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Torture by Police, Forced Disappearance

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In the early years of the 21st Century, 2000 to 2025                  

Independent State of Papua New Guinea

Law enforcement officials have been implicated in corruption, unlawful killings, extortion, rape, theft, and brutality. Prison conditions are poor, and the correctional service is understaffed.

  [Freedom House Country Report, 2018]

Description: Description: Description: PapuaNewGuinea

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 Torture by Authorities are of particular interest to you.  You might be interested in exploring the moral justification for inflicting pain or inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment in order to obtain critical information that may save countless lives, or to elicit a confession for a criminal act, or to punish someone to teach him a lesson outside of the courtroom.  Perhaps your paper might focus on some of the methods of torture, like fear, extreme temperatures, starvation, thirst, sleep deprivation, suffocation, or immersion in freezing water.  On the other hand, you might choose to write about the people acting in an official capacity who perpetrate such cruelty.  There is a lot to the subject of Torture by Authorities.  Scan other countries as well as this one.  Draw comparisons between activity in adjacent countries and/or regions.  Meanwhile, check out some of the Term-Paper resources that are available on-line.

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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 3 August 2021]


Although the constitution prohibits torture, individual police and correctional-services officers frequently beat and otherwise abused citizens or suspects before or during arrests, during interrogations, and in pretrial detention. There were numerous press accounts of such abuses, particularly against young detainees. In June, East Sepik Province Governor Allan Bird criticized police abuse under the COVID-19 State of Emergency, citing reports by women who marketed food that police beat them and took money from them.

In April, for example, media reported that police raided an open-air market outside of Port Moresby, where they broke vendors’ goods, stole items, and carried out body searches of men and women. A police superintendent told media that since no victims had come forward, police would not investigate the allegations. According to an August news report, police stole beer valued at 80,000 kina (PGK) ($23,000) and PGK 300,000 ($86,000) in cash from a store owner in multiple incidents in April and May.

In October media reported that a sexual assault suspect in police custody was stripped naked in a cell and beaten by the families of the alleged victims with police complicity. Police Minister Bryan Kramer launched an investigation of the beating and of “excessive force used in his arrest.”

In Papua New Guinea, witch hunts, torture and murder are reactions to the modern world

Roberta Staley, Post Magazine, 30 March 2019

[accessed 8 May 2019]

They tied her up and got tyres from a big truck,” recalls Kapo, who stood by helplessly as Leniata, who had been tortured with a hot iron rod, was bound and gagged, then dumped onto the rubbish pile along with the tyres, which were set ablaze. He looks slightly ill, then says in a small voice. “She didn’t die quickly. It took about 30 minutes.” He pauses. “Some people were horrified,” says the 26-year-old, who, along with his parents, sells betel nuts on the same busy street, Warakum Junction Road, where Leniata met her ghastly end.

Freedom House Country Report

2018 Edition

[accessed 18 May 2020]


Law enforcement officials have been implicated in corruption, unlawful killings, extortion, rape, theft, and brutality. Prison conditions are poor, and the correctional service is understaffed. Prison breaks are common. Lack of economic opportunities exacerbates urban unrest, frequently resulting in violent clashes, injuries, and deaths.

West Papuan man tortured to death by the Indonesian military in Merauke

FreeWest Papua Campaign, 23 November 2017

[accessed 23 November 2017]

There, he was brutally tortured and beaten repeatedly by the Indonesian military, leading to highly severe injuries and wounds all over his body. According to a source in Merauke, he was then taken to the Kimaam police station and thrown into a cell “for being drunk and making a fuss”.

While in the cell, Izak continued to cry out in pain at his torture and soon after being detained there, he died from his injuries.

Papua New Guinea: Disgraceful shootings of students

Amnesty International AI, 8 June 2016

[accessed 12 January 2019]

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 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.   In a statement, Prime Minister O’Neill blamed the violence on the students who had set out from their university for a peaceful protest at parliament. Before any investigation has taken place, he has denied that the police targeted the students, claiming that their only response was the use of tear-gas and “warning shots.”

Human Rights Watch World Report 2015 - Events of 2014

Human Rights Watch, 29 January 2015 or

[accessed 18 March 2015]


TORTURE AND OTHER POLICE ABUSE - Physical and sexual abuse of detainees—including children—by police and paramilitary police units continues to be widespread. In March, a videotape surfaced of police officers surrounding and unleashing three dogs on a defenseless man. Police officials later condemned the abuse and said the incident was being investigated. UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions Christof Heyns visited PNG in March and expressed concerns about police use of excessive force during arrest, interrogation, and pretrial detention, sometimes resulting in death.

In October, Prime Minister O’Neill highlighted the problem of police brutality, admitting that the PNG police force lacks discipline and is not sufficiently serving the interests of the people of PNG. O’Neill announced that a hotline will be established for members of the public to report instances of police abuse.

'Sorcerers' beheaded after three days of torture in Papua New Guinea

Agence France-Presse AFP in Sydney, 8 Apr 2013

[accessed 9 April 2013]

Two elderly women have been beheaded in Papua New Guinea after being tortured for three days, a report has said in the latest in a string of sorcery-related crimes.

Police were present during the killings last week but were outnumbered by an angry mob and could do nothing to prevent the grisly deaths, according to The Post-Courier newspaper.

"The two women were rounded up and taken to Lopele village after they were suspected of practising sorcery and blamed for the death of the former teacher, who was from Lopele village," he said.

They were tortured for three days, suffering knife and axe wounds, before being beheaded in front of the police who had been sent to the village to mediate, the report said.

PNG women in Easter torture

Agence France-Presse AFP, 6 April 2013

[accessed 6 April 2013]

A report in The National newspaper said six women and a man accused of sorcery were tortured as Easter "sacrifices" in a village in the Southern Highlands on March 28.

The man, Komape Lap, 54, told the newspaper he fought with his attackers and escaped but did not know what had become of the six women, two of whom were his wives. He said the women had their hands tied, were stripped naked and had hot irons placed "into their genitals" during the ordeal.

"This type of violence is carried out in the Highlands and it is reported regularly."

Still Making Their Own Rules

Human Rights Watch, October 30, 2006

[accessed 10 February 2013]

Ongoing Impunity for Police Beatings, Rape, and Torture in Papua New Guinea

This 50-page report is a follow-up to Human Rights Watch’s 2005 report on police violence against children. The report tracks developments in 2005 and 2006, and determines that abusive police officials rarely face punishment. Police violence against children remains rampant in Papua New Guinea, despite recent juvenile justice reform efforts. Children and others in police custody are often raped and tortured.

‘Making Their Own Rules’ Police Beatings, Rape, and Torture of Children in Papua New Guinea

Human Rights Watch, September 2005 Vol. 17, No. 8 (C)

[accessed 27 December 2016]

Papua New Guinea’s serious crime problem is being met with a violent police response. Children, who make up nearly half of the country’s some 5.6 million people, are especially vulnerable. The experience of Steven E. reflects that of many children at the hands of the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary, the country’s police force. Brutal beatings, rape, and torture of children, as well as confinement in sordid police lockup, are widespread police practices. Although even high level government officials acknowledge this, almost nothing has been done to stop it. The vast majority of children who are arrested are severely beaten and often tortured by members of the police. Almost everyone Human Rights Watch interviewed in each area we visited who had been arrested was beaten. Children reported being kicked and beaten by gun butts, crowbars (“pins bars”), wooden batons, fists, rubber hoses, and chairs.


From an old article -- URL not available

Article was published sometime prior to 2015

VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN AND GIRLS - Violence against women and girls remained widespread. Domestic violence was common, and a culture of silence and impunity prevailed. Assaults in police custody were frequently reported.

In June, a police officer from Port Moresby was found guilty of two counts of rape of a woman in custody.

In August, a young girl with a disability was burned to death in election-related violence in the highlands. Concerns were also raised that women in some areas were prevented from freely expressing their vote at the ballot box.

Following a visit to the country in March, the UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women declared such violence “a pervasive phenomenon in Papua New Guinea”, with incidents occurring at every level of society – “in the home, community and institutional settings”. She identified polygamy as one factor contributing to violence in the family, and called on government to meet its responsibilities to protect women from violence, including addressing traditional practices that are harmful to women.


For more articles:: Search Amnesty International’s website

[accessed 10 January 2019]

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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 2013]

[accessed 7 July 2019]

TORTURE AND OTHER CRUEL, INHUMAN, OR DEGRADING TREATMENT OR PUNISHMENT – The constitution prohibits such practices; however, individual police members frequently beat and otherwise abused suspects during arrests, interrogations, and in pretrial detention. There were numerous press accounts of such abuses, particularly against young detainees.

In January correction officers at Buimo prison beat and sexually abused young male detainees by forcing them to have anal sex with each other. At year's end no action had been taken against the officers, and they continued to work at the prison. In October the nongovernmental organization (NGO) Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported continued widespread police abuse of children in custody, including severe beatings and sexual abuse.

Freedom House Country Report - Political Rights: 4   Civil Liberties: 3   Status: Partly Free

2009 Edition

[accessed 10 February 2013]

LONG URL   ç 2009 Country Reports begin on Page 21

[accessed 13 May 2020]

The judiciary is independent, and the legal system is based on English common law. The Supreme Court is the final court of appeal and has original jurisdiction on constitutional matters. The National Court hears most cases and appeals from the lower district courts. Laypeople sit on village courts to adjudicate minor offenses under both customary and statutory law. Suspects often suffer lengthy pretrial detentions and trial delays because of a lack of trained judicial personnel. In August 2008, 200 inmates at Buimo jail, the largest correctional facility in PNG, went on a hunger strike to protest the long delays in their cases.

Law enforcement officials have been accused of unlawful killings, extortion, rape, theft, the sale of firearms, and the use of excessive force in the arrest and interrogation of suspects. In 2007, the Ombudsman’s Commission named the police department PNG’s most corrupt government agency. The correctional service is short of staff, and prison conditions are poor. Prison breaks are not uncommon: more than 60 inmates, including violent criminals, escaped from prisons in 2008.Serious crimes, including firearms smuggling, rape, murder, and drug trafficking, continue to increase. Weak governance and law enforcement are said to have made PNG a base for many Asian organized crime groups. Military control and effectiveness are hampered by a lack of training and equipment, poor morale, low pay, corruption, and disciplinary problems.

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Cite this webpage as: Patt, Prof. Martin, "Torture by Police, Forced Disappearance & Other Ill Treatment in the early years of the 21st Century- Papua New Guinea",, [accessed <date>]