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Human Trafficking & Modern-day Slavery

Poverty drives the unsuspecting poor into the hands of traffickers

Published reports & articles from 2000 to 2025         

Independent State of

Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea is richly endowed with natural resources, but exploitation has been hampered by rugged terrain and the high cost of developing infrastructure. Agriculture provides a subsistence livelihood for 75% of the population. Mineral deposits, including copper, gold, and oil, account for nearly two-thirds of export earnings.

A consortium led by a major American oil company hopes to begin the commercialization of the country's estimated 227 billion cubic meters of natural gas reserves through the construction of a liquefied natural gas (LNG) production facility by 2010. The project has the potential to double the GDP of Papua New Guinea.  [The World Factbook, U.S.C.I.A. 2009]

Description: Description: Description: PapuaNewGuinea

Papua New Guinea is a source, destination, and transit country for men, women, and children trafficked for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation and forced labor. Women and children are trafficked within the country for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation and domestic servitude; men are trafficked to logging and mining camps for the purpose of forced labor. Women and children from Malaysia, Thailand, the People’s Republic of China (PRC), and the Philippines are trafficked to Papua New Guinea for forced prostitution and PRC men are trafficked to the country for forced labor. - U.S. State Dept Trafficking in Persons Report, June, 2009   Check out a later country report here and possibly a full TIP Report here


CAUTION:  The following links have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in Papua New Guinea.  Some of these links may lead to websites that present allegations that are unsubstantiated or even false.  No attempt has been made to validate their authenticity or to verify their content.



If you are looking for material to use in a term-paper, you are advised to scan the postings on this page and others to see which aspects of Human Trafficking are of particular interest to you.  Would you like to write about Forced-Labor?  Debt Bondage? Prostitution? Forced Begging? Child Soldiers? Sale of Organs? etc.  On the other hand, you might choose to include precursors of trafficking such as poverty and hunger. There is a lot to the subject of Trafficking.  Scan other countries as well.  Draw comparisons between activity in adjacent countries and/or regions.  Meanwhile, check out some of the Term-Paper resources that are available on-line.


Check out some of the Resources for Teachers attached to this website.


When the Bartered Bride Opts Out of the Bargain

Seth Mydans, "A Bartered Bride’s ‘No’ Stuns Papua New Guinea: Rejection of Tribal Customs is a Sign of Changing Times," New York Times, 7 May 1997

[accessed 6 February 2016]

The compensation demand for the killing of a clan leader in this remote mountain village followed a complex tribal calculus: $15,000, 25 pigs and an 18-year-old woman named Miriam Wilngal.

Miriam Wilngal said no.

At first, she said, it had not occurred to her to object. Women have been bought as brides in parts of this Pacific island nation for centuries. It has been only a few decades since the tribes that populate the remote mountains here discovered that they are not the only people on earth, and village life still mostly follows ancient codes.

But in a striking sign of changing times, Miss Wilngal had a personal ambition. She wanted to finish high school. ''I want to learn to be a typist,'' she said in an interview in Port Moresby, the capital, 300 miles to the southeast, where she has taken refuge from her angry relatives.

*** ARCHIVES ***

2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Papua New Guinea

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, 30 March 2021

[accessed 21 June 2021]


Foreign and local men and boys seeking work on fishing vessels go into debt to pay recruitment fees, which vessel owners and senior crew leverage to compel them to continue working indefinitely. The law allows officials, on order of a judge or magistrate, to apprehend a noncitizen crewmember of a foreign-registered ship who fails to rejoin the crewmember’s ship during its time in the country. The crewmember is placed at the disposal of the diplomatic representative of the country in which the ship is registered (or, if no such representation exists, the ship’s owner or representative) in order to return the crewmember to the ship. Observers noted this practice might prevent foreign workers from reporting or escaping situations of forced labor.

There were reports that foreign and local women and children were subjected to forced labor as domestic servants, as beggars or street vendors, and in the tourism sector (see section 7.c.). Foreign and local men were subjected to forced labor, including through debt bondage, in the logging, mining, and fishing sectors. There also were reports of foreign workers, particularly from China and other Pacific nations, entering the country with fraudulent documents and being subjected to forced labor.


Many children worked in the informal economy and were seen directing parking vehicles and selling cigarettes, food, and DVDs on the street and in grocery stores throughout the country, sometimes near mining and logging camps. There were reports of boys as young as 12 being exploited as “market taxis” in urban areas, carrying extremely heavy loads for low pay; some may have been victims of forced labor. There were also reports of children engaging in mining activities, including prospectors forcing children to work in alluvial gold mining.

Children worked mainly in subsistence agriculture, cash crop farming, and livestock herding. This included seasonal work on plantations (for coffee, tea, copra, and palm oil) in the formal and informal rural economies.

Some children (primarily girls) worked long hours as domestic servants in private homes, often to repay a family debt to the “host” family, in situations that sometimes constituted forced labor. In some cases the host was a relative who informally “adopted” the child.

Freedom House Country Report

2020 Edition

[accessed 8 July 2020]


Legal safeguards against exploitative working conditions are weakly enforced, and frequent abuses in sectors including logging and mining have been reported. The government does not actively prosecute human traffickers, and efforts to identify victims are inadequate. The US Labor Department has previously assembled evidence of child labor in the coffee, cocoa, palm oil, and rubber sectors, as well as in commercial sexual exploitation.

In the 2019 edition of its Trafficking in Persons Report, the US State Department reported that bride-price payments facilitated labor and sexual exploitation. The department also reported that women and children were often ensnared in sex trafficking or forced servitude after they were promised legitimate education or employment opportunities.

2017 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor

Office of Child Labor, Forced Labor, and Human Trafficking, Bureau of International Labor Affairs, US Dept of Labor, 2018

[accessed 22 April 2019]

[accessed 4 May 2020]

Note:: Also check out this country’s report in the more recent edition DOL Worst Forms of Child Labor

[page 794]

In Papua New Guinea, children are exploited in commercial sex. (1; 10) Some children from rural areas are sent to live with relatives or “host” families in cities, where they may be forced to perform domestic work to pay off family debts. (1; 3; 2)

The government has established laws and regulations related to child labor (Table 4). However, gaps exist in Papua New Guinea’s legal framework to adequately protect children from child labor, including the identification of hazardous occupations or activities prohibited for children and the prohibition of commercial sexual exploitation of children.

Country Operations Plan 2007 [PDF]

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees UNHCR, 2007

[access date unavailable]

[accessed 11 February 2018]

OBJECTIVE 2: STRENGTHEN THE CAPACITY OF LOCAL PARTNERS IN PNG, INCLUDING GOPNG, TO PROVIDE EFFECTIVE PROTECTION AND ASSISTANCE TO PERSONS OF CONCERN - UNHCR will continue to conduct workshops on the role and core mandate of UNHCR, and on the Refugee Convention in relation to Migration and Human Trafficking training for GoPNG officials from Immigration, the Police, the Judiciary, and Customs. This will ensure that by 2009 competent staff at the border towns are able to identify asylum seekers and refugees among migrants, are aware of PNG’s international obligations, and respond appropriately.

Papua New Guinea Gossip Newsletter

Neo Melanesian, 6 Nov 2003

[accessed 15 December 2010]

[scroll down]

HUMAN TRAFFICKING - The Federal Police from Australia have warned that PNG risks the potential to be exploited in the global problem of human trafficking. It has been said that PNG is an easy target because of its close proximity to Australia and any person could easily pick up PNG on the world map and say "I can get to Australia through PNG". This could account for the increasing numbers of illegal arrivals in PNG in the past few months. People smuggling usually involved highly orchestrated syndicates within the region

Delegates agree to strengthen efforts to reduce demand for Commerical Sexual Exploitation Of Children

Joint Media Release: ECPAT International, UNESCAP, UNICEF, 11 November 2004, Bangkok

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 10 September 2011]

In the Pacific Islands, ongoing research is revealing growing problems of commercial sexual exploitation. In the Solomon Islands, for example, girls are still forced into early marriages and recent violence has led to a surge in child rapes and in boys and girls being forced into prostitution for economic survival. Child marriage is also a major problem in Papua New Guinea, and is a basis of demand for internal trafficking of children.

Concluding Observations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC)

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, 30 January 2004

[accessed 15 December 2010]

[57] The Committee, while welcoming the ratification in 2000 by the State party of ILO Conventions No. 138 concerning the Minimum Age for Admission to Employment of 1973 and No. 182 concerning the Prohibition and Immediate Action for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour of 1999, remains concerned at the significant number of children working, inter alia, as domestic servants.

The Protection Project - Papua New Guinea [DOC]

The Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), The Johns Hopkins University

[accessed 2009]

FACTORS THAT CONTRIBUTE TO THE TRAFFICKING INFRASTRUCTUREPacific Island children may be particularly easy targets for child sex tourists. The South Pacific is emerging as a huge tourist destination. As police crack down on sex offenders in the home countries of child sex tourists (e.g., Australia), as well as in the more popular sex tourist destinations in Asia, there is growing concern that child sex tourism and associated activities are on the increase in the South Pacific In fact, sex tourists have been blamed for the latest eruption of HIV infections in the region. Fear of infection and stricter laws have prompted many sex tourists to skip traditional Southeast Asian destinations in favor of the South Pacific. Officially, however, the prevalence of HIV/AIDS is still lower in the South Pacific than in any other region in the world.

Human Rights Overview by Human Rights Watch – Defending Human Rights Worldwide

[accessed 15 December 2010]


Human Rights Reports » 2006 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 6, 2007

[accessed 10 February 2020]

CHILDREN - Some children were forced to work long hours as domestic servants in private homes, often to repay a family debt to the "host" family.

Child brides frequently were taken as additional wives or given as brides to pay family debts and often were used as domestic servants. Child brides were particularly vulnerable to domestic abuse

TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS – The law does not prohibit trafficking in persons. There were reports of trafficking within the country. Custom requires the family of the groom to pay a "bride price" to the family of the bride. While marriages were usually consensual, women and female children were sometimes sold against their will. There were also reports of Asian women being trafficked into the country to work in the sex industry. Transactional sex was common and often involved the sexual exploitation of children.

The government investigated allegations of corruption among officials dealing with passport issuance and immigration. The allegations primarily involved the illegal issuance of residence and work permits for Chinese or South Asian nationals migrating to the country. Nevertheless, there was concern that the country may be have been used as a route for trafficking in persons to Australia.

The Department of Labor’s 2005 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor [PDF]

U.S. Dept of Labor Bureau of International Labor Affairs, 2006

[accessed 15 December 2010]

Note:: Also check out this country’s report in the more recent edition DOL Worst Forms of Child Labor

CHILD LABOR LAWS AND ENFORCEMENT - The worst forms of child labor may be prosecuted under different statutes in Papua New Guinea. The Constitution prohibits forced labor. The Criminal Code prohibits procuring, luring, or abducting women or girls for sexual relations or for confinement in a brothel. The Department of Labor and Industrial Relations and the Department of Police are responsible for implementing and enforcing child labor laws; however, the U.S. Department of State reports that enforcement by those departments has been poor.

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