue, well done Peter for raising it,” Dr Lasslett remarked, “though I suspect it will be particularly hard for victims to report their abuse, even now.”
“Evidence has sporadically come to light that the Catholic church was involved in forced removals of children in PNG, replicating a pattern elsewhere,” he said.
“I know in Ireland many victims went through hell trying to corroborate their claims, before a disbelieving audience, and an Irish government extremely reluctant to engage in a frontal offensive against the Church.
“Certainly places like Kenya, when a British colony, was used as a dumping ground of sorts for priests 'under a cloud of accusations', so there is precedent.”
“This is an important issue - but one to handle with care,” Dr Lasslett added.
In his article, Peter Kranz provided details on the “surprising number of already convicted paedophile priests [who had] a background of service in PNG
“This matter needs to be brought into the open as a public service to the people of PNG, and it needs to be investigated further as a protection for children and young people who may still well be at risk,” he said.
Child abuse is believed to be widespread in PNG. A 2006 study revealed that children as young as 11 years of age were being forced into prostitution and trafficked as child brides. It said children are also sexually abused in their own communities, raped and abused by persons in authority including police.