AGENCY REPORTER | The Nation (Nigeria)
NAIROBI – During a visit to Papua New Guinea, a top United Nations’ official has slammed the government’s human rights record, including the situation of refugees on Manus Island.
Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, met with PNG leader Peter O’Neill and other top officials during his one-day visit on Friday.
Hussein called on the government to take firm measures to combat corruption, build good governance and strengthen the rule of law.
“Papua New Guinea appears to be a country of contradictions.
“Despite exemplary laws and policies to protect human rights, they are reportedly often not enforced,’’ Hussein said in a statement.
He raised concerns about the plight of the Manus Island asylum seekers and refugees, and asked the government to identify lasting solutions, which would respect their human rights.
Hussein said in spite of being a resource-rich country, “much of its population lives in abject poverty, with acute malnutrition rates and minimal access to quality healthcare and education.”
He slammed the government saying it was “unacceptable” that the mining companies were granted licences to extract resources without the free and informed consent of local communities.
“The reported actions of some major corporations engaged in the extractive industries in Papua New Guinea are shameful.
“Many communities have been forcibly evicted from their homes, often reportedly violently, with impunity and allegedly sometimes with the complicity of local police,’’ he said.
Hussein said since PNG will be “in the spotlight” as it prepares to host the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit, scheduled for November.