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.
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.Top of page
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.
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.Top of page
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.
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.