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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Jan. 24) – Papua New Guinea has for the first time been mentioned for serious violation of human rights in an annual report of a human rights group based in New York, U.S.A.

It singled out PNG as the only South Pacific country to be brought to world attention about the violations, especially as it affects young people at the hands of police.

"Respect for human rights has been seriously eroded over the past year in several Asian countries (and Papua New Guinea), in particular Nepal, Cambodia, Thailand, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and China," Human Rights Watch, said last Tuesday as it issued its World Report 2006 in New York.

"Impunity from prosecution for human rights violations is the most important problem in the region, and the most widespread," said Brad Adams, Asia division director at Human Rights Watch.

"The Asian values’ argument that human rights are different in Asia has been defeated. But the abusive governments that used to hide behind that rhetoric still commit the worst kinds of abuses without fear of punishment."

On PNG, the World Report 2006 said: "Papua New Guinea police routinely used violence and torture against individuals in custody, with children as frequent targets.

"Police abuses, such as police rape, targeting of sex workers and men and boys engaged in homosexual conduct and harassment of people carrying condoms, may also fuel PNG’s burgeoning AIDS epidemic.

"Violence against women and girls were pervasive, with police often ignoring complaints of sexual or domestic violence."

Zama Coursen-Neff, senior researcher of the group’s Children’s Rights Division, who visited PNG early last year to investigate abuses of children’s rights in police custody, told The National yesterday that the Human Rights Watch’s 2006 World Report contained information on human rights developments last year in over 70 countries and for the first time, PNG was also included.

Ms. Coursen-Neff said since the PNG chapter was authored, charges had been brought against two officers in the shootings of students in Enga province.

"Human Rights Watch previously urged that officers and commanders found to be responsible be held accountable – we welcome Police Minister Kimisopa’s announcement to this effect.

"We will be following the proceedings with interest this year."

On neighboring Indonesia, Human Rights made no mention of possible abuses in Papua province, which shares a common land border with PNG.

January 25, 2006

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