Papua New Guinea
Responding to the killing by Papua New Guinea security forces of 17 prisoners who escaped Buimo jail as part of a mass breakout, Amnesty International’s Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, Champa Patel, said:
“The Papua New Guinea authorities must immediately order an independent and effective investigation into these killings. They must suspend any officers involved until the investigation is concluded, and hold suspected perpetrators to account through fair trials without recourse to the death penalty. It is alarming that the security forces’ first response was to use lethal force against unarmed people without any concern for their right to life.
“Poor sanitary conditions, overcrowding, and long remand periods have sparked mass breakouts before. Prison reforms and accountability mechanisms are crucial to stop these incidents from happening again. Whatever the crime committed by inmates, they have the right to be treated humanely.”
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The shooting of students peacefully protesting in Port Moresby, the capital of Papua New Guinea, is a disgraceful attack on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and expression, Amnesty International said today.
The organisation has received information that there are 38 people injured, including four in critical condition. Three people are still being assessed in emergency.
“The shooting of students peacefully protesting is reminiscent of the worst excesses of repressive regimes in the region,” said Rafendi Djamin, Amnesty International’s Director for South East Asia and the Pacific.
“Papua New Guinea’s authorities must establish a prompt, impartial and independent investigation to determine who is responsible for the unnecessary and excessive use of force.”
The Papua New Guinea police opened fire today on a group of students at Papua New Guinea University who were peacefully protesting against the alleged corruption of Prime Minister Peter O’Neill.
Several eye-witnesses have come forward to say they saw students beaten and shot at, including one case where a student was shot in the head.
Authorities in Papua New Guinea must urgently step up protection for two women accused of “sorcery” whose lives are at imminent risk, Amnesty International said after a mob threatened them and hacked another woman to death last week.
On 26 May 2015 a group of men in a remote part of Enga province killed a woman identified only by the name Misila, after she had been accused of “sorcery”. The same group targeted two other women during the attack – they were assaulted and briefly held captive in a hut, but released after other villagers heard their screams.
The three women have been threatened since at least the beginning of the year. In January, local police intervened after the three women and their children received death threats and were accused of using “sorcery”. The police convinced members of the community to withdraw the accusations, but this failed to stop last week’s attack.
"I didn't steal gold and I didn't do anything wrong. Why are they burning my house?"
By Tara Scurr
Business & Human Rights Campaigner, Amnesty International
On June 6, during an early morning raid, state police forces burned more than 200 homes and structures to the ground in the village of Wingima. The homes, located near the Porgera gold mine in central Papua New Guinea, belong mostly to mine workers and artisanal miners and their families. The mine is majority-owned and operated by Canadian mining giant Barrick Gold Corporation.
"I didn't steal gold and I didn't do anything wrong. Why are they burning my house?"
Police officers in Papua New Guinea (PNG) who are responsible for burning more than 200 homes to the ground close to a gold mine must be investigated and those found responsible for human rights violations prosecuted, said Amnesty International.
The homes were set ablaze during an early morning raid on Friday 6 June in Wingima village, close to Porgera gold mine in central PNG, according to community leaders.
The mine is majority-owned and operated by Canadian mining giant Barrick Gold Corporation.
“These illegal and dangerous actions endangered lives and have left scores of families homeless,” said Kate Schuetze, Pacific Researcher at Amnesty International.
“Destroying people’s homes and livelihoods in this way violates international laws against forced evictions. All those responsible must be prosecuted. Any response to illegal mining or other unlawful activities must be proportionate and meet international standards. Setting ablaze a village is a blatantly excessive response.”
The Papua New Guinea authorities must carry out an independent investigation into alleged brutality by a police dog squad, after a graphic video depicted a seemingly defenceless man being repeatedly attacked, said Amnesty International.
In the film, which has been shared on social media, the man is seen sitting on the ground, surrounded by officers holding three leashed dogs as they lunge and attack him.
While the footage has not yet been verified, it raises serious concerns about torture and other ill-treatment by police.
“This appalling incident raises serious questions about police brutality,” said Roseann Rife, spokesperson for Amnesty International.
“The Papua New Guinea authorities must act on this shocking footage and immediately initiate an independent investigation. Torture is unacceptable under any circumstances and those responsible must be brought to justice.
“The seriousness of this incident is highlighted by this man’s humiliation and his screams of pain. It is difficult to watch.”
Papua New Guinea’s new laws expanding the use of the death penalty to a wider set of crimes, and signalling a move towards resuming executions, are a horrific and regressive step, Amnesty International said today.
The legislation was reportedly adopted by Parliament with little debate, during the same session that repealed the country’s controversial Sorcery Act which provided a defence for violent crime if the accused was acting to stop ‘witchcraft’.
The death penalty now appears to apply to a longer list of crimes, including sorcery-related murder, rape and robbery, and provides for new methods of execution, including by lethal injection, hanging, electrocution, firing squad, and “medical death by deprivation of oxygen”.
“Papua New Guinea has taken one step forward in protecting women from violence by repealing the Sorcery Act, but several giant steps back by moving closer to executions,” said Isabelle Arradon, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Asia-Pacific.
Police in Papua New Guinea are not doing enough to ensure the release of a seriously injured woman currently detained by a group that accuses her of practising “sorcery”, Amnesty International said on Wednesday.
The woman and her two daughters have been held captive in Lopele in Bana District, Southern Bougainville since early last week.
The woman has critical injuries with a severe laceration to her neck after being attacked, according to information Amnesty International has received. Another three women have been prevented from leaving the district to seek essential medical care after locals set up road blocks.
The police response so far has involved a sole officer being sent to Lopele to negotiate the release of these six women. Last week, in a related incident a woman was beheaded after she was also accused of “sorcery”.
"The response of the police to this and other appalling similar incidents in Bougainville and Papua New Guinea has so far been seriously inadequate," said Kate Schuetze, Amnesty International Pacific Researcher.
Authorities in Papua New Guinea must take urgent action to prevent and punish ‘sorcery’-related violence, following reports six women and a man were abducted and subjected to acts of appalling cruelty by a group who accused them of witchcraft.
Komape Lap from the Southern Highlands claims he and six women had their hands tied, were stripped naked and had hot iron rods pushed into their genitals. Komape Lap escaped but the fate of the six women is unknown.
The attack is reported to have taken place on 28 March in an Easter ‘witch-hunt’, according to local media. The police have confirmed they are investigating the incident.
“The priority must be to find out the fate of the six women. The perpetrators must also be brought to justice for the abduction and crimes of sexual and other violence, if confirmed”, said Kate Schuetze, Amnesty International's Pacific researcher.
"The government must take urgent action to prevent any further ‘sorcery’-related violence and must also provide the survivors with support and full access to health and other services” said Kate Schuetze.
Authorities in Papua New Guinea (PNG) must take urgent action to prevent 'sorcery'-related killings, Amnesty International said after the brutal murder of a woman accused of using witchcraft to kill a young boy.
Twenty-year-old Kepari Leniata was stripped, tied up, doused in petrol and burned alive by relatives of the dead boy in the city of Mount Hagen, local media reported.
"Those responsible for the shocking torture and killing of this woman must be brought to justice," said Kate Schuetze, Amnesty International's Pacific researcher.
"But there is far more to be done to tackle this endemic problem in Papua New Guinea, where 'sorcery' is still considered a criminal offence."
There have been several reports in recent years of people accused of 'sorcery', in most cases women, being murdered.
In July 2012, police reportedly arrested 29 members of a witch-hunting gang who were allegedly murdering and cannibalizing people they suspected of 'sorcery'.