They are the ones looking after the law! Why do they do these things like criminals?
-Woman raped at gunpoint by police in Port Moresby,
September 3, 2005
I don't think police understand what the word "police" means. They should be helping people, protecting people. They should face the fact that their uniform and vehicle means that they should protect people's lives, not abuse them.
-Man, Port Moresby, September 3, 2005
Police in Papua New Guinea are continuing to meet the country's serious crime problem with routine wanton violence and abuse. Such tactics have proven ineffective as crime control, and have deeply eroded the public trust and cooperation crucial to policing.
In 2005, Human Rights Watch issued "'Making Their Own Rules': Police Beatings, Rape, and Torture of Children in Papua New Guinea," a 124-page report documenting widespread police violence, including torture and rape, against persons in their custody. Children, we found, are frequent targets, as are sex workers and men and boys suspected of homosexual conduct. Children are detained as a matter of course in police lockup with adults (even when separate space is available), where they are at risk of rape and other forms of violence.
In August 2006, Human Rights Watch returned to Papua New Guinea to assess developments since our original research, particularly in juvenile justice, where recently there have been signs of advances. Our investigations revealed that police continue to routinely use excessive force, sexual violence, and torture against individuals in custody, including children. Most police who commit abuses face little or no penalty, either administratively or in a court of law. The government of Papua New Guinea must take immediate steps to address police abuse and the impunity that supports it.Our findings should be taken as a call to action by the current administration, and by the government to be elected in 2007.
We found a few notable and encouraging exceptions to what is otherwise an essentially unreformed system. An intergovernmental juvenile justice working group continues to make progress in establishing a juvenile justice system. A few individual police officers have stepped forward to try to put this system in place. Several juvenile magistrates have promised to implement checks on abuses. Outside of the government, some nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) are attempting to address aspects of police violence, for example through educating police about the concerns of men and boys who engage in homosexual conduct. While these efforts have yet to produce demonstrable change in police treatment of children, they hold promise.
These limited gains are extremely fragile and hinge on a few committed individuals. But they also demonstrate that change in this system is possible. Human Rights Watch calls on the government of Papua New Guinea, with the help of its international supporters, to do all it can to entrench these developments.
Serious problems persist. First, officers and commanders continue to enjoy near-total impunity for violence. In 2005, Human Rights Watch identified this factor as key to enabling police violence. This remains the case. While it is not completely unknown for officers to be sanctioned, dismissed, or prosecuted, the frequency of these punishments is so low compared with the scale of violations as to render non-existent any deterrent effect.
Second, the abuses perpetuated by the police contribute to a quickly escalating HIV epidemic. Sexual violence, fear of police that impedes the reporting of sexual violence and other crimes, prison conditions which may facilitate risk behaviors rather than provide information and the means for HIV prevention, harassment and abuse of sex workers and of boys and men who are perceived to be homosexual, as well as the harassment of HIV outreach workers and others carrying condoms, represent serious obstacles to Papua New Guinea's goal of decreasing HIV incidence and stemming the worst AIDS epidemic in the South Pacific.
Extremely poor resourcing is often used to blunt criticisms of police ineffectiveness and violence. Yet this is no excuse for torture and rape. In 2006, police enjoyed much-needed new human and financial resources. Several hundred police officers were recruited, the first in some five years. New monies were allocated for police pensions, salary increases, housing, and other benefits. While far from sufficient to solve the needs of the force, the provision of new resources is all the more reason that police should be held accountable for human rights abuses.
Moreover, other excuses, for example that police need more training, are belied by the facts. Many of the police who have received training in good policing still abuse: as one man put it, "Police know about human rights but they still beat us up." To be effective, training must be accompanied by consequences for failing to follow it.
International donors and others have repeatedly told Human Rights Watch that police violence cannot be addressed because violence is culturally acceptable in Papua New Guinea's and there is no public demand for change in the police force. Our research (and that of others) indicates that this is not true.
Many citizens do face high levels of violence, with some commentators noting that Papua New Guinea's rapid modernization and urbanization has caused increased crime, child sexual abuse, and other forms of violence. This violence is possible in part because so few people of any sort are prosecuted for it, not because ordinary citizens believe this to be an unchallengeable reality. As we noted in our 2005 report, social factors also contribute to police violence, such as the practice of "paybacks" that makes police fear retaliation for reporting on a colleague, an emphasis on "bigmen" that encourages strongarm tactics, and the wantok system that demands loyalty to one's clan or family group over all other obligations. Numerous Papua New Guineans describe police violence as so widespread and entrenched as to be "normal"-that is, what they expect from police.
However, the description of police violence as "normal" should not be understood to mean that Papua New Guineans find it acceptable, desirable, or inevitable, judging from what Papua New Guineans (including individuals in the government trying to change police practices) told Human Rights Watch. As one woman said, referring to the July 2006 rape of a six-year-old girl in a police station: "I hate the police on duty-that we go to them for help and they are turning around and doing that!" Women marched publicly following the beating and gang rape of women during a police raid on a guesthouse in 2004. In 2005, the Catholic Bishops Conference issued strong statements on police violence against children, and the Youth Against Corruption Association held a members forum on police and children. Numerous letters to newspaper editors highlight the issue.
But people become discouraged when complaint mechanisms fail to work and when complaining brings them further trouble. A teacher with fresh bruises around her eyes from a recent mugging described the dilemma for ordinary people: She was scared of the boys on the street, she said, but the police beating them up was clearly not working. And she was too afraid of and disillusioned with the police to report the crime to them. Another solution, she told us, is needed.
We recommend that the government of Papua New Guinea take the following immediate steps. First, the government should strengthen the internal affairs directorate of the police, penalize officers who do not cooperate with it, and investigate alleged abuses and delays in implementing dismissal orders. It should also improve the speed and efficiency with which cases of criminal action by police are sent to the public prosecutor. This problem will not diminish unless perpetrators are prosecuted.
Second, the government should make greater and more creative efforts to improve the capacity of the Ombudsman Commission to address police violence. The Police Commissioner should conclude the memorandum of understanding currently being negotiated with the commission giving the latter oversight over the most serious internal police disciplinary cases. The government should allocate additional resources for the commission to take on human rights cases. In the medium term, the government should consider the creation of a police ombudsman as recommended by the 2004 administrative review of police. A long-term measure could be the establishment of a national human rights commission, which is currently stalled. Papua New Guinea should, in the meantime, make every effort to strengthen existing accountability mechanisms.
Third, the government should strengthen and expand the juvenile justice system throughout the country. The police should better cooperate with the juvenile policy monitoring unit, which in turn should rigorously monitor police treatment of children. The police should also establish and fully support additional juvenile reception centers throughout the country. They should give the final approval necessary to enable the already-trained juvenile court officers to start working, and these officers should become independent advocates for children who are in conflict with the law. The police should also hold shift officers-in-charge to their responsibility for ensuring that children are not physically abused, are separated from adults, and are provided medical care when needed. All magistrates and judges should monitor for police violence, and visit places where children are detained.
Fourth, the government should improve access for victims of police violence to medical, legal, counseling, and other support services.
Finally, international donors should identify ways to support the above recommendations. In particular, donors, some of whom already provide some support for civil society organizations, could better assist groups that are working to address police violence, to educate the public about police responsibilities, and to help victims obtain services and navigate the public complaint process. As is demonstrated by the work of Transparency International-PNG and other groups working on corruption in Papua New Guinea, nongovernmental entities play an important role in supporting and facilitating public outcry.
Police beatings, rape, and torture are not only human rights violations, they betray the public's trust and nullify the protection from violence in the community that citizens should expect from police. Two years after Human Rights Watch first documented these problems, ordinary Papua New Guineans are afraid to walk city streets at night, and, as one woman church member put it, "The police are the last people we would go to if we have a problem!"
Since 2004, Human Rights Watch has conducted investigations into police violence in six locations in Papua New Guinea, interviewed more than 275 people about police violence, and visited 14 places where children are detained (police stations, correctional institutions, and remand centers), as well as police stations that do not have lockup.
In our most recent visit, in August 2006, Human Rights Watch visited Port Moresby, the capital, and Lae, the country's second largest city. (Previously we conducted investigations in Alotau, Goroka, Kokopo, Port Moresby, and Wewak.) We interviewed more than 90 persons, including children, 18- and 19-year-olds who described recent contact with the police when they were children, sex workers, street vendors, and boys and men who have male sexual partners (some of these boys and men identify themselves as gay, others do not). We also interviewed medical personnel and NGO staff working with children in conflict with the law, providing services to victims of police violence, and offering HIV/AIDS prevention and services. We spoke with officials at places where children are detained; juvenile magistrates; members of the government's law and justice sector committee and Lae's juvenile justice working group; staff of the Department of Justice and Attorney General, Correctional Services, and the Ombudsman Commission; the Minister of Justice; the public prosecutor; and representatives of international donors, including the Australian government. Within the police, we spoke with an assistant commissioner, several police station commanders, cell guards, officers responsible for the two newly operational juvenile reception centers, a police prosecutor, officers working in internal investigations units in Lae and Port Moresby, and other officers, as well as the Minister of Police. We visited Lae's Town police station; Port Moresby's Boroko, Nine-Mile, Town, and Waigani police stations; the juvenile wing of Buimo prison; and ErapBoysTown (a post-conviction juvenile detention facility). Where relevant, the report also draws on interviews we conducted in September 2005, right after the release of "Making Their Own Rules," with government officials including with the then-Commissioner of police and with victims of police violence.
Except where indicated in the notes, interviews with victims were conducted alone or with a translator. All children, survivors of police violence, and others who did not wish to be named were given an assurance of anonymity and confidentiality, and this report uses pseudonyms to protect them. Interviewees were provided no remuneration.
The Situation as Reported in 2005
In 2005, Human Rights Watch found that brutal beatings, rape, and torture were widespread police practices in Papua New Guinea. Children reported being kicked and beaten with gun butts, crowbars, wooden batons, fists, rubber hoses, and chairs. Boys described being shot and knifed while in custody. Girls were subjected by police to sexual abuse, including rape-frequently pack rape (gang rape)-in police stations, vehicles, barracks, and other locations. Boys and men also reported sexual abuse by police, including oral and anal rape and attempts to force them to have sex with other detainees, and sexual humiliation. Girls and women told us that they had been forced to chew and swallow condoms.
Although police violence was endemic and adults described similar experiences, we found that children's particular vulnerability and the assumption that boys and young men are "raskols"-members of criminal gangs-made children especially easy targets. Police additionally targeted sex workers (many of whom begin working in their early teens), men and boys perceived to be homosexual, and street vendors.
At police stations, many children were detained for weeks or months in squalid conditions that violated basic international standards. Most children we spoke with said that police provided them with no medical care, even when seriously injured. In addition, children were routinely mixed with adults in police lockup.
Despite the seriousness of the problem, we found little or no willingness on the part of police to investigate, prosecute, or otherwise punish its members. Government mechanisms external to the police that might have held police accountable and provided victims with redress-the public solicitor's office, the Ombudsman Commission, and civil claims against the state-were not effective in diminishing police violence.
Papua New Guinea's Legal Obligations
Papua New Guinea's international legal obligations prohibit torture; cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment; rape; and sexual assault. The Convention on the Rights of the Child, which Papua New Guinea ratified in 1993, states that "No child shall be subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment." Violence in custody by police or other detainees also violates a child's right under the Convention on the Rights of the Child to protection from "all forms of physical or mental violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation, including sexual abuse, while in the care of parent(s), legal guardian(s) or any other person who has the care of the child." The Constitution of Papua New Guinea similarly prohibits "torture (whether physical or mental), or . . . treatment or punishment that is cruel or otherwise inhuman, or is inconsistent with respect for the inherent dignity of the human person."
By ratifying the U.N. Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) in 1995, Papua New Guinea agreed to protect women and girls from sexual and other forms of gender-based violence perpetrated by state agents and private actors alike. As part of its obligation to prevent violence against women, the government is required to ensure that female victims of violence have access to an effective remedy for the violation of their rights. The Convention on the Rights of the Child also establishes girls' right to protection from discrimination based on sex and their right to equal protection before the law.
International law requires that children be detained only as a measure of last resort, for the shortest appropriate period of time. The best interests of the child must be a primary consideration. When they are detained, children must be provided adequate medical care and be separated from adults, under both international standards and Papua New Guinea's laws.
In 2006, Human Rights Watch again found a clear pattern of police violence, including sexual violence. Police also took victims' money or possessions.
Police continue to target female sex workers and men and boys perceived to be homosexual for violence and extortion (although one NGO reported some improvements on the part of individual officers in 2006). Police are able to do so in part because the can threaten arrest using laws criminalizing homosexual conduct and certain forms of sex work, and because social stigma against homosexuality and sex work shields police from public outrage. Men and boys with male sexual partners appear to be especially targeted when they appear effeminate or have reputations for homosexual conduct: while many do not identify as gay, their perceived sexual behavior makes them regular targets of police abuse.
Beatings, Shootings, and Excessive Force
Our research in Lae and Port Moresby in 2006 revealed continued police use of excessive force. In some cases our research revealed instances of torture. These acts take place during encounters in the community, in the course of arrest, during transport to the station, and during interrogation, for the purposes of on-the-spot punishment, to extract confessions, or for sheer abuse of power.
Children in Conflict with the Law
In 2006 Human Rights Watch interviewed 16 children and persons who were children at the time of the incidents recounted who said that police had recently beaten or otherwise physically abused them. Although we also interviewed several children who said they were not mistreated upon arrest, as in 2005, the pattern of testimonies by children and professionals working with them indicate that most children who are arrested face abuse at the hands of police. One of the most well-publicized recent cases in which police opened fire on unarmed schoolboys in Enga province in October 2005 is discussed in section VI, below. A person who works closely with detained children told us that, based on personal experience,
About half of the juveniles are abused by the cops. Mostly they are taken in for stealing and . . . they don't go easy on them. . . . I see bruises, black eyes, torn shorts. . . . It's normal-it's just part of what police do to people who are against the law. It's seen as normal now because it's been done over the years. They do it automatically. That's why people really freak out when they see the police pull up because they think: they will bash me up.
The story of Lucas P., age 17, was typical (like all children in this report, his real name is not used). He told us that police task force officers caught him in Lae in September 2005 when he was about to steal something from a car. There were 12 officers, he said, and they dragged him to the task force vehicle:
They hit me with a belt and the butt of a gun. I was in the middle and the guys hit me from all sides. They asked me to name the other boys that I was working with, but I was working alone so I didn't name anyone. They kept beating me and demanding that I say their names. They said, "If you don't tell us, we will fuck you up the ass."
Then they took him to the main wharf at around 6 p.m. He said,
They made me jump in the ocean. The salt water was very painful because of the cuts from the beating. They just let me go afterwards and didn't charge me with anything. They even gave me my billum [string bag] back. They warned me that if they catch me again, they will cut off an arm or leg.
Wilfred N. told us that six mobile squad members arrested him in mid-2005 in Lae, after a robbery. "They beat me on the forehead with a gun butt [indicating his forehead just above his right eyebrow]-it cut through the skin." The officers took him to Chinatown police station and then to Town police station, where the Criminal Investigations Division (CID) questioned him. He recounted, "During my questioning by the CID, I was hit because they wanted me to confess. But I didn't do it so I refused to confess. I was hit with a metal bar from a homemade gun inside the Town station. I was hit on the head."
Albert L., age 15 or 16, said he was arrested in late December 2005 and taken to LaeTown police station and interrogated by the CID: "They were kicking me with their boots. They used the barrel of their gun. They said they would take me up to the river and kill me and throw me into the water. . . . They used an iron on my leg, the sharp edge. . . . They said, 'Like in the movies we'll hang you with a rope.' . . . Because they were threatening me and beating me, I was afraid for my life, so I said I did it, because I was scared."
Johnny I., who said he was 18 but who looked much younger, told us that when police officers caught him trying to steal a tire in March 2006, they beat him on the head with tree branches. Then they forced him to stand with the wheel on his wounded head and tried to make him swallow a bolt from the wheel, which he was unable to do: "When they put the wheel on my head I thought my brain had died. I didn't feel anything. The bolt on the wheel-they made me put it in my mouth and swallow. It was that big [indicates water bottle cap]. I couldn't do it. They made fun of me and were laughing at me."
Peter O. told us that task force police beat him and his friends with a fan belt and gun barrels on the beach in Lae in 2004 when he was 17 years old. One gun went off, he said, and shot him in the leg (he showed us a large scar on his calf). Then the police ran them off without arresting them: "They ordered us to run in the middle of the road and were chasing us in their vehicle and we were falling down and scratching ourselves. I was dragging my leg. The muscle was cramped and I couldn't move it. Blood was running down my leg."
Other boys in Lae and Port Moresby told us similar stories in 2006.
Police often use beatings and other forms of violence and humiliation to administer on-the-spot punishment for sex work. This is particularly evident in Lae during police raids on the old airstrip near the center of town, where sex work occurs openly. Homeless individuals live in some parts of the area; in other parts, people go there during the day but sleep elsewhere. Women, girls, and men described being beaten and robbed in police raids. The account of 16-year-old Elizabeth H. of a raid in May 2006 is typical:
We were all fast asleep. They [police] came straight to me and hit me on the leg. I though it was a client and I swore. They said, "You swore." I opened my eyes and saw the task force. They started belting the shit out of me. Then they started beating everyone. I had bruises on my lower back and a swollen arm. They used this thing they carry around-a black belt [fan belt]. They next day they did the same thing-came and belted the boys. They fought back. The task force shot one boy in the leg and he went to the hospital. I saw them shoot him-he's also from [village name omitted]. Now he is not walking properly.
Other women described police beating them with gun butts, forcing men and boys to do push-ups, and stealing their money. "The police, when they go in, don't have betel nut to chew, don't have money, so they can belt us up and take money or our things like a robbery," a 22-year-old woman said. Women and girls in Lae told us they were occasionally arrested, but arrest does not appear to be a main purpose of the raids.
Police continue to use violence against and extort money from street vendors, who typically sell betel nut and cigarettes. Human Rights Watch spoke with several street vendors in Lae in 2006 who described such incidents. If and where street vending should be legal has been the topic of considerable public debate. While the government has a right to regulate street vending, persons violating city ordinances must be treated in accordance with the law. They should not be subjected to cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment, arbitrary detention, and other human rights violations. As explained in Human Rights Watch's earlier report, laws restricting street vending disproportionately affect women and girls, who already face discrimination in other areas of employment.
Human Rights Watch continued to collect evidence of police using sexual violence against females and males, including gang (pack) rape, in 2005 and 2006. Not surprisingly, cases often involved opportunistic abuses of power: women and girls are especially vulnerable when they are detained in police cells, or when they are engaged in sex work and can be threatened with arrest. But women and girls also told us that any contact at all with police put them at risk. "When I see any cop car, I walk off. I'm scared," said a woman who told us she was raped by a policeman in a Port Moresby police station in August 2005. "I don't trust any cop nowadays. I don't accept anything from them because they are going to come for my body in the end."
NGO case workers and others again confirmed that police especially target young girls, including sex workers who may be as young as 12 or 13, for rape. An HIV/AIDS educator told us that "[i]f the police see a young girl, they don't want to use condoms with them because they are so young. If they are older, they suspect they have been working a long time, so they wear a condom."
In 2005 and 2006, two allegations of police rape of very young girls drew widespread public outrage. In July 2005, Inspector Gideon Kaugi, a senior police prosecutor, was alleged to have raped the seven-year-old daughter of another officer on police premises in Port Moresby. The girl died of a brain tumor in February 2006, and the district court dismissed the case for lack of evidence in August.
On July 18, 2006, a reserve policeman sexually assaulted a six-year-old girl in Chinatown police station in Lae when her mother left her there while buying food at a nearby store. The girl's mother told journalists that she had originally gone to the station to make a domestic violence complaint but found the officer who attended her to be unhelpful. According to professionals who treated the girl, medical evidence was consistent with penetration; the girl told her mother that the policeman called her into an office, took off her clothes, and molested her. Following public protest, police arrested and charged the man. When Human Rights Watch visited both Buimo prison and Town police station in Lae on August 8, 2006, officials at each place claimed that the man was not there but was detained in the other location.
Another incident in 2006 in Lae, involving a16-year-old girl, is described below (see "Targeting Crime Victims").
Human Rights Watch also interviewed two women in Port Moresby who said that police raped them in 2005. One woman described what happened one night around late July 2005:
He [the police officer] asked me for sex and I said, "No, I just want to go home." He grabbed my collar and put a pistol to my head. He said, "If you don't have sex with me, I will shoot you." Then he bashed me up. He got a beer bottle, and he had a pistol in the other hand. He ordered me-we had sex-what could I do? . . . My lips were split. The side of my face and eye was swollen up. He put a pistol there as if I were a criminal! Just to have sex!
Professionals who work with female victims of sexual violence, speaking to us in August 2006, also confirmed having cases of women and girls who had been raped by police.
Human Rights Watch interviewed in 2005 and 2006 three men who engage in homosexual activity who said police had forced them to have oral and anal sex with them and had also gang raped them.
Government services for victims of sexual violence, including health care, counseling, and other forms of support remain difficult or impossible to access or are of poor quality, especially outside of urban areas.
Sexual Abuse by Guards at Buimo Prison in January 2006
An especially egregious example of abuse of detained children occurred on January 15, 2006, when corrections officers at Buimo prison in Lae beat and sexually abused boys by forcing them to have anal sex with each other in the institution's reception center. Although this case concerns abuse by correctional officers, not police, it is highlighted because it illustrates both how widespread the problem of violence against children in custody is and the failure to punish officials responsible. It is reminiscent of cases involving police mentioned in Human Rights Watch's 2005 report.
Human Rights Watch spoke with correctional officials working at Buimo prison at the time, an eyewitness, and the Deputy Commissioner of Correctional services about the case. We heard different explanations for the officers' motives: that younger boys had complained about rape by older boys and officers were allowing the younger boys to "pay back" their rapists, or that the officers caught boys having sex in the dormitory and were punishing them. Regardless, all agree that the officers beat and forced the boys to have anal sex.
The day after the incident, detainees at Buimo prison went on hunger strike in protest; they also communicated with the press and the local police. Acting Commander Judy Tara, who had recently undergone juvenile justice training, told journalists a few days later that she "met with the prisoners," that "things have returned to normal," and that an internal investigation was ongoing. Nevertheless, almost eight months later, the officers continued to work at the prison, according to correctional officials, who said that the officers had been disciplined in some (unspecified) fashion, a claim that press reports challenge.
Targeting Crime Victims
Now when I see one of them [a police officer], instead of going for help, I run and hide. I don't want to be caught another time with them.
-Twenty-year-old gay man gang raped by police when he was 12 or 13years old, Port Moresby, September 3, 2005
Poor police response to gender-based violence, including domestic violence, is well documented. Compounding the harm, fear of sexual violence by the police themselves deters victims of all types of crime from going to the police for help. While many people we spoke with told us police refused to help them or asked for sex or money, sex workers and men and boys who are perceived to be homosexual in particular reported that they cannot turn to police for protection from other forms of violence.
In 2006, women, girls, and boys described instances in which police asked them for sex when they went to report a crime. For example, Elizabeth H., age 16, said that two police officers had recently demanded sex from her when she went to the station to make a complaint: "I felt scared. . . They used a condom and had sex with me. They took turns."
Monica K., age 19, described what happened around June 2006, when she went to complain at Lae's Town police station about being robbed on the street. "One policeman took me into his office. He asked me for sex. I opened the door and said I didn't want to. So he shouted at me, 'If I see you on the street I will really belt you.' He wanted to have sex in his office."
A 16-year-old boy who now describes himself as gay told us,
When I was about 12, I went to the police when my dad was bashing me. They said, "Suck our dicks and we'll help you." They said, "Your mom and your dad are your first teachers. You have to go back and let them bash you and learn from it. If you want us to come, we'll fuck you first."
Many people are afraid to approach the police for any reason at all. A police officer at the juvenile reception center in Lae told us, "Some parents are afraid to come to the police station and find out why their child is locked up." The wife of a police officer told us that her husband, who was fed up with how police treated women, "says to keep away from police." A woman who was asked for sex by police told us: "We are scared to talk to the police because when we go to them to ask for help, they ask for sex. Especially [of] the young girls. So we don't feel safe going to the police station for help."
Children continue to be detained with adults in poor conditions and denied medical care in police lockup. Conditions in Lae's Town police station and Port Moresby's Boroko station were similar to those we have seen elsewhere in the country, and, although each had enough cells to keep children separate, this was not being done when we visited.
Johnny I.'s description of Lae's Town police station, where he was detained in March 2006, was typical:
I was there for five days breathing the fumes from the toilet. During that time I was very sick. . . . In the cell there was tap water but no blanket or mosquito net. There were other people-some big men, some old men, some young men, some [ages] 10, 12.
In prison and other juvenile institutions, children awaiting trial are mixed with those already convicted. Poor conditions are especially harsh in light of the fact that children are not exempt from the phenomenon that detainees may face months and even years awaiting trial.
Detention of Children with Adults
Detaining children with adults in police lockup places them at risk of rape, other forms of violence, and criminal socialization. Although Human Rights Watch did find a few instances in which children were separated from adults in both Lae and Port Moresby, that remains the exception, not the rule.
In August 2006, when Human Rights Watch visited Lae's Town police station and Port Moresby's Boroko police station, we found boys in the same cells as adult men in both; even the advance notice we gave of our visit had not motivated station officers to remedy this. (Boroko police station houses the Port Moresby juvenile reception centre, with two cells intended to remove children entirely from the adult lockup area, but these were not in use when we visited-see also below, section VI.) In Lae's Town police station, children and adults appeared to be completely mixed in five unlocked cells that were open to a secure corridor and shower area. After we arrived, we were asked to wait while water was swept out of the area and detainees were ordered into the cells, which remained unlocked. In the cell designated for juveniles, we found 12 detainees, ranging from boys as young as 13 years old to adult men in their twenties.
In Boroko police station, we found one boy in a cell full of adult men who said he was 14 or 15 years old. We also found one 16-year-old boy alone in a separate cell and another 16-year-old boy in the locked corridor with women detainees. When we asked the guard in charge of the cells why the latter two boys were not with the others, he told us that the boy in the cell by himself was there because he was under arrest for "a very serious criminal case . . . . The others are for minor offenses." The boy in the corridor was there because he was sick, the guard said, but also because he was very small. However, when asked whether children were usually separated from adults, he told us they were not. "We put everybody inside," he explained. "This is what we normally do."
The testimony of children was consistent with the practice we saw in the stations. For example, Nathan B., age 16, said he was detained in Boroko police station with 17 others, "some adults and some juveniles, even some middle-aged men," on August 13, 2006. Three boys in their mid-teens told us they were detained in the same cell as adults in Lae's Town police stationin early 2006.
The mixing of boys with adult men in detention places them at risk of sexual assault and other forms of violence by older detainees. This is shown by cases documented in our 2005 report, and by cases such as that of Gari M., age 16, who described being detained for one month in Boroko police station with adults when he was 13 years old:
Some of the boys were bashed up, especially the little ones who were there for pickpocketing. They would get belted up and raped anally. There were two little boys who came into my cell-they were sexually abused.
Because his arm was severely injured by police who beat him with an iron rod, he said, he was unable to intervene:
I was in pain-I couldn't do anything. But I was watching. It was the bigger boys-I didn't go against them because they would have bashed me up. They were maybe 24, maybe 30 years old. The little boys were 12 or 13. I knew other big boys there and they protected me.
Human Rights Watch also heard reports of boys raping other boys in Bomana prison, indicating a larger failure to protect children from sexual violence in detention.
It is often claimed that children are not separated from adults because of a lack of infrastructure. However, in only one of the six places that Human Rights Watch has investigated since 2004-Wewak-was there only one cell (even in Wewak other cells existed, but had broken toilets so the cells were out of use). In addition, in Morobe province at least three stations outside of the provincial capital, including Wau and Bulolo, have separate areas that could be used for children, the provincial police commander told us. Indeed, then-Police Commissioner Sam Inguba, in response to Human Rights Watch's 2005 report, told journalists that police have "categorized cell blocks for juveniles, female adult offenders and hardcore criminals in major police stations around the country." In areas that truly lack separate areas for children, diversion, rather than detention, may be the appropriate alternative (see also below, section VI).
Nor can it be claimed that police do not know that children and adults must be separated. With the exception of the guard at Boroko police station, police station commanders and individual officers we spoke with consistently told us they knew the rule. According to the officer who was in charge of the juvenile reception center in LaeTown police station, "We have strict instructions about the processing of juveniles. We are not supposed to put juveniles into [adult] cells." Where guards truly do not know the rule, the shift officer-in-charge, who is responsible for all juvenile matters, should inform them and ensure that separation occurs.
Although confusion about the proper handling of youths close to age 18 might be expected because many boys do not know their exact ages, we found men who were and looked much older than 18 mixed with boys much younger, indicating that confusion about age is not the primary problem.
Failure to Provide Children with Medical Care
In 2004, we found that police provided most detainees with no medical care, even when they were seriously injured, and irrespective of whether illness or injury derived from abuse police had themselves inflicted. In some instances police intentionally withheld or delayed medical care as additional punishment. In other cases police delayed bringing children to court to let swelling go down to cover up what police had done to them. In 2006, we spoke with several boys who said they had not been provided with needed medical care in police lockup in Lae. As mentioned above, at Boroko police station we found one boy lying on a bench with women detainees, covered with a shirt, almost unable to speak. The women told us that he had been there for three days-they were concerned that he had malaria. The guard there said that there had not been transport to take the boy to the hospital. This was simply not true: several vehicles were available when we visited, including the juvenile policy monitoring unit's truck, which is only supposed to be used for the unit's work with children.
In some cases, boys said they first got basic medical care when transferred to prison. The Deputy Commissioner of Correctional Services told us that they now look for and record injuries that detainees arrive with from police custody, to avoid being blamed for them.
It's a normal thing to us, police beating us up, telling us to chew condoms. It's day to day. They come again, belt us.
-Female sex worker, Lae, August 6, 2006
Despite its being a young epidemic, Papua New Guinea has 90 percent of all HIV infections reported in the Oceania region to date outside of Australia and New Zealand. As many as 140,000 people-including 4.4 percent of adults ages 15-49-were living with HIV/AIDS in Papua New Guinea in 2005. The epidemic is considered generalized in the population, and prevalence rates are as high as 30 percent in some areas, according to the government. Access to antiretroviral therapy is limited, and few have the information or tools to protect themselves from infection. Violence and discrimination against women and girls likely fuels the growing epidemic; for example domestic violence makes it difficult for women and girls to negotiate safe sexual practices or to seek treatment. People living with HIV/AIDS may face violence and discrimination in their communities.
The types of abuses we report above-sexual violence, fear of police that impedes the reporting of sexual violence and other crime, and prison conditions that may facilitate risk behaviors rather than provide information and the means for HIV prevention-are not only problems in themselves; they also undermine HIV/AIDS prevention work and contribute to the spread of HIV in Papua New Guinea. Sexual abuse increases the risk of HIV transmission. Violence and stigmatization of sex workers and men and boys who engage in homosexual conduct drives these persons underground and away from information on HIV prevention and health services. Police harassment for carrying condoms, described below, may also deter their use.
Harassment for Possessing Condoms
Police in several areas have received training on HIV/AIDS, and some police stations in Lae and Port Moresby have condoms available in conjunction with an NGO HIV/AIDS awareness project.
However, women and men still described being harassed by police in 2005 and 2006 for carrying condoms. Several persons reported being forced to chew, swallow, or inflate condoms. These actions by police and their reported accompanying comments suggest that they see condoms as implicated in the transmission of HIV, rather than as tools for its prevention, and an indication of promiscuity.
A man who distributes condoms as part of an NGO HIV/AIDS outreach program described an encounter with police in Horsecamp settlement in Port Moresby in April 2005. The police stopped him at around 9:30 in the morning, he said, searched his bag, and found condoms inside. He explained that he was working with the NGO, but they slapped him in the face and forced him to eat three of the condoms and the plastic wrappers. "I did it because I was so scared," he told us.
One of them told me, "I'll take my dick out and you put that condom on it." I had tears running down my face. They said, "We caught you red-handed so that's why you are crying." . . .
They told me to run off and they shot overhead. I almost fell in a drain.
I had an upset stomach for three days. I didn't shit for three days. My mother said to swallow soap and that worked. . . .
They should understand that condoms are there for our protection!
Another man described a raid on the old Lae airstrip in May 2006, carried out by mobile squad officers in dark blue uniforms:
They checked our billums [string bags] and bags and saw condoms and said, "What do you do with this?" They came out and started to belt us up. I tried to explain but they said, "You are encouraging people to have sex. This condom is unsafe."
Fourothermen and women in Lae also described police harassing them for carrying condoms, including forcing them to chew, swallow, or inflate condoms. "I've seen it with my own eyes- police guys making women blow [up] condoms," one woman said. "I had to [do it]. This was around Christmas last year ."
Staff of one NGO report that in Lae some police officers have improved their behavior, following condom distribution and education. One peer educator described the following encounter in February 2006 to illustrate this:
I was heading home after collecting condoms from the office. I was searched by police because they were doing a general search for guns. One officer checked my bag. He found the condoms and the wooden penis for demonstrations, and accused me of spreading HIV. He slapped me on the side of the face, but the other officer who was there argued with him and said to stop, that she is doing good work. The first officer apologized and so in the end it was OK.
In contrast, another HIV/AIDS educator described trying to help a sex worker file a complaint with police in November 2005. The woman had been beaten up by a client when she refused to have sex without a condom. The HIV/AIDS educator went with her to Lae's Town police station. "The police made a joke, laughing, saying, 'You should have let him have sex with you because he is paying you a lot of money,'" she said. "I scolded them and told them to stop, but they didn't do any follow up on the beating. They said, 'You are promoting condoms and it brings HIV.'"
The testimony of another Lae woman who said she was forced to chew condoms in 2003 illustrates the long-term effects of harassment, even if individual officers change their behavior. "When we see the police, we throw the condoms away because we know that they will make us chew them because it happened before," she said. In July 2006, she told us, police arrested her in a raid on the old airstrip, but an officer at the station intervened and had her and the other women arrested with her released. The officer also advised them not to throw their condoms away "because it's your right. When the police do that, you tell me."
Prison staff members in Papua New Guinea do not distribute condoms, even though sex and sexual violence are common in prisons.
Accountability for police violence is critical to providing victims with justice and to preventing future abuse, by removing offending officers from the force and by deterring others. The occasional dismissal and prosecution does occur in Papua New Guinea. However, when compared with the scope of the problem, it is very rare for police who use excessive force, torture, and rape to face punishment either through internal police disciplinary procedures or in a court of law. As Human Rights Watch found in 2005, the extensive human rights training that police have received is rendered in large part ineffective by the failure to require them to follow it. In this climate, good police officers are left demoralized, marginalized, and at risk of retaliation for trying to hold other officers accountable.
A useful guide for reform remains the as yet-unimplemented recommendations of the 2004 administrative review of police regarding accountability, discussed in our 2005 report. These include enforcement of existing disciplinary codes; reform of mobile squads, task forces, reserve and auxiliary police; and improving police response todomestic violence and sex abuse cases.
While the police force itself should be the first place abusive police officers face sanction, other bodies in the justice system and the wider government have responsibility as well. These include the judiciary and magisterial service, the Ombudsman Commission, Parliament, and the Prime Minister.
Response of High-Level Government Officials to Evidence of Police Abuse
Following the release of Human Rights Watch's 2005 report, some government officials spoke publicly about police violence. Then-Minister of Police Bire Kimisopa (now Minister of Justice), who had already commissioned the 2004 administrative review of police highlighting problems with the force, said, "I'm aware of instances of female offenders in custody being raped. That's something, you know, we're not proud of. That's something we need to eradicate within the PNG force now." The Minister continued to speak out following police shootings of unarmed schoolboys in late 2005 (see below). He also ordered an investigation into the incident that resulted in the arrest of two officers (the arrest was effected only following armed resistance from local police, which highlights the capital's broader struggle to exercise command and control in the provinces).
But public denial by other senior officials mitigated this progress. In September 2005, then-Commissioner of Police Sam Inguba denied that children were detained with adults in police lockup, and stated that abusive officers were prosecuted. "Understandably, this is because they are only human. Human beings get frustrated especially when they are constantly exposed to hostilities in their line of duties," he said. In 2006, Human Rights Watch heard from the current Minister of Police Alphonse Willie and other police officials this same excuse: that police beat detainees because they were frustrated or angry.
Prime Minister Sir MichaelSomare, when asked about police violence against children around the same time, said that although there were some instances, he had seen the same things and worse in Australia.
Compounding the problem, turmoil in police leadership in 2006 cast doubt on government commitment to implement real reform in advance of the parliamentary elections due in 2007. In April, Prime Minister Somare replaced Kimisopa with Alphonse Willie as Police Minister (various other ministers were also removed). In September, the Commissioner of Police was arrested and charged with abuse of office and perverting the course of justice over a fraud investigation; the charges were later dropped. Other high-level police officials were charged soon after, and a senior officer was serving as acting commissioner at the time of writing.
The new Police Minister, Alphonse Willie, seemed unfamiliar with even the well-publicized cases of police abuse as of August, and told Human Rights Watch that human rights problems were "not too big in scope." When asked about implementation of the 2004 administrative review, the Minister told us that the priorities were police salaries, housing, maintenance, barracks, and new uniforms (without the recommended name tags). Money was, in fact, allocated for these purposes in a supplementary budget in mid-August 2006. After pay and housing, the Minister said, the next priority was police vehicles. Nowhere on his agenda were the administrative review's recommendations regarding police discipline and efficiency. Assistant Police Commissioner Jim Andrews told Human Rights Watch, however, that they did plan to disband reserve and auxiliary police and rehire them on two-year contracts.
Thus, at present, implementation of the administrative review appears stalled at the point of improving police resources-an important step but one that means little if not accompanied by measures to improve performance and discipline.
Police Failure to Discipline and Prosecute
In 2005, Human Rights Watch found that police are almost never punished for excessive force, rape, and torture. Even when public outcry spurs an arrest or charges, cases may never be referred to the public prosecutor; if they are, they may face dismissal in court as the result of poor police investigation. In 2006, little appears to have changed.
Several high-profile cases illustrate how unlikely it is that police who commit even flagrant abuses will face justice either through internal police disciplinary procedures or in a court of law.
Police Shootings of Schoolboys in EngaProvince
On October 31, 2005, in Porgera valley in Enga province, police opened fire on school premises into a group of students, some reportedly as young as age 12, who threw rocks when police tried to arrest their schoolmaster. At least one person, Luke Tarakali, died and at least 21were injured, three seriously.
Students studying inside the school were among those injured. A 15-year-old boy told an interviewer several months afterwards:
I was doing my mock exam when we heard the first shot fired, and all of a sudden I just saw my friend sitting next to me fall on the floor, and then I saw his leg was bleeding, and then I realized that something went wrong. Then I ran outside, and I saw that all the kids were running around, and then to my surprise I saw the police.
Then-Minister of Police Bire Kimisopa spoke strongly about the incident and sent in an investigatory team that arrested two officers. An officer and a commander were charged with willful and attempted murder in January 2006 and released on bail. As of August 2006, these cases had not been sent to the public prosecutor.
Police Beatings and Gang Rape of Women and Girls in Raid on the Three-Mile Guesthouse, Port Moresby
On March 12, 2004, mobile squad officers beat and gang raped women and girls during a raid on the Three-Mile Guesthouse in Port Moresby and during their detention at Boroko police station. Human Rights Watch published extensive details about the case in 2005 based on police charging documents naming some of the officers involved, 21 statements from the women and girls made shortly after the incident and kept on file by the National AIDS Council, our individual interviews with eyewitnesses, and other evidence.
Despite the unusual amount of information available, then-Police Commissioner Sam Inguba responded to Human Rights Watch's 2005 report saying that, "investigators could not probe the allegation because they needed to deal with them on a case-by-case basis. These people complained as a group and were asked to come in one by one to substantiate their allegations but no one turned up." According to the police, no officers involved had been disciplined or prosecuted at the time of writing.
Internal Disciplinary Sanctions and Criminal Prosecutions
Dismissals and criminal prosecutions of offending officers occasionally occur, although it is not clear how often these are actually for violence. In 2006, the Commissioner of Police refused to allow the police internal affairs directorate to speak with Human Rights Watch. However, in September 2005, in response to Human Rights Watch's findings that police rarely face administrative or criminal sanctions for violence, then-Police Commissioner Inguba told journalists that since 2002, 571 cases of police brutality had been reported and more than 148 officers dismissed as a result. Fifty-two cases were still pending, he said. (The numbers given to Human Rights Watch by the police internal affairs department in 2004 covering a shorter period of time suggest that the statistics given by the police commissioner may represent all dismissals from 2002 to 2005, and not just those for brutality.)
In light of how widespread police violence is and given the lack of accountability for particularly egregious cases investigated by Human Rights Watch-both unknown and well-publicized-the statistics on internal police discipline support our finding that most abuses go unpunished.
Problems occur at each step in the process, beginning with reporting abuses. As illustrated by Inguba's comments on the Three-Mile Guesthouse case, above, high-level officials characterized the problem to Human Rights Watch as the fault of victims who fail to report or aggressively pursue disciplinary complaints: Police Minister Willie told Human Rights Watch that the problem lay in victims failing to report abuses to "higher powers," and when abuse is reported, he said, "disciplinary action has taken place." But individuals who have attempted to make complaints, the service providers who have accompanied them, and even individual officers who have referred victims to internal affairs units, told Human Rights Watch that it was very difficult to make complaints and, if one was made, it almost never got results. Worse, as noted above, some women and girls are laughed at, ignored, and asked for sex.
The story of the woman raped by a police officer in July 2005 (described above in section III) is illustrative. With the help of an NGO,she reported the rape to a commander at a Port Moresby police station, whom she believed was the boss of the officer who raped her (she was afraid for us to name the station). The commander, she said, took her into a dark office and "asked for sexual favors." He said, "If I help you, you have to do me a favor." After that, she said,
I didn't go back. I didn't want to go back by myself because I know something will happen. The feeling is still in me. There's nobody in there to help us. . . . If the commander is doing that, then we have to go to his commander, and I think he will do the same thing so I think there is no one to see. . . . We have the right to report police brutality, but if we go there, there is no one to help us.
Like this woman, many have simply given up seeking redress or accountability, calculating that it is not worth the time or risk. The administrative review of police similarly found in 2004 that "public confidence in the effectiveness of current disciplinary review machinery is at such a low level that complaints against the police are no longer reported." A young woman vendor whose cigarettes were taken by police explained why she did not report the incident: "I really wanted to go, but after a couple of times [in the past] when the police didn't help me, I said, what's the point? They won't help. When we go and ask for help they ask for sex-this is why I don't go because I don't want to have sex with them."
To improve public reporting, police must first provide victims with a timely and fair response, as well as provide protection from retaliation. In Lae, Human Rights Watch heard of some efforts to make the internal investigations unit more accessible to victims: the office conducted some public outreach to inform people about the process, and has a back entrance to the office so that complainants do not have to go to the police station front counter. Internal investigation units should do more to reach children, who usually have more difficulty than adults making complaints, and women and girls who face additional barriers to making complaints of rape and sexual assault.
Some persons do succeed in registering complaints. Human Rights Watch reviewed the log book for complaints made against police in the National Capital District and saw serious allegations: "police shooting," rape, assault, robbery. Staff of the internal investigations unit for the National Capital District told us that 45 cases had been registered from January through July 2006 and that 121 cases were registered in 2005 (these represent all cases registered, not only for violence).The head of internal affairs in Lae told us that most complaints against police were for "stealing, unlawful assault, drinking, and misappropriation of vehicles." His office had more than 50 complaints in 2005, he told us.
However, as we documented in 2005, registering a case is no guarantee that an internal investigations unit will actively pursue it. A few NGOs report more success in getting police to respond if they accompany victims and persistently follow up on the case; even then, cases have been lost or extensively delayed. Internal investigations unit staff also told us they needed more resources-such as transportation and cameras-to do their jobs properly.
When the internal investigations unit does conclude an investigation and the internal affairs directorate determines that sanctions are warranted, it must wait for the Police Commissioner's final decision about whether they should be imposed. Even if the Commissioner approves a penalty such as suspension or dismissal, provincial police officials, who are responsible for imposing it, may simply fail to do so.
Human Rights Watch was not able to obtain more data on criminal prosecutions in 2005 or 2006 for police violence, either from the police or the pubic prosecutor. A staff member of the internal investigations unit for the National Capital District told us that three cases in 2006 had resulted in criminal charges (not necessarily for violence) but that they were still investigating the cases. However, when asked about the outcome of criminal cases he has worked on, he told us that in the roughly eight years he had worked in the office, he had never known a police officer to be sent to jail.
New Police Procedures for Dealing with Children
Papua New Guinea's juvenile justice system continued to develop in 2005 and 2006 under the direction of an interagency juvenile justice working group. Reception centers for processing children began operating in police stations in Port Moresby and Lae. Police established a small unit to divert children from the formal justice system and monitor their treatment by police. A handbook on the police juvenile justice policy and protocols was published and launched in October 2006. While these developments have yet to produce widespread change in police behavior, they hold promise.
As of August 2006, juvenile reception centers were operating in both Port Moresby and Lae, with the intention that all children arrested in each city would be brought to these centers for diversion or processing. The centers are small buildings on the grounds of a police station, Boroko station in Port Moresby and Town station in Lae. According to the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), approximately 60 percent of juvenile arrests take place in these two cities; therefore the centers should cover the majority of children arrested in the country.
In Port Moresby, the police also began setting up the juvenile policy monitoring unit in October 2005. As its name suggests, the unit is intended to monitor implementation of the National Police Juvenile Policy for children, including diversion from formal criminal charges, separation from adults in lockup, and police violence. As of October 2006, two police officers (one part-time) operated out of the juvenile reception center in Boroko station with a designated vehicle, donated by UNICEF.
Although the unit does not keep formal records of its interventions, the staff told us that in the first 10 months of operations, they had intervened to divert children from formal charges. However, they also said they had not encountered cases of children physically or sexually abused by police, suggesting-given our quite different findings-that they are not monitoring for police violence. All children arrested in Port Moresby are supposed to be brought to Boroko stations' juvenile reception center, where the unit would be in a position to directly oversee them, but this does not always happen: one of the officers visits other stations periodically to look for children, although not on a particular schedule, and they otherwise rely on calling police stations to ask if children are there. The officers also log children's names and charges, a step towards improved data collection on children in conflict with the law. In terms of monitoring separation from adults, we noted that the reception center contains two rooms intended to remove children entirely from the adult lockup area, but they were not being used for this purpose as of August 2006. As described above in section IV, when Human Rights Watch visited Boroko cells immediately after interviewing juvenile policy monitoring unit staff, we found a boy detained with adults.
According to others closely linked with the unit's work, the unit has struggled to obtain police cooperation and, after getting no results from filing formal complaints about problems, has since resorted to persuasion and "mentoring."
The police officer who staffs the Lae juvenile reception center has similar responsibilities. Unlike in Port Moresby, Lae has only one station with a lockup-Town police station where the reception center is also located. This fact makes it more likely that the officer will have access to children who are detained, and we were told that this center had worked effectively in the two months it operated prior to our visit. The officer in charge of Lae's reception center told us that she checks the cells on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and gave examples of successful interventions to separate children from adults in police lockup and in Buimo prison, and to release arrested children to their parents. However, while we were in Lae, this officer was sent to teach at Bomana police college for six months, and an officer of a lower rank was left in charge. It remains to be seen how this will affect the center's operation. When we visited the police lockup several days after she left, we did find children detained with adults.
In addition to these measures, juvenile court officers, provided for under the Juvenile Courts Act, should also be in place to monitor police treatment of children. This has not happened. Although some 15 volunteers were trained in 2004 and commissioned in 2005, they were never given final approval (gazetted) by police and have not begun working. Indeed, in Port Moresby, when individual volunteer juvenile court officers have tried to access children at certain police stations, police have denied them access on the grounds that they are not gazetted and lack official identification. In the place of volunteer juvenile court officers, probation officers attend some juvenile court procedures, but they are not the advocates for children envisioned by the act.
A member of Lae's juvenile justice working group also told us he had checked the cells in Lae for children detained with adults, although it was not clear how often he did this.
Responsibility of Magistrates, Judges, and the Ombudsman Commission
Juvenile magistrates, judges, and the Ombudsman Commission each have a role in monitoring for police violence and conditions under which children are detained. Several individuals have taken steps to fulfill these obligations, but monitoring, including regular follow up, needs to become far more frequent and comprehensive.
Magistrates and Judges
Formal juvenile courts are now operating in seven sites around the country, with two more planned for 2006. Juvenile magistrates hear all but the most serious cases against children. Since 2004, juvenile magistrates have had a Juvenile Court Protocol that outlines procedures for handling children's cases. National court judges handle particularly serious cases against children, but not all apply the protocol (or even had copies of it until 2006).
Magistrates are required by the Juvenile Court Protocol to "monitor the use of physical force used against a juvenile," and should exclude evidence obtained by threats or torture under the Evidence Act and international standards. Judges, when hearing children's cases, should do the same. Human Rights Watch previously found that judges and magistrates were not asking children about police violence, even when they were obviously injured, and typically ignored children's volunteered reports of violence.
In 2006, the juvenile magistrates agreed to review the legality of arrest and detention in each child's case using a checklist of some 20 questions. Prominently featured on the checklist are questions about police use of force, cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment, and forced confessions. However, when the checklist was piloted, magistrates found that it took too much time-about 10 minutes per case. All juvenile magistrates' clerks were then trained to use the checklist in mid-2006 and directed to report any problems to the magistrate. However, it was not clear whether any clerks were using it as of October. In Port Moresby, although the clerk has tried out the checklist, she has not been able to employ it: despite appeals from the juvenile justice working group and the juvenile magistrate, police continue bring children to court late, leaving insufficient enough time for the clerk to complete the checklist.
Outside of the capital, implementation is far more erratic. The juvenile magistrate in Lae told us that he had never had a case of a child injured by police. "Like any other case," he told us, "people tend to have [this complaint]. It's the responsibility of the juvenile to prove that they were assaulted. This is a normal defense. But I haven't come across any [children] with physical injuries." He does not ask about use of force, he said, and if he did have a case he would ask a probation officer to look into it.
A 16-year-old boy told Human Rights Watch that he appeared before the magistrate in Lae around late April 2006 with his face still swollen (like many boys, he was detained for more than a week before ever seeing magistrate, so many of the marks had faded, he said.) The magistrate did not ask about his injuries, and, like most children in court, he did not have a lawyer. A person who regularly observes juvenile court proceedings in Lae told us, "Juveniles do speak out that they have been abused by police and some go with bruises. Mostly the magistrate sides with the police."
Juvenile magistrates also have a role in preventing the detention of children in illegal conditions. The Juvenile Court Protocol prohibits magistrates from remanding or committing children to institutions without a separate juvenile section, and directs them to review police detention decisions.
In 2006, the chief magistrate gave juvenile magistrates the power and obligation to visit places of juvenile detention (including police cells, rural lockups, prisons, and other remand or post-conviction institutions such as ErapBoysTown) by designating them as visiting magistrates and incorporating this obligation into their duty statement. At a meeting in July, the juvenile magistrates agreed to do one visit per month, and a detailed questionnaire was drafted to record the outcome of the visits. By October, however, the process was stalled around the question of magistrates' right to conduct visits without further legal approval.
National Court judges also have a visiting program, although only a few judges conduct such visits. For example, following two visits to Buimo prison in May 2006, Justice David Cannings reportedly ordered detainees released, transferred, or provided with medical care. He also issued a report highlighting problems including overcrowding, high numbers of female and juvenile detainees, shortage of uniforms for detainees and prison officials, poor sanitation, and long periods of detention before trial. According to news reports, the National Court had previously ordered the partial closure of Buimo in 2004 following several deaths from disease related to poor sanitation and overcrowding.
The Ombudsman Commission
The Ombudsman Commission has the power to investigate violations of basic rights, but has until now focused primarily on official corruption, where it plays a critical monitoring role.
The commission's human rights desk only has one staff person. Although much of his work has been in conducting trainings, he told us he had 25 active cases as of August 2006, most concerning violence by correctional officers and police. Since the desk's inception in May 2005, it has resolved four cases. The commission has active files on the 2004 raid on the Three-Mile Guesthouse and the 2005 police shootings of students in Enga province, but has not taken action in either case.
The commission was in negotiations with the police in August 2006 to allow the commission to oversee and work with the police internal affairs directorate on serious disciplinary offenses. However, the commission did not plan to add additional staff for this work should an agreement be reached, staff members told us.
The Ombudsman Commission through its regional offices and its single staff person on the human rights desk has the power to visit police lockup and prison. When they discover problems with conditions, staff members told us, they can raise them with correctional services or the police. However, they do not necessarily have the capacity to follow up after a single visit, and responsible corrections officers may not be held accountable for addressing problems identified.
Australia continues to be Papua New Guinea's largest foreign donor: its total overseas development assistance to Papua New Guinea was A$332 million (US$249 million) in 2006-2007.
The Papua New Guinea-Australia relationship was tense in 2005 and 2006. While Australia has historically provided a great deal of financial and technical support to the Papua New Guinea police, the country's engagement with the police force was under negotiation at this writing. In 2005, the policing component of the Enhanced Cooperation Program, which involving a major increase in assistance to the police, collapsed. A significant component of the program was the deployment of several hundred Australian Federal Police to work alongside Papua New Guinea police. Following a successful court challenge in May 2005 to the immunity provisions for Australian police in Papua New Guinea's implementing legislation, Australia withdrew its officers. However, some 40 non-police advisors remained in government agencies. Pending a new agreement, direct aid to the police remained suspended, but Australia supported other aspects of the law and justice sector, including in the area of juvenile justice. It also continued to support other entities such as the Ombudsman Commission and NGOs.
Australian government officials told Human Rights Watch that future police assistance would be much less than previously intended, with a few senior federal police likely to be sent. The focus would be narrowly restricted to corruption, with an emphasis on reducing fraudulent claims against the state. It was not expected to include support for the internal affairs department, a significant component of the previous agreement.
UNICEF continues to play a leading role in the development of the juvenile justice system, providing technical assistance for police, magistrates, and the juvenile justice working group, and some support for NGOs working to address aspects of police violence.
Other donors include the Asian Development Bank, China, the European Union, Germany, Japan, New Zealand, and the World Bank.
The Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary has primary responsibility for how the police force treats children and other citizens. The Papua New Guinea Correctional Service is responsible for the treatment of children in its custody. The Ministry of Justice and Attorney General, the Judicial and Magisterial Services, the Ombudsman Commission, and Parliament, also play important roles in preventing and addressing police violence. Human Rights Watch calls on the constabulary and, as appropriate, these other entities, to implement the recommendations set out in our September 2005 report, as well as those of the September 2004 administrative review of the police commissioned by the then-Minister of Police.
In particular, theRoyal Papua New Guinea Constabulary should take the following steps to stop police beatings, rape, and torture of children:
- Make strong and repeated public statements, at the highest institutional level (beginning with the new Minister of Police and the Commissioner of Police) against police violence against children, sex workers, and men and boys perceived to be homosexual.
- Punish officers who torture, rape, or use excessive force, using administrative sanctions, including dismissal, and criminal prosecution. Similarly punish commanding officers who know or should know of such acts, and who fail to prevent or punish them. Improve the speed and efficiency with which cases of criminal action by police are sent to the public prosecutor. Address outstanding cases, including the beatings and rape of women and girls in the 2004 raid on the Three-Mile Guesthouse and the 2005 shootings of schoolboys in Enga province.
- Hold all police officers who undergo training accountable for following it.
- Strengthen the police force's Internal Affairs Directorate, penalize officers who do not cooperate with the it, investigate alleged abuses and delays in implementing dismissal orders, and allow outside monitoring of cases, for example by the Ombudsman Commission. Take greater steps to improve public access to complaint units, including public education about the complaints process. Consider requesting international assistance to the directorate.
- Issue a directive, from the Commissioner of Police, that possession of condoms in itself should not be construed as evidence of living on the earnings of prostitution, and explicitly prohibit police officers from interfering in HIV/AIDS education and condom distribution.
- Strengthen and expand the juvenile justice system. Gazette the volunteer juvenile court officers. Establish and fully support additional juvenile reception centers throughout the country. Add additional, qualified staff to the juvenile policy monitoring unit and expand it throughout the country. Strengthen the unit by providing hands-on training in cell inspection. The juvenile policy monitoring unit should, in turn, make more regular cell inspections, record the results of each inspection (any children detained with adults, any injured children, and action taken), and measure its success by actions taken, not by lack of cases.
- Immediately implement the 2005 Police Juvenile Justice Policy and Protocols that mandate that children be detained only in "extreme or special circumstances" and never with adults. Provide all detainees, and especially children, medical care as needed and in a timely manner. Ensure that conditions of police lockups comply with international standards, including the provision of adequate food and water, separate and sufficient bedding, and adequate bathing and sanitary facilities. Hold shift officers-in-charge to their responsibility for ensuring that the policy is followed.
Ongoing, independent monitoring of police violence is essential. The government should immediately designate an independent body outside the police force to monitor police violence against children. If the Ombudsman Commission is given this responsibility, it should also be provided with adequate resources to do so. If a Human Rights Commission or police ombudsman (recommended by the September 2004 administrative review of the police) is created, the government should consider giving one of these bodies this responsibility. However, the government should, in the meantime, make every effort to strengthen existing accountability mechanisms.
The Ombudsman Commission should continue and strengthen the work of its human rights desk, which should prioritize cases of police violence against children.
The Minister for Justice should immediately commission a committee to inquire into police violence and generate findings and recommendations to the government.
Magistrates and National Court judges should ask children who appear before them about possible police violence using the checklist developed for juvenile magistrates, order medical care when needed, and exclude evidence obtained on the basis of torture. All magistrates and judges should be trained in protocols for juveniles and be held accountable for following them. Juvenile magistrates should implement plans to visit all places where children are detained, using the new questionnaire, and follow up on problems identified during visits. More National Court judges should monitor detention under the visiting justices scheme. Magistrates and judges should never send children to institutions not approved for juveniles.
The Office of the Public Solicitor should continue to pursue cases of police misconduct and strengthen the unit responsible for constitutional claims. The government should, in turn, deduct successful claims against the state from the budget of the department involved, and penalize officers who fail to cooperate with investigations.Measures to reduce the amount paid in civil claims must not create additional impediments to legitimate claims.
The government should respond to therequest of the UN special rapporteur on torture for an invitation to visit Papua New Guinea.
The government should improve access for victims of police violence to medical, legal, counseling, and other support services. Health services should include access to post-exposure prophylaxis for HIV and emergency contraception.
International donors, particularly Australia, remain critical to the police sector in Papua New Guinea, although the collapse of the Enhanced Cooperation Program in 2005 has resulted in a much-reduced level of support from Australia than previously anticipated. Papua New Guinea has been resistant to what it perceives as outside interference in the operations of its police force. Nevertheless, international donors could be more proactive, even within the constraints of the current relationship, in efforts to curb police abuses.
In particular, international donors should:
- Do more to assist the long-term development of local groups with the capacity for independent monitoring of police violence, for educating the public about police responsibilities and making vocal public demand for effective and lawful policing, and for helping victims obtain services and navigate the public complaint process.
- Continue and expand support for juvenile justice reforms.
- Prioritize accountability for police violence in any support for the police force's internal affairs directorate.
- Ensure that assistance for reducing fraudulent claims against the state does not impede legitimate claims.
- Continue and expand support for the Ombudsman Commission, seeking creative ways to provide human resources and other forms of support where the capacity to absorb additional financial resources is strained.
Zama Coursen-Neff, senior researcher in the Children's Rights Division, wrote this report based on her research and that of Tony Tate, researcher in the division. Michael Bochenek, deputy director of the Children's Rights Division; Ian Gorvin, consultant in the Program Office; and Lois Whitman, director of the Children's Rights Division edited the report. Joseph Amon, director of the HIV/AIDS Division; Sophie Richardson, deputy director of the Asia Division; Rebecca Schleifer, researcher in the HIV/AIDS Division; Jessica Stern, researcher in the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Rights Program; and Nisha Varia, senior researcher in the Women's Rights Division reviewed and commented on the report. Wilder Tayler provided legal review. Ranee Adipat provided research assistance. Ranee Adipat, Fitzroy Hepkins, and Andrea Holley produced the report.
Human Rights Watch is deeply grateful to the children, women, and men who agreed to be interviewed for this report about their experiences of police violence and harassment. We especially thank the staff of Poro Sapot project of Save the Children in Papua New Guinea. We are also grateful to others who assisted us in our research who did not wish to be named.
We thank the government and police officials who agreed to be interviewed for this report.
Finally, we acknowledge with appreciation the support of the Countess Moira Charitable Foundation, the Independence Foundation, and the Oak Foundation.