PNG among oppressed island nations

National, Normal

The National, Tuesday, May 17, 2011

AS the world’s attention focuses on the human rights revolution sweeping across the Middle East and North Africa, Amnesty International’s (AI) latest report reveals Pacific people, including Papua New Guineans, are facing the same struggle against oppression, tyranny and corruption.
On the eve of its 50th anniversary, AI last week launched its annual assessment of human rights worldwide, Amnesty International Report 2011: State of the World’s Human Rights, which documents abuses in 157 countries last year.
“People from both the Pacific and the Middle East are rejecting the notion that they have to choose between rights or development – they want to live free from fear and free from want,” Holmes said in a statement posted on the AI website.
It called on Pacific governments to do more to meet the legitimate aspirations of their people, and to deliver a degree of accountability and transparency.
A section dedicated to PNG noted that violence against women and sorcery-related killings continued to be widespread but the government had done 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,” AI reported.
It said that 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.”
AI took note of the recent visit by the UN Special Rapporteur on torture who 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.
Last July, while reviewing PNG’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”.