The Human Truth Foundation

Human Rights and Freedom in Papua New Guinea

By Vexen Crabtree 2019

#mass_media #papua_new_guinea #papua_new_guinea_politics #politics

Papua New Guinea
Independent State of Papua New Guinea

[Country Profile Page]
StatusIndependent State
Social and Moral Index182nd best
LocationAustralasia, Melanesia
Life Expectancy65.35yrs (2017)2

Papua New Guinea is very poor at ensuring human rights and freedom compared to the rest of the world, and it has cultural issues when it comes to tolerance and equality. Papua New Guinea does better than average in supporting press freedom3 (one of the best in Australasia), commentary in Human Rights Watch reports4 (amongst the best in Australasia) and in supporting personal, civil & economic freedoms5 (but one of the highest in Australasia). Papua New Guinea doesn't do so well in other areas. Papua New Guinea does worse than average in terms of freethought6 (amongst the worst in Australasia), LGBT equality7 and in its nominal commitment to Human Rights8. And finally, it falls into the worst-performing 20 in opposing gender inequality9 (amongst the highest in Australasia) and in speed of uptake of HR treaties10. "The government has not taken sufficient steps to address gender inequality, violence, excessive use of force by police, or corruption and relies heavily on religious groups and nongovernment organizations (NGOs) to provide services on a charitable basis to meet the economic and social rights of the population"11.

1. Papua New Guinea's Human Rights, Equality & Tolerance

#equality #gender_equality #human_rights #morals #politics #prejudice #tolerance

Compared to Australasia (2020)12
Pos.Lower is better
Avg Rank12
1New Zealand17.3
4Papua New Guinea122.2
9Marshall Islands134.2
13Cook Islands144.5
Australasia Avg119.7
Human Rights, Equality & Tolerance (2020)12
Pos.Lower is better
Avg Rank12
155Central African Rep.121.0
157Papua New Guinea122.2
159=St Kitts & Nevis123.0
World Avg87.9

The best countries in the world at ensuring human rights, fostering equality and promoting tolerance, are Sweden, Norway and Denmark13. These countries are displaying the best traits that humanity has to offer. The worst countries are The Solomon Islands, Somalia and Tuvalu13.

The data sets used to calculate points for each country are statistics on commentary in Human Rights Watch reports, its nominal commitment to Human Rights, speed of uptake of HR treaties, supporting personal, civil & economic freedoms, supporting press freedom, eliminating modern slavery, opposing gender inequality, the rate of gender bias (from 7 indicators), the year from which women could participate in democracy, its success in fighting anti-semitic prejudice, LGBT equality and freethought. The regions with the best average results per country are Scandinavia, Baltic States and Europe13, whereas the worst are Melanesia, Micronesia and Australasia13.

For more, see:

Amnesty International's 2023-23 summary on human rights in Papua New Guinea stated:

During violence around national elections dozens of people were killed. Dismissals of journalists and new restrictions on them undermined media freedom. Laws aimed at strengthening protection against sexual and gender-based violence were adopted, but high rates of violence against women and girls continued to be reported, including following accusations of sorcery. Access to adequate healthcare remained severely restricted. The death penalty was abolished.

"The State of the World's Human Rights 2022/23" by Amnesty International (2023)14

2. Human Rights & Tolerance

2.1. Human Rights Watch Comments


Human Rights Watch Comments
Higher is better4
61=Papua New Guinea-3
Australasia Avg0.0
World Avg-1.9
(one of the highest in Australasia)Papua New Guinea is positioned 60th in the world when it comes to commentary in Human Rights Watch reports.

Human Rights Watch comments concentrate mostly on negative issues, however, they also make positive comments for those countries that engage in human rights defence around the world, or who make improvements at home. By adding up positive and negative comments (including double-points for negatives that involve large scales and crimes against humanity), the Social and Moral Index turns HRW commentary into quantified values. Some countries may be unfairly penalized because HRW have not examined them, and, some countries "get away" with abuses if they manage to hide it, or if it goes unnoticed - a negative point has been given for those countries in which HRW specifically state that access to investigators has been barred. The points were limited to a minimum of -10 because there are some points at which things are so bad, with abuses affecting so many, it is difficult to be more specific about the depths of the issues.

2.2. Nominal Commitment to HR


Nominal Commitment to HR
Higher is better8
2=Costa Rica23
165=Papua New Guinea9
165=St Kitts & Nevis9
Australasia Avg8.7
World Avg15.1
Regarding its nominal commitment to Human Rights, Papua New Guinea is positioned 164th in the world.

There are many international agreements on human rights, and, many mechanisms by which countries can be brought to account for their actions. Together, these have been the biggest historical movement in the fight against oppression and inhumanity. Or, putting it another way: these are rejected mostly by those who wish to oppress inhumanely. None of them are perfect and many people object to various components and wordings, but, no-one has come up with, and enforced, better methods of controlling the occasional desires that states and peoples have of causing angst for other states and peoples in a violent, unjust or inhumane way. Points are awarded for the number of human rights agreements ratified by the country, plus the acceptance of the petition mechanisms for disputes. The maximum possible score in 2009 was 24.

2.3. HR Treaties Lag

#human_rights #international_law #micronesia #politics #small_islands

HR Treaties Lag
Lower is better10
Avg Yrs/Treaty10
180Myanmar (Burma)14.93
181St Kitts & Nevis15.00
183Papua New Guinea15.23
Australasia Avg14.35
World Avg10.02
Papua New Guinea ranks 13rd-worst in the world with regard to speed of uptake of HR treaties.

Human Rights (HR) Treaties Lag is a count of how long it took each country to sign each of 11 key HR treaties. From the date of the first signatory of each treaty, all other countries have one point added to their score for each day they delayed in signing. Results are presented as average time in years to sign each one. The lower a country's score, the more enthusiastically it has taken on international Human Rights Treaties - which are, of course, minimal standards of good governance. The slowest are the countries of Micronesia, Melanesia, Australasia and Polynesia all lagged by over 12 years per treaty. The best regions are The Americas, Scandinavia and the Mediterranean.

For more, see:

2.4. Personal, Civil & Economic Freedom

#freedom #politics

Personal, Civil & Economic Freedom
Lower is better5
1Hong Kong1
3New Zealand3
74=S. Africa74
74=Papua New Guinea74
79Trinidad & Tobago79
Australasia Avg36.0
World Avg79.7
(one of the worst in Australasia)Regarding supporting personal, civil & economic freedoms, Papua New Guinea ranks 74th in the world.

The Human Freedom Index published by the Fraser Institute is...

... a broad measure of human freedom, understood as the absence of coercive constraint. It uses 79 distinct indicators of personal and economic freedom in the following areas: Rule of Law, Security and Safety, Movement, Religion, Association, Assembly, and Civil Society, Expression, Relationships, Size of Government, Legal System and Property Rights, Access to Sound Money, Freedom to Trade Internationally, Regulation of Credit, Labor, and Business. [...]

The highest levels of freedom are in Western Europe, Northern Europe, and North America (Canada and the United States. The lowest levels are in the Middle East and North Africa, South Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa. [...]

Countries in the top quartile of freedom enjoy a significant higher per capita income ($37,147) [compared with] the least-free quartile [at] $8,700). The HFI finds a strong correlation between human freedom and democracy.

"The Human Freedom Index" by The Fraser Institute (2016)15

2.5. Press Freedom

#democracy #freedom #Freedom_of_Speech #Good_Governance #mass_media #politics #UK

Press Freedom
Lower is better3
37El Salvador2286
40Papua New Guinea2297
43Trinidad & Tobago2312
Australasia Avg2164
World Avg3249
(one of the lowest in Australasia)Regarding supporting press freedom, Papua New Guinea ranks 40th in the world.

The freedom to investigate, publish information, and have access to others' opinion is a fundamental part of today's information-driven world, and is linked with Freedom of Speech and Good Governance. Scores on the Press Freedom Index are calculated according to indicators including pluralism - the degree to which opinions are represented in the media, media independence of authorities, self-censorship, legislation, transparency and the infrastructure that supports news and information, and, the level of violence against journalists which includes lengths of imprisonments. The index "does not take direct account of the kind of political system but it is clear that democracies provide better protection for the freedom to produce and circulate accurate news and information than countries where human rights are flouted". The rankings are used as one of the datasets of the Social and Moral Development Index16

It must be noted that press freedom is not an indicator of press quality and the press itself can be abusive; the UK suffers in particular from a popular brand of nasty reporting that infuses several of its newspapers who are particularly prone to running destructive and often untrue campaigns against victims. The Press Freedom Index notes that "the index should in no way be taken as an indicator of the quality of the media in the countries concerned".

2.6. Slavery

#burundi #eritrea #france #human_rights #indonesia #slavery

Lower is better
% Victims17
147Papua New Guinea1.03
150Myanmar (Burma)1.10
Australasia Avg0.38
World Avg0.65
(yet still amongst the best in Australasia)Papua New Guinea is 21st-worst in the world when it comes to eliminating modern slavery.

The taking of slaves has been an unwholesome feature of Human cultures since prehistory18. Private households and national endeavours have frequently been augmented with the use of slaves. The Egyptian and Roman empires both thrived on them for both purposes. Aside from labourers they are often abused sexually by their owners and their owners' friends19. The era of colonialism and the beginnings of globalisation changed nothing: the imprisonment and forced movements of labour continued to destroy many lives except that new justifications were invented based on Christian doctrine and the effort to convert non-Christians. By 1786 over 12 million slaves had been extracted from Africa and sent to colonial labour camps, with a truly atrocious condition of life20. But they were not the only ones to blame; in Africa internal nations such as the Asantes sold and bought tens of thousands of slaves21.

The abolition of the slave trade was a long and slow process. Until a relatively modern time, even philosophers, religious leaders and those concerned with ethics justified, or ignored, the problem of slavery22. The first abolitionists were always the slaves themselves. Their protests and rebellions caused the industry to become too expensive to continue. After that, it was the economic costs of maintain slave colonies that led the British to reject and then oppose the slave trade globally. Finally, the enlightenment-era thinkers of France encouraged moral and ethical thinking including the declaration of the inherent value of human life and human dignity23. A long-overdue wave of compassionate and conscientious movements swept across the West, eliminating public support for slavery, until the industries and churches that supported it had no choice but to back down.

'Modern slavery' includes forced labour (often of the under-age), debt bondage (especially generational), sexual slavery, chattel slavery and other forms of abuse, some of which can be surprisingly difficult to detect, but often target those fleeing from warzones and the vulnerable.24. Some industries (diamond, clothing, coal) from some countries (Burundi25, Eritrea25, Indonesia26) are a particular concern. The Walk Free Foundation, say that in 2016, 40.3 million people were living in modern slavery27.

For more, see:

3. Gender Equality

Papua New Guinea is an unequal country, with male rights dominating those of women.

Papua New Guinea "has one of the highest rates of maternal death in the world. Just over 50 percent of women and girls give birth in a health facility or with the help of a skilledbirth attendant. [...] Two out of three women still cannot access contraception due to geographic, cultural, and economic barriers. Abortion remains illegal in PNG, except when the mother´s life is at risk"11.

More than three years after the 2013 Family Protection Act was adopted, parliament in May finally passed regulations to implement the law, which criminalizes domestic violence and allows victims to obtain protection orders. Police and prosecutors rarely pursue investigations or criminal charges against people who commit family violence–even in cases of attempted murder, serious injury, or repeated rape.

"World Report 2018" by Human Rights Watch (2018)11


3.1. Gender Inequality

#gender #gender_equality #human_rights #misogyny #women

Gender Inequality
Lower is better
141Congo, (Brazzaville)0.59
143Papua New Guinea0.59
146Burkina Faso0.62
Australasia Avg0.39
World Avg0.36
(amongst the worst in Australasia)Papua New Guinea ranks 17th-worst in the world regarding opposing gender inequality.

The UN Human Development Reports include statistics on gender equality which take into account things like maternal mortality, access to political power (seats in parliament) and differences between male and female education rates. Gender inequality is not a necessary part of early human development. Although a separation of roles is almost universal due to different strengths between the genders, this does not have to mean that women are subdued, and, such patriarchalism is not universal in ancient history. Those cultures and peoples who shed, or never developed, the idea that mankind ought to dominate womankind, are better cultures and peoples than those who, even today, cling violently to those mores.

For more, see:

3.2. Year Women Can Vote

#christianity #gender_equality #human_rights #politics #women

Year Women Can Vote
Lower is better
1New Zealand1893
147=Papua New Guinea1964
Australasia Avg1962
World Avg1930
Papua New Guinea is 146th in the world regarding the year from which women could participate in democracy.

Women now have equal rights in the vast majority of countries across the world. Although academic literature oftens talks of when a country "grants women the right to vote", this enforces a backwards way of thinking. Women always had the right to vote, however, they were frequently denied that right. The opposition to women's ability to vote in equality with man was most consistently and powerfully opposed by the Catholic Church, other Christian organisations, Islamic authorities and some other religious and secular traditionalists.

For more, see:

4. Prejudice

4.1. LGBT Equality

#equality #homosexuality #human_rights #ICCPR #intolerance #sexuality #tolerance

Homosexuality is outlaws according to a nonsensical law that criminalizes sex "against the order of nature"11, despite the documented prevalence of same-sex sexual activity in animals in Papua New Guinea.

LGBT Equality
Higher is better
134=Trinidad & Tobago-10
134=S. Sudan-10
134=Papua New Guinea-10
134=Sri Lanka-10
134=Antigua & Barbuda-10
134=St Vincent & Grenadines-10
Australasia Avg07.1
World Avg12.6
Papua New Guinea comes 133rd in the world when it comes to LGBT equality.

Discrimination against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) folk is rife across the world. Legal restrictions co-exist alongside social stigmatisation and physical violence28. LGBT tolerance and equal rights have been fought for country-by-country across the world, often against tightly entrenched cultural and religious opposition. Adult consensual sexual activity is a Human Right, protected by privacy laws29. Despite this, homosexual activity is outlawed in around 80 countries28. The Social & Moral LGBT Equality Index was created to compare countries and regions, granting points to each country for a variety of factors including how long gay sex has been criminalized and the extent of LGBT legal rights. Graded negative points are given for criminality of homosexuality, unequal ages of consent, legal punishments and for not signing international accords on LGBT tolerance. The signs in many developed countries are positive, and things are gradually improving. Europe is by far the least prejudiced region (Scandinavia in particular being exemplary). The Middle East and then Africa are the least morally developed, where cultural bias goes hand-in-hand with state intolerance, all too often including physical violence.

For more, see:

4.2. Freedom of Thought

#europe #freedom_of_belief #freethought #human_rights #netherlands #religion #religious_tolerance #secularism #the_enlightenment

Freedom of Thought
Lower is better
142=Papua New Guinea3.5
Australasia Avg2.6
World Avg3.0
(amongst the worst in Australasia)Papua New Guinea ranks 132nd in the world in terms of freethought.

Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Belief are upheld in Article 18 the United Nation's Universal Declaration of Human Rights30. It affirms that it is a basic human right that all people are free to change their beliefs and religion as they wish31. No countries voted against this (although eight abstained). This right was first recognized clearly in the policies of religious toleration of the Netherlands and elsewhere in Europe in the post-enlightenment era32 of the 19th century. In democratic countries, freedom of belief and religion is now taken for granted33. In 2016 a study found that over 180 countries in the world had come to guarantee freedom of religion and belief34. The best countries at doing so are Taiwan, Belgium and The Netherlands6,35 and the worst: Afghanistan, N. Korea, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia6,36.

Long-term studies have shown that religious violence and persecution both decrease in cultures where religious freedom is guaranteed37. Despite this, there still are many who are strongly against freedom of belief31, including entire cultures and many individual communities of religious believers. Their alternative is that you are not free to believe what you want and they often state that you cannot change religion without being punished (often including the death penalty): this is bemoaned as one of the most dangerous elements of religion38 and "the denial of religious freedoms is inevitably intertwined with the denial of other freedoms"39 and the solution is, everywhere, to allow religious freedom and the freedom of belief.

For more, see: