SYDNEY NAM | The Borgen Project | Edited extracts
SEATTLE - While Papua New Guinea has enjoyed the benefits of economic improvement due to extractive industries, more than 40% of its population of more than seven million live in poverty.
The state of human rights in PNG is severely lacking and includes government corruption, abuse of female rights, inhumane conditions for asylum seekers, police brutality, lack of minority rights and prosecution for sexual orientation and gender identity,.
Police abuse is rampant. Between 2007 and 2014, a total of 1,600 complaints regarding police brutality were logged by the internal affairs directorate. The government has yet to release how many of these cases resulted in judicial proceedings.
Since 2014, the anti-corruption directorate has held a warrant for the arrest of prime minister O’Neill, but a court order still prevents the police from arresting him. As a result, in June 2016, police shot at University of Papua New Guinea students for peacefully protesting government corruption. Over 30 people were injured.
The United Nations has not overlooked such violations of human rights. In May 2016, the United Nations Human Rights Council released a 687-page report critical of PNG’s government and its authoritarian actions.
Police aggression and abuse have also been highly gendered, with PNG remaining one of the worst countries in the world for its rates of family and sexual violence. The normalisation of these actions has prevented aggressive prosecution of perpetrators or prosecution of these men by police.
The government has failed to rally legislative or judicial action against gender-based corruption and coercion. Violent groups of people have attacked individuals for alleged acts of witchcraft. The severe violation of human rights in PNG requires serious action but proves difficult because of cultural complexities.
Undoubtedly, there is no simple solution to changing dysfunctional cultural and national norms. The approach towards fighting against governmental corruption and gender-based violence, among many other human rights issues, requires national and community-level strategies.