Papua New Guinea


The following information is based on the Amnesty International Report 2021/22. This report documented the human rights situation in 149 countries in 2021, as well as providing global and regional analysis. It presents Amnesty International’s concerns and calls for action to governments and others. 


Lack of capacity in the healthcare system and insufficient information about vaccination programmes limited people’s access to adequate healthcare. Gender-based violence remained pervasive, including in the context of a growing number of violent attacks against women following accusations of sorcery. Development and environmental destruction negatively impacted the lives and livelihoods of Indigenous peoples. Continued intercommunal violence killed dozens of people. Incidents of arbitrary arrests and police brutality occurred.


The government and Bougainville leaders reached an agreement on the timetable to finalize the terms of secession of Bougainville from Papua New Guinea following the 2019 independence referendum. Under the agreement, Bougainville will assume independent sovereign powers by 2027.

Right to health

In October, following a renewed surge in Covid-19 infections, hospitals in at least three provinces reported shortages of medical supplies and healthcare workers.

Less than 3% of the population were fully vaccinated against Covid-19 by the end of the year. Authorities failed to effectively combat widespread vaccine hesitancy, or to provide accurate and timely information about the virus and the vaccine programme through languages and formats that were accessible to all segments of the population.

Healthcare workers were attacked by members of the public and also remained at high risk of contracting Covid-19. In October in the city of Lae, health workers who were administering Covid-19 and polio vaccines had rocks thrown at them.1

Gender-based violence

The police failed to adequately protect women from violence in the home and in the community. Violent attacks against women accused of sorcery were reported throughout the year. In one case in March, a woman and her 19-year-old daughter were physically assaulted and thrown off a bridge by community members in Goroka after being accused of sorcery following the death of the woman’s husband from Covid-19. Local human rights organizations reported that sorcery-related violence and domestic violence increased in the context of the pandemic.

A Special Parliamentary Committee on Gender-based Violence established in 2020 commenced hearings in May, with further hearings postponed until 2022.

In June, male students at the University of Papua New Guinea disrupted a protest by female students and staff against allegations of widespread sexual harassment at the university. Journalists covering the event were also attacked, but no serious injuries were reported.

Indigenous peoples’ rights

In January, Indigenous people in New Ireland province staged a sit-in protest after the government failed to pay agreed compensation for the development of Kavieng Airport on their lands.

In July, the Indigenous people known as “shark callers”, also from New Ireland province, held a cultural festival to protest against the impacts of deep-sea mining for minerals and metals on their livelihoods and culture. The government declined to join the increasing number of states, NGOs and civil society groups calling for a ban on deep-sea mining.

Right to life

Intercommunal violence continued with 38 people killed in two separate incidents in Hela and Eastern Highlands provinces in February and April respectively. The lack of an effective and adequately resourced police service contributed to challenges in addressing such violence and other law and order concerns in remote areas.

Death penalty

On 31 July, the Supreme Court revoked orders issued by the National Court in 2017 that had temporarily stayed executions, pending the establishment of clemency procedures under the Constitution.

Arbitrary arrests and detentions

In April, a lawyer, Laken Lepatu Agilio, was assaulted and arrested by police after filing a corruption complaint against the governor of Enga province. The corruption allegations related to a compensation scheme by the Canadian-owned Porgera gold mine, for human rights violations including forced evictions, rape and other sexual violence by police and private security personnel at the mine. A police officer was subsequently disciplined for the lawyer’s arbitrary arrest.

Refugees’ and migrants’ rights

The Papua New Guinea and Australian governments ended the offshore processing agreement between the two countries in October. However, it was unclear what protections or resettlement options would be available to the 88 refugees and 36 asylum seekers remaining in Papua New Guinea at year end.

Papua New Guinea Newsroom

November 21, 2018 • Report

Papua New Guinea: Australian and PNG leaders must act urgently to save lives on Manus Island

The misery of indefinite detention in Papua New Guinea (PNG) is pushing increasing numbers of refugees and people seeking asylum to suicide attempts and self-harm, a new report by the …

January 31, 2018 • Report

Punishment not protection: Australia’s treatment of refugees and asylum seekers in Papua New Guinea

The Australian government has abandoned hundreds of refugees and asylum seekers, leaving them in a situation that more closely resembles punishment instead of protection in Papua New Guinea, Amnesty International said in a new report today.

May 23, 2016 • Report

Outlawed and Abused: Criminalizing Sex Work in Papua New Guinea

In Papua New Guinea, it is illegal to live off the earnings of sex work and to organize commercial sex. Homosexuality is also criminalized and is the primary basis for prosecuting male sex workers. Amnesty International’s research found these criminal laws allow the police to threaten, extort and arbitrarily detain sex workers.

February 18, 2016 • Report

Amnesty International State of the World 2015-2016

International protection of human rights is in danger of unravelling as short-term national self-interest and draconian security crackdowns have led to a wholesale assault on basic freedoms and rights, warned Amnesty International as it launched its annual assessment of human rights around the world. “Your rights are in jeopardy: they are being treated with utter contempt by many governments around the world,” said Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International.

February 25, 2015 • Report

State of the World 2014/2015

This has been a devastating year for those seeking to stand up for human rights and for those caught up in the suffering of war zones. Governments pay lip service to the importance of protecting civilians. And yet the world's politicians have miserably failed to protect those in greatest need. Amnesty International believes that this can and must finally change.

May 23, 2013 • Report

Annual Report: Papua New Guinea 2013

Independent State of Papua New Guinea Head of state Queen Elizabeth II, represented by Head of government Peter Charles Paire O’Neill (de facto) The government did little to address high …

May 10, 2011 • Report

Undermining Rights: Forced evictions and police brutality around the Porgera gold mine, Papua New Guinea

On April 27, 2009, police forcibly evicted villagers living alongside the Porgera gold mine in Papua New Guinea. Families were forced to flee from their homes as police burned down their houses.

March 19, 2011 • Report

Annual Report: Papua New Guinea 2010

Head of state Queen Elizabeth II represented by Paulias Matane Head of government Michael Somare Death penalty abolitionist for all crimes Population 6.7 million Life expectancy 60.7 years Under-5 mortality …

July 30, 2018 • Press Release

Coroner’s findings on preventable death of Iranian asylum seeker on Manus Island must prompt government action

In response to today’s damning coronial inquest findings into the tragic death of Hamid Khazaei, an Iranian man who died in Australia in 2014 from an infection acquired in the Manus Island …

November 7, 2017 • Press Release

Manus Island: Court ruling jeopardizes lives

Critical services - including food, water and medical treatment - must be restored to the more than 600 refugees and vulnerable men inside the Lombrum detention centre on Manus Island before a major tragedy occurs, Amnesty International said today as researchers returned from Manus Island.