Universal Periodic Review- Papua New Guinea 2021

Civil Societies in PNG Submit Joint Report to the United Nations.

The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) commenced in 2006. It involves a review of the human rights records of all 193 UN Member States, every five years. The UPR is a State-driven process, under the auspices of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UN HRC). It provides the opportunity for each State under review to announce the actions they have taken to improve its human rights record and for the fellow States to make recommendations to the country under review to foster the implementation of its human rights obligations on its territory (UPR- OHCHR).

Following PNG’s second UPR in May 2016, 161 recommendations have been addressed to Papua New Guinea (PNG), which accepted only 101 recommendations. To implement them, the country established a multi-sectoral agency working committee with the mandate to oversee and coordinate sectoral implementation. However, there has been slow progress in the implementation of these recommendations .

PNG will once again be reviewed for the third time under the UPR mechanism in October/November 2021 at its 39th Session by member states for its commitment in improving human rights.

The International Catholic Centre of Geneva (CCIG), together with its partners Edmund Rice International (ERI), the Marist International Solidarity Foundation (FMSI) and the Dominicans for Justice and Peace, organized a three-day workshop, ahead of the UN UPR of PNG. The capacity building workshop took place on the 15th to 17th February 2021, at Emmaus Conference Center inside Don Bosco Technical College in Port Moresby.

The workshop was aimed at enhancing the participation of representatives of the local civil society in the UPR of PNG, by training them on the functioning of the UPR and the advocacy opportunities around this process. CCIG with its partners formed a Steering Committee based in PNG to lead the UPR Process. A total of 25 participants from various national associations involved in the defense of human rights across the country were invited to participate in the third cycle of UPR.

The participants were organized into groups to discuss on some key issues in PNG. They formed working groups on four thematic areas: 1) women’s rights, 2) children’s rights, 3) rights of people with disabilities and 4) environmental issues.

The working group on women’s rights discussed the issue of ‘Equal participation in Parliament, politics and decision making, Gender-based violence (GBV) and Sorcery accusation-related violence (SARV)’. The working group on children’s rights discussed the ‘Right to education, Right to health, Juvenile justice and Violence against children’. The working group on rights of people with disabilities discussed ‘Children with disabilities, Violence against persons with disabilities and Participation in public affairs’. The working group on environmental issues discussed ‘Mining and Logging’.

The civil societies contributed to the review by monitoring the implementation of the government’s international commitments. They then drafted several recommendations and submitted a consolidated human rights report to the UN.

The next step in the UPR process will be advocacy and lobbying to local and international authorities.


The UPR Joint Report on PNG can be downloaded below in PDF format and shared broadly among NGOs, Government Departments and International missions.

References:

Universal Periodic Review, OHCHR. https://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/UPR/Pages/PGIndex.aspx

International Catholic Centre of Geneva, CCIG. https://www.ccig-iccg.org/

Guilty until proven Innocent (A poem dedicated to the victims of SARV)

This is the poem that inspired me to write the story about the woman who was accused of sorcery and burnt alive.
This poem was written last year, I wrote it for the Crocodile Prize Literary Competition

A little boy of 5 had just died in my village
Cause of death remains unknown
Word is that I killed him
Word is that I removed his heart from his chest and ate it
Word is that I ate half and place the other half back
Relatives begged me to escape
But How can I when I have done no such thing
The village mob came and dragged me out my house
Relatives said “We warned you”
The mob said “We got the sanguma”

I was found guilty of murder until proven innocent

They tortured me, burned with me hot iron rods
Like a welder’s welding rod coming in contact with metal
My flesh burned
Smelled like a pig’s flesh when roasted
They cut my fingers off one by one
Interrogated me from dusk till dawn
They wanted me to confess
They promised I would live if I confessed


I was found guilty of murder until proven innocent

I thought about my children
Whom I brought into the world
They are my world, my life revolved around them
Who would look after them if I am gone
I thought about my husband, my pillar, my strength
What would he do without me
Was he capable of looking after our 4 children?
I couldn’t leave them
What would life be without me


I was found guilty of murder until proven innocent

They forced me to confess
The pain was too much to bear
So I confessed that I killed the boy
Only so they would spare me
They didn’t keep their word
They tortured me more
This time even more painfully
They tore me piece by piece
Like a lion ripping off the flesh of its prey piece by piece

I was found guilty of murder until proven innocent

When the police came, the mob chased them away
If the law couldn’t protect me
Who else would?
Who else was strong enough to face an angry mob
My strong and fierce warrior husband was helpless and weak before the mob
With tears in his eyes, He turned away
He covered his ears in shame when he heard my cries from a mile away

I was found guilty of murder until proven innocent

I was given a tribal justice
I appeared before the elders of the village

They were the judge and the jury
I pleaded my case before them
No evidence was presented before the court
Still,
I was found guilty
The sentence was death

I was found guilty of murder until proven innocent

I tried to hide my shame
My naked body was exposed to the men
They did unimaginable things to my body
They enjoyed it
I could see it in their cold dark eyes
They thirst for blood and revenge
They beat me till I lost all consciousness
They pissed on my naked body
I begged for water, they made drink their piss
Said I was a witch, a sanguma, a murderer

I was found guilty of murder until proven innocent

They led me to the village square
They had a cross made from old rotten wood
They crucified me on a cross
The cross, a symbol of redemption for humanity
Was now my condemnation
If Christ was watching
He probably was in pain watching a innocent woman being tortured
No man can save me

I was found guilty of murder until proven innocent


So I look to the sky and prayed for divine intervention
But God wasn’t there
He turned his back on me
So like Jesus,
I cried to him, my Lord, my God
Why have you forsaken me
They piled tires beneath my cross
I remembered the scene from the movie passion of Christ
And asked myself why?
What did I do to deserve this?
They Poured petrol on my naked body
I felt trickled it down slowly
I could taste it on the tip of my tongue
My lips were dry

I was found guilty of murder until proven innocent

Someone from the mob threw a burning wood onto the tires
The tires caught flame
And I felt my feet burning
I screamed but no one helped
I remembered Late Leniata Kepari.

We were both found guilty of murder and sentence to a painful death without given a chance to prove our innocence.

Women covered their eyes, children their eyes and ears, men stood proud with their chest out
Justice has been served they said

I was found guilty they said, I had been weighed and found wanting.