Tuesday, June 17, 2014

UN urges Papua New Guinea to halt 'witch hunting'


With experts pointing to a "growing pattern" of sorcery-related assaults, UN rights adviser Signe Poulsen tells DW the Papua New Guinea government is failing to protect the victims and bring the attackers to justice. 

There is growing concern about the Papua New Guinea's reported failure to prevent crimes related to the use of black magic, sorcery and cannibalism. The United Nations, which has repeatedly slammed "the growing pattern of vigilante attacks and killings" of persons accused of sorcery in the Pacific nation, now urges the government in Port Moresby to effectively and immediately investigate such cases.
The murder of Kepari Leniata made headlines around the world in February last year. The 20-year-old was stripped naked, tied up, doused in petrol and burned alive in front of a crowd by relatives of a boy who died following an illness in the city of Mount Hagen, according to multiple reports. Her attackers claimed she had caused his death through sorcery.
In 2012, the UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women found sorcery was often used as a pretext to mask the abuse of women in PNG.
With the level of witchcraft-related violence seemingly on the rise in the island nation, UN human rights adviser Signe Poulsen says in a DW interview, the government in Port Moresby must do more to tackle the issue and criticizes leading officials for bringing back the death penalty, saying a fair trial and certainty of punishment would be a better deterrent.
DW: How widespread is the belief in sorcery in Papua New Guinea?
Signe Poulsen: Belief in sorcery and witchcraft is widespread throughout Papua New Guinea, both in rural and urban areas. The beliefs vary between communities, and in some contexts have resulted in violent responses against persons accused of practicing sorcery or witchcraft. The profile of those accused also vary, and although in many communities women and girls have become victims, in other areas men have also been targeted.
Why would someone be suspected of witchcraft?
In many cases, allegations follow a sudden death or illness in the community. However, some observers have also pointed out that issues such as social stress and change, poverty, uneven development and disputes over land also may play a role in some cases.
In this Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013 photo, bystanders watch as a woman accused of witchcraft is burned alive in the Western Highlands provincial capital of Mount Hagen in Papua New Guinea.
Some cases of recent killings, such as that of Kepari Leniata, have been very public with large crowds involved.
How widespread is the practice of murder for suspected sorcery?
Our office has not compiled statistics on this. However, local media have reported a number of cases of killings this year.
Who are mostly the victims?
Most of those reported to have been killed or attacked are women. Those who attempt to protect the alleged sorcerer are sometimes themselves accused of sorcery. Family members of the accused can also be at risk, including spouses and children.
Who is responsible for sentencing the suspected sorcerers to death?
In some cases, allegations apparently escalate to the point of killing, without a "sentencing" process. In other cases, individuals may be called in to identify the sorcerer. There are reports of community leaders getting involved, and in other cases accusations may come from relatives of someone who has died suddenly. Some cases of recent killings, such as that of Kepari Leniata, have been very public with large crowds involved.
What has the government done to tackle this issue?
There are indications that the government in Port Moresby is serious about addressing the problem. However, it faces a number of challenges. In May 2013, the first of a series of notable steps taken by the Government was the repeal of the Sorcery Act 1971, legislation which perpetuated violence against accused sorcerers by criminalizing this practice and providing mitigating provisions for any harm done to a person accused of sorcery.
Legislation was also passed which provided for the death penalty for killings resulting from allegations of sorcery and witchcraft. However, I must point out that the OHCHR does not believe that the death penalty is an effective measure. We believe it is rather the certainty that perpetrators will be apprehended and dealt with through sound judicial processes that will serve as a deterrent.
During last week's consultation to develop a national action plan against sorcery- and witchcraft-related violence, participants developed a multi-sectoral approach which will be used to address violence resulting from sorcery and witchcraft accusations, and protect victims.
Nevertheless, the killings are still taking place. What are the shortcomings of the government's current approach?
At the local level, civil society and local police, public legal service providers, magistrates, health workers and village leaders have in some cases worked together effectively to prevent violence and protect those facing allegations of sorcery.
However, in numerous cases, those accused of attacks against alleged sorcerers have not been brought to justice. The police force in some cases does not have the resources or personnel required to stop attacks. In some cases, officers themselves have reportedly been complicit in attacks. Police officers also face challenges when investigating attacks. Victims and witnesses have in some cases been unwilling to speak out. There is no victim and witness protection programme in PNG.
What must be done to stop this practice?
To be effective, approaches must be multifaceted and part of a comprehensive program. First, there must be an end to impunity for those who incite or commit acts of violence against individuals accused of sorcery and witchcraft. These crimes must be promptly investigated and perpetrators brought to justice in fair trials. The establishment of a victim and witness protection programme would also be of importance if efforts to bring perpetrators to justice are to be effective.
Secondly, there is a need for broad based human rights and peace education, including education targeting health workers, judicial actors, community leaders, schools and police among others.
"Belief in sorcery and witchcraft is widespread throughout Papua New Guinea, both in rural and urban areas," says Poulsen
Third, there needs to be a program designed to provide support to victims and their families. Survivors of allegations of sorcery and witchcraft in many cases become displaced and impoverished, lose their social networks, and are at heightened risk of further violations.
Finally, there is a need to recognize and protect individuals who put themselves at risk to help those accused of sorcery and witchcraft. One way of strengthening and providing such support could be through the establishment of a National Human Rights Commission.

Signe Poulsen is based in Papua New Guinea where she works as an adviser for the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Right (OHCHR).
The interview was conducted by Gabriel Domínguez.

Pilot error contributes to PNG crash


A report has found pilot error contributed to one of PNG's worst aviation disasters.
Twenty-eight people died when an Airlines PNG Dash 8 crashed near Madang in October 2011.
Many of those killed were travelling to Madang for a university graduation ceremony.
The Accident Investigation Commission's final report found the pilot damaged the plane's engines on descent by throwing them into reverse after an alarm sounded warning that the plane had reached its maximum speed.
The Commission's CEO David Inau explained the findings to Liam Fox.
Presenter: Liam Fox
Speaker: David Inau, CEO Accident Investigation Commission
INAU: What happened was that on descent, the pilot selected flight idle, so that he can descend at towards Madang. But in this instance, the damper that has auto pilot inputs to control the descent was unserviceable, so the pilot had to manually fly the aircraft from top of descent down to Madang.
Now, in the descent profile, he selected flight idle so that he can get a good rate of descent going, so he can arrive at Madang, but in the process, there was some cloud in the air, so he had to fly around the clouds to get below the cloud as quickly as he can.
The two pilots did not notice the air speed, the air speed had increased, they may have had the nose down too far, the air speed increased to the end approaching the maximum of speed, the warning horn came off. When the warning horn sounded, the pilot in command reach across, selected the power levers and moved them into the beta range. Initially, they were in forward flight, but when he selected reverse flight, the propellers turned into reverse pitch and in the process, damaged the propeller gear box.
FOX: So by trying to slow down, he's accidentally gone into reverse, is that right?
INAU: We cannot ascertain why he selected reverse in flight. He has not revealed anything to us, but when he selected the beta range, which made the propellers go into reverse cycle, that's when the gear box failed.
FOX: And would a pilot normally ever move into beta range while they're in the air?
INAU: There is a strong warning in the flight manual and it's in the report that beta range cannot be used in flight. It's only for ground operations.
FOX: And then once this situation had happened the report says that the crew did not respond to any of the alerts by implementing emergency procedures. Is that correct, and what were those emergency procedures?
INAU: We had the flight data recorder, and the cockpit voice recordings, which indicated to us that there was a total lack of attention to what had happened and the correct procedures to follow after such an event were not followed to try and get the air speed control, the rate of descent control so that they can probably have more time in the air and make sound decisions to landing at a suitable location.
FOX: One of the things that was not done, was extending the landing gear and the use of flaps. What would potentially have happened if those were used?
INAU: Well, with the flaps, extension of the flaps, you may, the speed, the stall speed would have been reduced, so you can fly in at a lower speed and if the landing gear would have been used, it could have assisted in the impact on touching down on the riverbed there.
FOX: So it could potentially have lessened the force of the impact?
INAU: Could have, but we cannot confirm that, but it could have.
FOX: So in laymen's terms, if someone, a member of the public is reading this report or indeed a relative of someone who die, this could be summarised as a crash resulting from pilot error?
INAU: Well, that's what is reported in the papers and the media here in Papua New Guinea at the moment. We have stated the facts in the report. Whatever the readers want to use, and get out of that report, it is their views as well.
FOX: The crash wouldn't have happened if the pilot didn't throw the engines into reverse while near top speed, that's correct though, isn't it?
INAU: Yeah, that is correct.
FOX: The aspect about that emergency procedures weren't followed once the plane got into trouble, what has Airlines PNG done about that particular aspect?
INAU: Ah, Airlines PNG have not indicated publicly to us yet, but one thing that has emanated from all this is that now all, as of today, all Dash 8 aircraft throughout the world are now by law required to have beta lock out system, where selecting the levers past the flight idle gate will not put the props into reverse.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Rubbish in the park

Rubbish in the park.I wish that our people do not litter so much as these pictures of Jack Pidik Park at 5-Mile in Port Moresby, taken yesterday, show.

Tribesmen from Papua New Guinea visit ahead of plans to build village in NYC

Mundiya Kepanga, a ritual wig man, and Fabian Paino, a well-known Malagan carver, visited New York City for the first time to attract tourists to their home.

Sunday, June 15, 2014
Two tribesmen from Papua New Guinea hit the city last week to lure tourists to their island homeland.
This June, a Papua New Guinea village will be built in New York City, and Mundiya Kepanga and Fabian Paino flew in for the event — their first time in the big city.
Papua New Guinea, located around 100 miles north of Australia, is home to 7.5 million people with more than 800 languages and cultures.
"We had quite a large task of bringing that kind of diversity of Papua New Guinea to America,” says spokesperson Ally Stoltz.
Kepanga and Paino had the typical tourist experience — including a run-in with the Naked Cowboy — but their trip had a deeper purpose.
Mundiya Kepanga checks out some 'I Love New York' T-shirts.
David Handschuh/New York Daily News Mundiya Kepanga checks out some 'I Love New York' T-shirts. Enlarge
Mundiya Kepanga and Fabian Paino help the Naked Cowboy into a mask.
David Handschuh/New York Daily News Mundiya Kepanga and Fabian Paino help the Naked Cowboy into a mask. Enlarge
“Essentially, they’re here to build a bridge,” Stoltz says. “They’re building a bridge back to Papua New Guinea, and inviting Americans to continue the journey that they started here today and actually visit.”

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Lost Australian soldiers buried with full military honours after nearly 70 years

Remains of two men killed by Japanese near the end of second world war laid to rest in PNG cemetery

 Australian Associated Press
Bomana war cemetery png
The Bomana war cemetery in Port Moresby. Photograph: Alan Porritt/AAP
Two Australian soldiers killed by Japanese forces near the end of the second world war have been buried with full military honours.
Lance Corporal Spencer Walklate and Private Ronald Eagleton, both members of Z Special unit, were buried in a ceremony at the Bomana war cemetery, Port Moresby, on Thursday.
Their remains were recovered on Kairiru Island, off the north coast of Papua New Guinea, last year after a search by the army's unrecovered war casualties unit.
Both were members of an eight-man Z Special patrol in what was called “operation copper” to Muschu Island in April 1945 which aimed to investigate Japanese naval guns which could imperil the allied landing planned for Wewak.
The mission was a disaster. Japanese forces discovered the Australians and hunted them down. One, sapper Mick Dennis, managed to swim to the mainland, and survived.
It was thought Walklate and Eagleton drowned as they and others tried to escape. But it emerged they managed to reach Kairiru where they were captured, tortured and beheaded.
Dennis, 94, plus soldiers from the Special Air Service regiment and the 1st and 2nd Commando regiments provided the funeral party on Thursday.
Army chief lieutenant, General David Morrison, said the army was committed to honouring every Australian soldier lost in combat.
“We must never forget those who served before us, and whose legacy we live to today,” he said.
Brian Manns, manager of the unrecovered war casualties unit, said the funeral was the culmination of years of work.
“The investigation took several years and involved an immense effort,” he said.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Why PNG has gone backwards since 1975

Papua New Guineans just don't seem to take ownership of anything like cleaning up the clogged drain right next to them.
It's little things like this that are stopping the country from going forward and why we have gone back big time since Independence  in 1975, which we obviously didn't take ownership of as well.
While on taking ownership,  I wonder if the landlord (if there is any) at Malolo Estate, 8-Mile,  could put up a new signboard, patch the crater-like potholes, and clean the clogged drains.
And of course, control the sale of liquor and buai.
The once-premier housing estate in Port Moresby is becoming more like a slum every day...like all things Papua New Guinean..


The shame of Port Moresby's buses and taxis

 The buses (PMVs)  and taxis in Port Moresby and getting filthier and stinkier by the day.
Not to mention the thugs who drive the taxis, who could end up robbing you or worse, and the filthy bus stops which abound with petty thieves and drug dealers.
This is in a city which is said to be the "richesr and fastest growing in the Pacific" and will host the Melanesia Festival of Arts and Culture at the end of this month, Pacific Games in 2015, and APEC in 2018.
Last week, I posted on Facebook that Sports Minister Justin Tkatchenko  told me towards the end of last year that PMVs and taxis would be spic-and-span in time for the 2015 Pacific Games. 
It's June now and our PMVs are getting filthier and stinkier by the day.
Taktchenko replied:   "Instructions where issued to the transport department last year.
"If I was in control of that department you would see a difference,
" I can't personally do everything myself when relying on people that are not doing there job.
"I will push the issue again with the appropriate authorities.
"Why don't you do some productive reporting and ask the Transport Secretary what he's  doing to clean up the buses and taxis towards the games."

The road to nowhere

Twas total chaos on the Erima to 9-Mile Road yesterday as traffic came to a complte standstill and it was much faster walking than driving. 
The public relations of the contractir, Dekenai Construction,is so poor that the thousands of people who use this road don't know what the hell is going on. 
I remember, back in Lae in the late 1990s and early 2000s, when Australian company Barclay Bros was carrying out roadworks, they had a very popular and successful radio programme where one of their managers would talk rugby league and then give a roads update.
 Unfortunately, Dekenai doesn't fall into that class, and we continue to suffer every day. and I know this only too well as an 8-Mile resident.

Gordon Market Pig Sty

For a city that hosts the Melanesian Festivalf of Arts and Culture at the end of this month, Pacific Games in a little over 12 months from now, and APEC in 2018, , Port Moresby continues to have pig stys in its midst, filthy and stinking buses and taxis, and litter, litter everywhere.
 This is Port Moresby, home of the LNG processing plant, and said to be the richest and fastest-growing city in the Pacific...in a country that has gone backwards big time since 1975.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Why ExxonMobil's US$19 billion LNG project is a big deal

The role of liquefied natural gas, or LNG, is increasing among the integrated oil and gas super-majors. Giants like ExxonMobil (NYSE: XOM  ) and Chevron (NYSE: CVX  ) are spending huge amounts of money to build massive LNG plants around the world.
For these two behemoths, the tantalizing potential of emerging market energy demand has prompted each one to build LNG facilities in the Asia-Pacific region. Chevron management stated in its last presentation that LNG demand will nearly double by 2025.
For ExxonMobil, its Papua New Guinea LNG plant is an exciting catalyst because of its enormous production potential. And, this potential is getting very close to materializing since the company just took the first LNG shipment.
This marks the beginning of a long and highly profitable journey for ExxonMobil, one that will leave it and its shareholders measurably better off.
LNG from PNG
ExxonMobil has a large number of high-profile projects lined up this year, so it might be easy to overlook an individual project in such a far place as Papua New Guinea. But you'd be wise to pay close attention to this particular LNG project because its production potential is truly amazing.
Source: pnglng.com
Over the $19 billion project's expected 30-year lifespan, ExxonMobil expects to produce 9 trillion cubic feet of gas. Each year, project capacity is pegged at 6.9 million tonnes. The first shipment just occurred, headed to Tokyo Electric Power in Japan, ahead of schedule. Other major customers for the project's output include China Petroleum and Chemical and Osaka Gas. Production toward a second shipment is ongoing now that additional wells are coming online.
The project is an integrated one, with gas production and processing facilities stretched across several provinces of Papua New Guinea. These facilities, which include a gas conditioning plant and liquefaction facility, are connected by roughly 435 miles of pipelines.
In a statement, Neil W. Duffin, president of ExxonMobil Development Company, stated:
The PNG LNG project exemplifies ExxonMobil's leadership in project execution, advanced technologies[,] and marketing capabilities. Our demonstrated expertise will enable us to progress other LNG opportunities in our portfolio, including expansion opportunities in Papua New Guinea and to meet growing global demand.
This project mimics Chevron's own huge LNG projects, which are situated in Australia. The end result for both companies is to serve the large (and growing) demand for energy in the emerging markets, Asia more specifically.
Chevron is nearing completion of two separate projects in Australia called Wheatstone and Gorgon. Wheatstone is a $29 billion project which includes two LNG trains with a combined capacity of 8.9 million tonnes per annum and a domestic gas plant. First shipments are expected in 2016. Meanwhile, the Gorgon development is one of the world's largest LNG projects. Gorgon is about 80% complete, and management expects first shipments next year.
Why LNG matters
Liquefied natural gas holds great promise. As a liquid, it's much easier and more cost effective to store and ship. In fact, LNG occupies up to 600 times less space, according to an industry report from Royal Dutch Shell.
And, since energy demand across the globe is set to rise in the near future, LNG represents a huge opportunity.
It should come as no surprise, then, that integrated super-majors ExxonMobil and Chevron are getting ready to begin production on their own LNG projects. Both companies have situated massive LNG production facilities near Asia to easily accommodate the rising demand from Japan, China, and other nations.
ExxonMobil's $19 billion LNG facility in Papua New Guinea just shipped its first cargo, an exciting start to a long and highly productive venture. LNG will surely assist in getting production going in the right direction again for both companies, which couldn't come at a better time.