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Papua New Guinea's serious crime problem is being metwith a violent police response. Children, who make up nearly half of thecountry's some 5.6 million people, are especially vulnerable. The experience ofSteven E. reflects that of many children at the hands of the Royal Papua NewGuinea Constabulary, the country's police force. Brutal beatings, rape, andtorture of children, as well as confinement in sordid police lockup, arewidespread police practices. Although even high level government officialsacknowledge this, almost nothing has been done to stop it.
Children Sexy (335) mp4
The vast majority of children who are arrested are severelybeaten and often tortured by members of the police. Almost everyone HumanRights Watch interviewed in each area we visited who had been arrested wasbeaten. Children reported being kicked and beaten by gun butts, crowbars ("pinsbars"), wooden batons, fists, rubber hoses, and chairs. Boys described beingshot and knifed while in custody. Girls told us that they had been forced tochew and swallow condoms. Many of those we interviewed showed us fresh woundsand scars on their heads, faces, arms, legs, and torsos that they said werefrom police. Serious injuries to the face, particularly around the eyes, werecommon.
According to victims and eyewitnesses, police typically beatindividuals at the moment of arrest, during the time they are transported tothe station, and often at the station itself. Beatings are so routine thatpolice make little or no attempt to hide them, beating children in front of thegeneral public and international observers. A man who said police beat him andforced him to fight naked with other detainees in a police station when he wassixteen or seventeen years old noted: "We thought it was their job and we justhad to accept it." Although police violence is endemic and adults describedsimilar experiences, children's particular vulnerability and the assumptionthat boys and young men are "raskols"-members of criminal gangs-make childrenespecially easy targets.
Many of the abuses the children recounted rise to the levelof torture.Under international law,torture consists of intentional acts by public officials that cause severephysical or mental pain or suffering for the purpose of obtaining informationor a confession, or for punishment, intimidation, or discrimination. We heardaccounts in which police intentionally inflicted severe pain and suffering,apparently motivated by the desire to punish those suspected of wrongdoing.Boys perceived to be part of raskol gangs are often targeted for abuse. Policesimilarly target street vendors, sex workers, and boys and men who engage inhomosexual conduct. (In Papua New Guinea, it is illegal to "live. . . onthe earnings of prostitution"; sodomy, and, in some places, selling on thestreet are also illegal.) In other cases, police use violence to obtainconfessions. For instance, we interviewed children whom police had burned, cut,whipped while naked, and humiliated during their interrogations in order tocoerce them to confess to a crime.
At police stations, many children are detained for weeks ormonths in squalid conditions that violate basic international standards. Mostsaid that police provided them with no medical care, even when seriouslyinjured. In addition, children are routinely mixed with adults in policelockup, where boys are at increased risk of sexual assault at the hands ofolder detainees. We found boys under the age of eighteen held together withadult detainees in nearly everypolice lockup we visited. In several of these police stations, separate cellswere available but were being used for adults. In some stations, childrenlacked bedding and sufficient food and water.
Police abuse of children and members of marginalized groups,including rape and other crimes of sexual violence, is not only a problem inand of itself: it may also fuel Papua New Guinea's burgeoning AIDS epidemic.Experts believe that at least 80,000 people-almost 2 percent of the population,the highest rate in the South Pacific region-are living with HIV in Papua New Guinea.By 2010, experts predict, at least 13 percent of the population may beHIV-positive. AIDS has been the leading cause of death in Port Moresby GeneralHospitalsince mid-2001.
In 2003, the government, as a result of the efforts of theUnited Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and an interagency working group ofgovernment and civil society representatives, began to create a juvenilejustice system, as envisioned by the 1991 Juvenile Courts Act. As of May 2005,seven juvenile courts were operating in some capacity in seven locations in thecountry. In 2004 and the first half of 2005, policies for dealing withjuveniles were adopted for police, magistrates, and correctional officials.These policies severely limit the circumstances under which children can bedetained and require separation from adults. The challenge remains to implementthese policies. In April 2005, fifteen volunteer juvenile court officers werecommissioned to monitor police treatment of children in police stations, andthe police opened a single processing center intended for all children detainedin Port Moresby,the country's capital. These developments are significant and commendable.However, the next step-changes in how children are treated-had yet to be seenat the time of writing. A critical component-one not yet addressed-will beaccountability for police violence.
At present, there is almost no willingness on the part ofthe police to investigate or prosecute its members. With little or no penaltyfor violators, training for police has had little effect on violence againstchildren. Indeed, the causes of police violence appear to run far deeper thansimply a need for more training: they relate to a collapse of management anddiscipline throughout the force.
Government mechanisms external to the police that might holdpolice accountable and provide victims with redress-the public solicitor'soffice, the ombudsmen's commission, and civil claims against the state-have notbeen effective in diminishing police violence. The public solicitor's officelacks the resources to represent many children charged with crimes. Theombudsman's commission, while widely commended for taking on government corruption,has little capacity to investigate reports of police abuse. Despiteextraordinary costs to the state, civil claims for police violence fail toprovide adequate remedies for many victims because procedural barriers preventmany from pursuing legitimate claims. Where victims are able to bringsuccessful claims, the penalties imposed fail to deter police violence becausethey are borne by the state, not by the police force or individual officersthemselves. There are periodic initiatives to create a national human rightscommission, but these efforts have been stalled without reaching Parliament.Others in the justice system, such as judges, appear to ignore or accept policeviolence.
Papua New Guinea's international legal obligationsprohibit torture; cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment; rape;and sexual assault. International law also requires that children be detainedonly as a measure of last resort, for the shortest appropriate period of time.When they are detained, children must be provided adequate medical care and beseparated from adults. In addition, the United Nations (U.N.) has developed aseries of principles and minimum rules on the use of force by law enforcementofficials and the detention of children that inform the interpretation ofcountry's obligations under international law. Papua New Guinea's law reflectsmany but not all of these principles.
Some authorities in Papua New Guinea are aware ofproblems in how the state treats children and have begun to introduceappropriate policy changes to reduce the rates of detention of children. Policeviolence, however, has not been addressed. The problem of police violence is soendemic, so institutionally engrained, that efforts to reduce it will notsucceed unless made part of widespread reforms and demanded from the highestlevels of government to the public.
Any serious effort to stop police violence, including severebeatings, rape, and torture of children, must include three key components:public repudiation of police violence by officials; criminal prosecution ofperpetrators; and ongoing, independent monitoring of police violence.Suggestions of immediate steps that Papua New Guinea authorities cantake in each area are outlined below.
Given the critical role of international donors,particularly Australia, infunding the police sector in Papua New Guinea,a serious effort to eradicate police violence against children in Papua New Guineawill require a far more active role on the part of the international community.Although not unaware of the problem, donors have not made a concerted effort ordevised a comprehensive strategy to assist in curbing police abuses againstchildren. To supplement existing efforts, international donors, including theAustralian government, should:
This report is based on research in Papua New Guinea in September 2004,as well as additional information gathered by our researchers between May 2004and July 2005. Because Papua New Guinea is extremely diverse-there are morethan 800 language groups, more than 600 islands, and no roads connecting thecapital city with other parts of the country-we visited five representativeareas: Port Moresby, the capital; Goroka, in the Highlands; Wewak, along thenorthern coast; Kokopo (Rabaul), in East New Britain; and Alotau, in Milne Bay.This selection should not be taken to indicate that police violence againstchildren is in any way confined to these areas. In each of the five places, wevisited facilities where children were detained, nine in total, includingpolice lockups, juvenile remand centers, and correctional institutions. We alsovisited a number of urban settlements especially targeted by police and spokedirectly with victims.
During the course of our research, we interviewed more than160 people, including thirty child victims of police violence; young adults whohad experienced police violence as children; medical personnel; social workers;NGO staff; lawyers; academics; police officials at various levels, includingrank and file officers, an assistant commissioner of police, and the head ofinternal investigations; government officials in the National AIDS Council, theOmbudsman's Commission, the Office of the Public Solicitor, and the Ministry ofJustice;the Secretary of Education;members of the Juvenile Justice Working Group; Australian government officialsfrom AusAID, the Australian Federal Police, and the Australian foreign affairsdepartment; employees of the Australian-based contractor ACIL; U.N. staff; andthe current and a former United States (U.S.) ambassador to Papua New Guinea. 041b061a72