UPR of Papua New Guinea: deep-rooted societal norms fuel discrimination against women, minorities
Friday, 13 May 2011 14:19


On 11 May 2011, the UPR Working Group examined the human rights situation in Papua New Guinea. The small delegation was headed by Mr Robert G. Aisi (Permanent Representative to the UN, New York) who addressed all the comments and questions raised during the review. The report was submitted later than expected, an issue commented on by several States.


In his opening statement, Mr Aisi mentioned the progress made and the challenges faced by the State regarding the protection and promotion of human rights. A large number of the points made during this initial statement were also highlighted by the majority of the States, including concerns over the persistence of norms, deep-rooted (negative) perceptions and practices leading to widespread discrimination against women in all spheres of life; domestic violence; excessive use of force by the police and law enforcement personnel; conditions in prisons and detention centres ; and the high illiteracy rate.


States made the following comments and recommendations:

  • Consider ratifying the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and its Optional Protocol, and the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.
  • Consider ratifying the Optional Protocol of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW); to fully incorporate CEDAW into the domestic legal system, and to issue an invitation to visit to the UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women.
  • Amend national legislation in order to explicitly include gender and sexual orientation as a prohibited ground of discrimination.
  • Increase human rights awareness amongst community leaders and to ensure that the decisions made by village courts, particularly regarding the fight against discrimination, adhere to international law.
  • Modify current legislation to penalise the sale and trafficking of both girls and boys, since the current penal code only provides protection from trafficking and sexual exploitation for girls.
  • While commending the de facto moratorium on the death penalty, many States called upon Papua New Guinea to abolish capital punishment in law.
  • De-criminalise sexual acts between consenting adults of same sex.
  • Referring to the recommendations made by the UN Special Rapporteur on torture, many States voiced concern over the excessive use of force and systematic torture by the police, particularly in the case of detainees and prostitutes, and urged the State examined to bring the definition of 'torture' in line with international standards and to ensure that all complaints of violence are investigated and that perpetrators are brought to justice.
  • Improve conditions in prisons and detention centres, and raise awareness about the 'Bangkok Rules' with regards to the treatment of female detainees particularly those with HIV/AIDS.
  • Provide human rights education and training for police staff and continue public awareness-raising on human rights, particularly those of women and girls.
  • Take additional and more efficient measures to combat 'sorcery-related' crimes, particularly against older women, and to investigate all allegations and reports in this regard.
  • Tackle the low percentage of registration at birth through awareness-raising and other appropriate measures.
  • Combat corporal punishment at school and all other situations.
  • Take additional measures to combat the severe problem of domestic violence, including adopting a comprehensive legal framework.
  • Continue its efforts to provide universal and free primary education.
  • Establish a national human rights institution in accordance with the Paris Principles. States expressed concern at the limitations on the current ombudsman's independence.
  • Seek technical cooperation and assistance in combating poverty, tackling the consequences of climate change, and further promoting human rights.

During the dialogue, the head of the delegation responded quite openly and frankly to the comments and questions raised, acknowledging existing challenges and areas where further improvement is needed. In his final remarks, Mr Aisi stated that the UPR process has been a "learning process" that has helped the country better promote human rights as the basis for development. He further reaffirmed the intention to collaborate with civil society to follow-up on the recommendations. Papua New Guinea accepted 75 of the 146 recommendations made, rejected 2, and left 69 pending for further consideration before the 18th session of the Human Rights Council in September 2011.


For more information, including statements delivered and the report of the Working Group, see the OHCHR extranet (username: hrc extranet, password: 1session).  

Last Updated on Friday, 13 May 2011 15:13
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