Monthly Archives: August 2017

UNHCR Condemns Move On Refugees

The Australian Government’s announced change in legal status and withdrawal of support to refugees and asylum-seekers is a blatant attempt to coerce the most vulnerable to return to Papua New Guinea, Nauru, or their countries of origin.

This is according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Regional Representation in Canberra.

Removing accommodation and financial support leaves people at serious risk of destitution in Australia. Equally, the withdrawal of access to basic services such as trauma and torture counselling will exacerbate their already precarious situation. About 400 refugees and asylum-seekers remain in community detention in Australia, having been transferred from Papua New Guinea and Nauru due to both serious medical and protection concerns. The Government of Australia has implicitly recognised through these transfers that the conditions there are unacceptable.

The Government has not granted these refugees and asylum-seekers the right to work. Most were brought to Australia with acute medical needs. To claim abruptly that these same people should immediately support themselves financially is unfair and unreasonable.

Papua New Guinea and Nauru remain unsuitable as places of settlement for refugees and asylum-seekers sent there by Australia. UNHCR has consistently reported the impossibility of local integration on even a temporary basis for the vast majority of refugees and asylum-seekers, along with concerns for their physical security. Medical experts have repeatedly confirmed the urgent need for medical and psychological services which are unavailable in Papua New Guinea and Nauru.

The majority of asylum-seekers transferred from Papua New Guinea and Nauru to Australia have still not had their claims for international protection determined after more than four years. Until their asylum claims are finalised, they should not be returned to their countries of origin. Going home is not an option for those who have a fear of serious harm and persecution.

As a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention, Australia remains responsible for those who have sought its protection. This includes a duty to consider claims for international protection fairly and efficiently, and to provide refugees and asylum-seekers with a minimum standard of living which is humane and dignified.

Those who have suffered most under inhumane conditions in Papua New Guinea and Nauru need care and compassion. Refugees and asylum-seekers who have been transferred to Australia, like all refugees and asylum-seekers, should be provided with adequate support and a much-needed long term solution outside of Papua New Guinea and Nauru.

Committee To Address SABL

The National Author

LANDS and Physical Planning Minister Justin Tkatchenko has announced a Customary Land Advisory Committee to deal with Special Agriculture Business Leases (SABL) once and for all.
Tkatchenko said SABL was a long outstanding issue and one that was advertised all around the world.
He said the committee was a National Executive Council decision.
“It is a NEC decision that was handed down under the previous minister and I am now implementing it because I see it as one of the most important things of the department that needs to be rectified immediately,” he said.
“SABL has been a major issue for our people of PNG, especially our customary landowners, and has been causing our people to go to court to protect their rights to their land.”
The committee will hold a weekly meeting to get issues resolved.
The advisory committee will assess all SABLs to ensure the legitimate existing leases are secured, Tkatchenko said.
He said there were 175 SABLs that were recommended by a commission of inquiry and about 400 smaller ones issued to small stakeholders.
“At the end of the day, it’s all those ones that have caused controversy would be assessed to see if they would be cancelled or not,” Tkatchenko said.
“This is the tip of the iceberg. It’s just the start and there are a lot of things that are outstanding on customary land.”
He said the committee would look into the findings of the commission of inquiry and will finalise the findings and assessing them and making sure that they find a solution.
No more SABLs are being issued.
“Those that are illegal will be cancelled and those that are genuine will continue,” the minister said.
“We will review every single one (SABL). We don’t want to scare off investors that are doing the right thing by the landowners.”

Westpac PNG Wins Award

By: Cedric Patjole


Westpac PNG has been announced a joint winner of the 2017 Rueben James Summerlin (RJS) Innovation Award.

The bank was announced a joint winner by the Pacific Financial Inclusion Programme (PFIP) following recognition of its ‘innovation hub in the Highlands Region’ of PNG.

Westpac PNG along with the Solomon Islands National Provident Fund (SINPF) SINPF were both awarded the RJS honor.

The RJS Innovative Award, which is in its second year, is bestowed upon a PFIP financial service provider that has made the greatest contribution to financial inclusion in the Pacific for that year.

Westpac PNG was recognized for its Highlands Innovation Hub, which is set up to design, test and validate a commercially scalable model from providing financial services to low-income populations such as women and small holder farms.

PFIP Technical Specialist, Jagdeep Dahiya, said the project inspired locals in the Highlands region to use services to manage and improve their daily financial lives.

“The design approach being used has already successfully revamped Westpac PNG’s entire customer on-boarding experience, with a human centered design approach, to development of the Choice Wantok product, and merchant network providing accessibility.

“The Innovation hub is also considering future product development to meet the needs of clients, such as short term credit and money transfer services via a mobile banking platform,” he said.

Meanwhile the SINPF was awarded one of the RJS award based on their structured approach to developing a micro pension product for voluntary contributors to the national superannuation fund.

The PFIP says this product has the potential for extensive scale-up to serve the self employed sector.

Oil Search’s Efforts Recognised Internationally

Post Courier Author

Oil Search’s efforts to contribute to sustainable development in Papua New Guinea has gained international recognition and endorsement by the United Nations Development Program(UNDP).
A case study on how the company is supporting female-led entrepreneurship in PNG is featured in a joint publication by the UNDP, International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the global oil and gas industry association for environmental and social issues (IPIECA), focused on mapping the oil and gas industry to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Launched in New York recently, the report recognises the importance of the oil and gas industry to the global economy and the significant impact the industry can have on many national economies, including in developing and emerging countries.
It also acknowledges that the industry can be central to sustainable development, as oil and gas are key pillars in the local and global energy system and, as such, are drivers of economic and social development.
Oil Search was recognised as one company delivering on Goal Five of the SDGs, which focuses on gender equality and the end of all forms of discrimination and violence against women.
“Local communities, particularly women in local communities, near Oil Search’s project in Papua New Guinea needed additional sustainable livelihoods and means of financial freedom. “The company partnered with women in communities around its facilities to support them.

New PNG Lands Minister Promises Top To Bottom Cleanout

Papua New Guinea’s new Lands Minister says it’s his mission to clean up the entrenched corruption in the Lands Department.

Justin Tkatchenko says he’s formulating a five year plan to weed out a network of corrupt officials who facilitate crooked land deals that alienate Papua New Guineans from their land.

Appointed as Lands & Physical Minister this month in Peter O’Neill’s new-look government, Mr Tkatchenko warns that he may make himself unpopular with some department staff.

He spoke to Johnny Blades about taking on the job.



JUSTIN TKATCHENKO:  Yeah it is a major responsibility and it has huge problems that need rectifying immediately and for the long term. And I have faced in my own electorate in Moresby South issues and problems with the lands department with land grabbing and stealing and all this sort of stuff protecting public places and all the rest. So I understand the problems we have that need to be rectified.

JOHNNY BLADES: How is it there are these problems through the lands department and with the way the land is used.

JT: I think this has accumulated for many many years. And land is a scarce commodity in our country especially in our city areas our urban areas we are finding selfish greedy individuals are bribing and corrupting land department officials to get portions and allotments of land that they are not entitled to and stealing public places. Land is a quick way of making money. And through the lands board we have had great difficulty where the land has been given away to foreigners and to Papua New Guineans and then not applied for and what they wanted to do on that land has not been implemented and they have just utilised that land got the land and sold it and made money. So there’s rorts in the system everybody clearly has the perception that the lands department is totally corrupt. So it is my job to change that perception and that is going to be a massive task so we are introducing some key sectors here and one of them is the setting up of the fraud and complaints unit with the department of personnel management inside the lands department. Where any person or public can go and register their complaints on land deals and the staff within the lands department. That really hasn’t been done and we are putting in four staff dedicated from the personnel management area. HR and as well as two lawyers to go through all the complaints all the fraud. Look at all of those who have been suspended and reinstated or terminated and reinstated and just clean up the department from top to bottom. Now I am not going to be the most popular person here I am probably going to be the most hated minister after I do it. But at the end of the day it is needed. So the public places, recreational facilities land our people’s customary land is finally given back to the rightful owners and for the right usages.

JB: I was going to ask you about the SABLs ?

JT: That I will be making a press conference on that in the next couple of days and with that the NEC has issued for a high powered committee to be set up to review and to cancel all SABLs that are not adhering to what they are set out for them to do. For example how can you have an agricultural lease here in Port Moresby in a residential area? It doesn’t make sense. So there are a lot of SABLs that are totally not doing the purpose that they are supposed to be doing in respect to agriculture and other things like that. There are some SABLs that have worked very very well in the country. And the people have done the right thing when they have applied for it. So these need to be sorted out.

JB: I guess you have been, you will be well aware of some of the complaints from some of the landowner advocates or that the statement about the cancellation of the ones that have been fraudulently obtained which according to that report back in 2013 was the majority of them. But they still hadn’t been cancelled and I think the forestry minister had indicated that they would probably be converted to customary leases which just sounds like another name for something that is still bad. So what can you do about that?

JT: So what has happened is that within the department and the state solicitor is involved with this as well and the provincial affairs office. We there has been a high power committee set up to go over the reports especially that was given to us by the two commissioners and from there we will then issue the SABLs will be either cancelled or continued on terms and conditions that I would say ninety percent of them will be reviewed of being cancelled. No other SABLs given the direction are to be issued at all from our department. That is now stopped and cancelled and we have to rectify all these ones that are currently causing problems for our people as we speak. So this is going to take time and I will personally get involved to ensure that there is no side deals and the complaints are taken seriously and legitimately and we will work with the department of forestry and the agriculture department on the ones that are working well, those that are not will be cancelled.



Source: Radio NZL

Australia’s Immigration Chief Defends Cutting Support for Some Asylum Seekers


SYDNEY, Australia — Australia’s immigration minister, Peter Dutton, has defended a move to cut off financial and housing support to up to 100 asylum seekers brought from its offshore camps for medical treatment, reigniting debate over the country’s detention policy.

In a radio interview on Monday, Mr. Dutton accused asylum seekers of using medical transfers to manipulate the system and as a way to escape detention on Australia’s offshore camps on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea and on the island nation of Nauru.

“I think people believe in a fair go, but this is ripping the system off,” he said in an interview with the conservative radio host Alan Jones. “We’ve given notice to almost 60 of them to say that the game is up and we aren’t going to provide you with the housing — the welfare will stop,” Mr. Dutton said, referring to asylum seekers.

News of the changes was first reported on Sunday by The Age, which said that under new visa conditions, up to 100 asylum seekers brought to Australia for medical treatment would, as of Monday, no longer receive financial support of about 400 Australian dollars, or about $315, a month. The asylum seekers would also have three weeks to leave government-supported housing and find new places to live.

“You will be expected to support yourself in the community until departing Australia,” said a letter by the Immigration Department that was leaked to The Age.

Mr. Dutton defended the tough new measures during his interview on Monday, saying that asylum seekers who sought legal help to remain in Australia after receiving medical treatment were taking unfair advantage of the system. “The medical assistance has been provided and there is no need for them to remain in Australia and yet, through these legal moves, they’ve found themselves a way,” he said.

Up to 400 asylum seekers and their children living in Australia on medical transfers could be affected under the new visa, according the The Age. Known as the “final departure Bridging E Visa,” it reportedly grants asylum seekers the right to work, which they were barred from doing previously.

A senator with the Australian Greens, Nick McKim, said that his party would be seeking advice on how to reverse the decision in the Senate.

In a statement on Sunday, Mr. McKim said that reversing the decision would hinge on the opposition Labor party, “who have to decide whether they will accept abject cruelty as a policy position.”

The director of legal advocacy with the Human Rights Law Center, Daniel Webb, said the new visa conditions represented a “new low” that would inflict “unimaginable suffering.”

“They’ve been locked up by our government for years on remote islands, and then when they were finally released the government banned them from working, training or even volunteering,” he said. “And now they are suddenly being cut off, kicked out and told to leave the country.”

“The sensible and compassionate thing to do is to let them stay,” he added. “Instead, our Immigration Minister Peter Dutton is trying to force them back to danger by making them destitute.

“We’re talking about women who were sexually assaulted on Nauru,” Mr. Webb said. “Men who were attacked and injured on Manus. Children who were so traumatized by offshore detention that they needed psychiatric care in Australia.”

Last week, The Guardianreported that three pregnant women had been refused medical transfers for abortions, procedures that are illegal in Nauru, a largely conservative Christian country, and that 50 other asylum seekers had been denied medical transfers against doctors’ recommendations.

In 2014, an Iranian asylum seeker detained at Manus Island died after developing severe sepsis from a leg infection. An inquest into his death last year found delays in transporting him to a hospital in Australia for treatment.

Last month, the body of another Iranian asylum seeker, Hamed Shamshiripour, was discovered by children in Papua New Guinea, in what the police believe was a suicide. Mr. Shamshiripour’s friends had repeatedly asked for help for what they said were his worsening depressive episodes.

According to a report released in June by the Australian government, there were 803 people detained at the center on Manus and 371 in Nauru, including 48 women and 42 children.

Also in June, Australia agreed to a landmark $53 million settlement in a class-action lawsuit filed on behalf of current and former detainees on Manus for mental and physical harm sustained while incarcerated.

Asylum seekers have been sent to Manus and Nauru as part of a policy that Australia says is meant to deter human traffickers from sending desperate people to its shores on rickety boats, usually by way of Indonesia.

The main detention center on Manus is slated to close in October, and water and electricity to parts of it have been cut off. The fate of those still housed there, in light of a promised deal to resettle the refugees in the United States, remains unclear.

PNG Uncovered People Smuggling crimes

Loop PNG Author 

This was the statement by Foreign Minister Rimbink Pato, while speaking at the Bali Process Government and Business Forum in Perth, Australia, last week.

He said PNG has committed to advancing measures to stop human trafficking and modern-day slavery in the APEC Region.

“We are continuing to step up border control protection measures that will detect further illegal activities.

“Be it modern-day slavery in the fisheries sector, or the exploration of people in the sex trade, and other instances of forced labour, Papua New Guinea takes this issue very seriously.”

Accompanied by Minister for Immigration and Border Security, Petrus Thomas, Pato said action that will save lives must be stepped up.

“Human trafficking is a scourge, a blight on humanity, and an anathema to the free world,” he told the audience of Ministers and business leaders from 45 countries.

“From the poorest to the most developed countries, right now, people are being trafficked and their rights denied.

“We all have a role to play, regardless of the size or power of our country or Government.”

Pato said Government cannot tackle the problem of human trafficking on its own, but must work with the private sector; and the upcoming APEC Transport Ministerial Meeting in Port Moresby will advance this agenda.

“We have to work with the transportation industry to interrupt supply chains and networks in this awful trade in human misery.

“In October this year, Papua New Guinea will host the 10th APEC Transportation Ministerial Meeting.

“APEC has been proactive in encouraging collaboration, through the APEC Anti-Corruption and Transparency Working Group, to combat the problem of human trafficking in the Asia-Pacific region.

“Considering transportation networks are exploited by traffickers, I expect our engagement through APEC will make an important contribution to dealing with this problem.

“I will convey the outcomes of this Bali Process forum to Papua New Guinea’s Transport Minister, to be presented at the 10th APEC Transportation Ministerial Meeting in Port Moresby.”

Pato said there is no place for human trafficking and smuggling in the modern world, and Papua New Guinea will take the strongest stand to detect, apprehend and prosecute the criminals involved in this vile practice.

“I commend the work of the Bali Process, and the shared desire we all have to protect human liberty and to save lives.”



(Participants at the Bali Process Government and Business Forum that was hosted in Perth, Australia – Picture: Global New Light Of Myanmar)

Govt To Toughen Fiscal Regime, Control Exports


The O’Neill Government will now toughen its fiscal regime to control depleted resources going out of the country without any record, Deputy Prime Minister Charles Abel said last Friday.

Mr Abel said that for far too long, the Government has had no control nor database on all resources leaving the country like gold, copper, logs, fish and others and that is one reason why the country’s economy has declined despite PNG being so rich in resources.

The Government has put in place measures to address this part of which is included in the 100 day 25-point plan.

Together with these, Treasury Minister Abel said that it was important that the government hit the ground running that it articulated its longer term plans but also respond to some specific issues that were happening to the country’s economy both today and in the long term.

“We going to maintain our very best for fiscal discipline,” Mr Abel said. PNG during the past five even going back 10 years has enjoyed some excellent economic growth

“The country has benefitted greatly from different factors. We had the boom in the commodity prices that is to the previous government from 2007-2012, we enjoyed commodity boom and we had surplus budgets and we enjoyed good growth that, following that we came into the construction phase of the PNGLNG, that stimulated a lot of growth into the economy, then of course after that phase, the O’Neill government undertook this big expansionary fiscal policy that is government in anticipation of gap between the construction phase and the receipts of our exports in 2014.

“We deliberately went into a series of deficit budgets we wanted to create that resource envelope to get the investment going to economy going and generate returns to our country – to create jobs and we went through that phase and of course we came across particular circumstances that have resulted in the slow-down of that extraordinary economic growth that we had.”

PNG Cautions Australia

Justice and Attorney-General Minister Davis Steven has sent a blunt message to Canberra that it cannot simply shut the Manus regional processing centre and walk away, leaving the 800-plus asylum seekers in PNG as announced at the end of October

“No one wants to see a situation where Australia withdraws from Manus leaving behind unwilling foreign nationals who we will not be able to cater for and accommodate in our country,” Mr Steven said at the weekend.

“The Government will not allow that to happen.” The Australian Government has announced that it will close the centre at the end of October.

Last Friday, Mr Steven summoned the Australian High Commission representative to his office at Waigani where he relayed the PNG Government’s position. He told the High Commissioner’s representative that the October 31 closure date of the Manus Regional Processing Centre was not correct because that date had not been agreed to by the PNG Government.

Both countries signed an agreement in 2013 for a Regional Resettlement Arrangement for Asylum Seekers and Minister Davis Steven said the existing agreement is current, effective and binding for both the Australian Government and PNG Government.

Mr Steven said a submission for Cabinet is now being prepared by Immigration and Border Security and the Office of the State Solicitor to be passed to other government agencies for input, including implications, before the NEC could consider the recommendations.

The Supreme Court had ruled that the detention of the asylum seekers on Manus was unconstitutional following a Supreme Court reference by then opposition leader Belden Namah.

After the decision was handed down, both Canberra and Waigani agreed to shut the centre.

A spokesperson for Australia’s Department of Immigration and Border Protection said when contacted: “Australia remains committed to working with Papua New Guinea towards the closure of the centre. We look forward to further discussions with the PNG Government over the coming days and weeks.”

Former Inmates, Drug Addicts get Help for a New Start

Former marijuana addicts and former prison inmates in a village outside Mt Hagen city were recently given some assistance to start a new life.

The Kelua Drug and Crime Stoppers Association gave 26 of its members K1000 worth of materials each to help each one start a small business. Two received K2000 worth of trade store goods, nine were presented seedlings, fertilizers, pesticides and gardening tools worth K9000 and 15 received one box of chicks and seven bags of stock feed bags each to start poultry projects.
Association chairman Paul Kilt thanked local MP and Minister for State and Public Enterprises William Duma for giving K50,000 to the association early this year.
Kilt said that the association was formed nine years ago with the support of non-government organisations like the Melanesian Solidarity and the Catholic Church to minimise law and order issues in the area.

He said Kelua was known as “Sin City”.

Kilt said this had changed during the nine years when many, involved in criminal activities had quit their bad ways and were rehabilitated.

He said the association’s activities had helped cut down on criminal activities and smoking of marijuana, and restored peace and harmony in the community.

“We are now supporting the reformed drug addicts and criminals with K26,000 worth of materials.”

He said that after six months the youths will repay K500 to the association to help other members .

Those who repay K500 by March next year would be eligible for bigger funding to expand their projects or business activities but those who failed to repay would not be considered for future assistance, Kilt said.

The patron of the association, Robert Mek, said he was satisfied with the work of association so far.

He said the once no-go zone for outsiders was now becoming a peaceful place.

The National Newspaper August 23, 2017

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