Manam issue goes global

National, Normal

The National- Wednesday, January 12, 2011


THE Manam Island issue is going global and Papua New Guinea authorities will be questioned about the ill-treatment of the islanders by the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights in Geneva, Switzerland, in May.

A human rights activist was in PNG last November and visited the island.

A well-placed government source told The National that PNG authorities, including the Department of National Planning, would have a lot of explaining as to why they did not fund the Manam resettlement exercise for 2011.

“The Manam people will be left to fend for themselves again for the seventh year in 2011 because the government cannot make a firm commitment as to what its decision-making body, national executive council, wants and what its medium-term development plan (MTDP) under the Department of National Planning supports,” the source said.

“All that seem to be happening more frequently is that the public service tends to play more politics where some key government bodies and agencies appear to work in total isolation of the rest of the government. 

“This only brings about more confusion, contradiction and now a self-convincing state that the MTDP is the solution to a more policy-driven budget.”  

PNG is due to report to the human rights council in Geneva in May.

This universal periodic review session is a regular, every four to five year exercise for all countries where authorities report on and respond to questions on progress regarding treaty ratification, implementation and the protection of human rights in general.

It is understood that the most important human rights findings from the recent Manam Island mission would be sent to Geneva to be put on official record and then put to the PNG authorities at the session

“We can also raise forced eviction, health, security issues etc,” according to the activist.

“That would be excellent exposure of the plight of the islanders, and serve to put high level pressure on the authorities to explain what they are doing and to act to resolve the resettlement issue.

“ In addition to the 2011 session in Geneva, such a report would usually lead to the special procedures unit of the Human Rights Commission contacting the PNG authorities in writing and presenting the info received from us, and request a response and additional info from the government.”

The source said it was also in line with the need “to bring Manam higher on the national and international agenda”.