Papua New Guinea
Head of state
Queen Elizabeth II represented by Paulias Matane
Head of government
Sam Abal (replaced Michael Somare in December)
Death penalty
abolitionist in practice
6.9 million
Life expectancy
61.6 years
Under-5 mortality (m/f)
70/68 per 1,000
Adult literacy
59.6 per cent

Violence against women and sorcery-related killings continued to be widespread but the government did little to address them. Torture and ill-treatment of detainees and prisoners were prevalent. Police often beat detainees with gun butts and knives, and raped or sexually abused women detainees.

Violence against women and girls

Violence against women continued to be widespread, perpetuated by women’s low status in society and traditional practices such as polygamy and bride price. A culture of silence and impunity prevailed, and women remained fearful of reporting sexual and physical violence to the authorities.

In April, a clinic in Lae reported that it received between 200 and 300 new patients a month, most of them women who had been raped, beaten or attacked with knives.

In May, the UN Special Rapporteur on torture visited the country and found that women were at a very high risk of abuse in the private and public spheres. During arrest and detention, police officers tortured and ill-treated women, subjecting them to sexual abuse – it appeared that police frequently arrested women for minor offences with the intention of sexually attacking them. Police punished women detainees by placing them, or threatening to place them, in cells with male detainees, where many were gang-raped.

In July, while reviewing Papua New Guinea’s CEDAW obligations, the CEDAW Committee expressed its deep concern at the persistence of sexual violence at domestic and community levels and at the lack of data on its nature, extent and causes. A government representative promised the Committee that the government would legislate against domestic violence.

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Sorcery-related killings

  • In September in the Western Highlands, a mother of four was tied up, interrogated, tortured and then burnt alive after being accused of being a witch. Her husband and children escaped to live with relatives, fearing to return to their family home.
  • In October in Chimbu Province, four people accused of witchcraft, including an elderly couple, were tortured and thrown into a fast-flowing river.
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Torture and other ill-treatment

In February, police refused to investigate allegations that members of the police mobile squad had beaten and forcibly evicted people living near the Porgera mine area in 2009.

In May, the UN Special Rapporteur on torture found that torture and other ill-treatment were widespread in prisons and police stations. Detainees who tried to escape were often brutally beaten with bush knives and gun butts; some were shot at close range, or had their tendons cut with axes and bush knives. Police often punished detainees by beating them, and many juveniles were held with adult prisoners.

  • In September in the Northern Province, a policeman who apprehended a robbery suspect shot him in the leg and left him to bleed until another policeman helped the man to hospital.
  • In October, a policeman who had been drinking alcohol killed a 15-year-old boy being held in a police cell by opening fire at him at point-blank range.
  • In November, prison wardens shot dead five prisoners trying to escape from jail. Another five prisoners were wounded during the shooting.
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