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 (m/f) 70/68 per 1,000
Adult literacy 57.8 per cent
Sorcery-related killings increased. The government did little to effectively address the situation or to bring the perpetrators to justice. Women and girls suffered physical and sexual violence, and those responsible were seldom brought to justice. Police continued to forcibly evict communities from mining areas. HIV infection rates were the highest in the region, but access to testing, treatment, care and prevention were not adequately met.
- In January, a group of men stripped a woman naked, gagged and burned her alive at Kerebug rubbish dump in Mount Hagen, after she was suspected of practising witchcraft. Provincial police commanders in Eastern Highlands and Chimbu admitted that there were more than 50 sorcery-related killings in their provinces in 2008.
- In February, villagers shot dead a 60-year-old man, threw his body into a fire and burned his son alive after accusing them of causing the death of a prominent member of the community by sorcery.
Violence against women and girls
Physical, psychological and sexual abuse continued to be a major problem.
- In April, a police officer was charged with the rape and abduction of a 13-year-old girl in Port Moresby.
- In May, police officers in Lae reportedly killed a female sex worker and beat and badly injured another.
Right to health – HIV
HIV infection rates were the highest in the Pacific Region. According to WHO statistics published in October, an estimated 1.4 per cent of the population lived with HIV. Information gathering and monitoring of HIV rates was very patchy. Despite attempts to improve health care for people living with HIV, they still faced problems with palliative care, stigmatization and discrimination. Health care and social workers lacked training and many trained medical staff emigrated.
- In a historic court case, a man was fined Kina 2,000 (US$705) by the court in Western Province for “unlawfully stigmatizing” a girl for taking an HIV test. He had publicly accused her of having AIDS outside the hospital where she had gone for testing.
Between April and July, police officers raided villages in the highlands, forcibly evicting people from their homes, burning down at least 97 houses and destroying their belongings, gardens and livestock. These incidents took place in the “special mining lease” area within which the Porgera Joint Venture operates one of the largest mines in the country. The police acted without prior notice or discussion and without alternative accommodation or other assistance being made available. Police acted violently in carrying out the forced evictions, including threatening residents with guns and firing weapons. Police beat some residents and reportedly raped three women during the forced evictions.
Amnesty International visits
Amnesty International delegates visited Papua New Guinea in July, August and September.