Papua New Guinea
Head of state
Queen Elizabeth II, represented by Governor General Michael Ogio
Head of government
Peter Charles Paire O’Neill (de facto since August 2011, elected in August 2012)

The government did little to address high rates of violence against women; sorcery-related killings remained common. Residents of informal settlements continued to live with the threat of arbitrary and violent eviction. Police accountability remained a serious concern, particularly in cases of forced eviction.

Background

A Supreme Court decision in May declared Peter O’Neill’s government, supported by the majority of Parliament in August 2011, illegal. The ruling called for former Prime Minister Michael Somare to be reinstated. Peter O’Neill failed to comply with the Supreme Court’s decision and two rival governments subsequently claimed to have control over the country. The Supreme Court judges who decided the case were arrested for treason, but these charges were later dropped. In August following elections, Prime Minister O’Neill formed a coalition government with former Prime Minister Somare.

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Violence against women and girls

Violence against women and girls remained widespread. Domestic violence was common, and a culture of silence and impunity prevailed. Assaults in police custody were frequently reported.

  • In June, a police officer from Port Moresby was found guilty of two counts of rape of a woman in custody.
  • In August, a young girl with a disability was burned to death in election-related violence in the highlands. Concerns were also raised that women in some areas were prevented from freely expressing their vote at the ballot box.

Following a visit to the country in March, the UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women declared such violence “a pervasive phenomenon in Papua New Guinea”, with incidents occurring at every level of society – “in the home, community and institutional settings”. She identified polygamy as one factor contributing to violence in the family, and called on government to meet its responsibilities to protect women from violence, including addressing traditional practices that are harmful to women.

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Sorcery-related killings

Reports of sorcery-related killings were common, with women generally more vulnerable to being targeted. The authorities did little to address the issue, with some exceptions.

  • In July, police arrested and charged eight women and 21 men with murdering and cannibalizing three women and four men in Madang province. The assailants had claimed the victims were sorcerers.
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Forced evictions

People continued to be forcibly evicted from informal settlements for development projects or as an expedient to reducing crime in the area. The authorities often resorted to violence to quell resistance.

  • In May, armed police officers carried out a forced eviction at Paga Hill, one of Port Moresby’s oldest settlements. A court injunction stopped the eviction after some homes had been demolished. Opposition leader, Dame Carol Kidu, was assaulted by police officers for opposing the forced evictions and weapons were fired to disperse a crowd.
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