By Belden Namah MP via PNG Blog
I welcome Prime Minister Peter O’Neil’s decision to file a defamation suit against me. It is not surprising for Peter O’Neill to be reactive to issues that the Opposition has brought to light in recent times.
It is the traditional role of the Opposition to criticise, oppose, speculate and to even take pre-emptive measures on issues that concern the welfare of our people.
We are duty bound to keep the government and its leaders including the Prime Minister in check, so why is Mr O’Neill running to the courts when we are debating corruption at the National Government level?
I have as a leader tolerated wild, unfounded and even malicious allegations levelled against me in the media, yet, I have not sued the perpetrators or any media organisation for reporting such allegations. I have and will always respect media freedom and freedom of expression in this country and I expect Peter O’Neill and other leaders to do likewise.
My grave concern is that we now have a Prime Minister who is trying to control media freedom in our country. I ask the PM to leave media freedom to be practised without fear or favour in our democracy.
In this case the PM should leave EMTV alone. Let the media do its work and report without fear or favour.
The threat by the PM to cancel EMTV’s licence is an act of a dictator.
I want to appeal to all Papua New Guineans working in government organisations or state institutions that if you are threatened to facilitate corruption or have any information on corrupt practices, you must speak up. I am ready to receive and fight against corruption in this country including defending you against reprisal by government.
I call on the Ombudsman Commission and other watch dog organisations to do likewise and support whistle blowers for the good of our people, our country and our children’s future.
I am prepared to pay legal costs for EMTV journalist Scott Waide against the defamation suit by Peter O’Neil. And I guarantee the same for others who will speak out on the corruption of the PM, Ministers and other leaders.
From ACT NOW!
“Survey respondents indicated that trafficking for the purpose of forced labour and sexual exploita$on is occurring at a high rate… The logging industry received the highest results by survey respondents as a business sector that exposes persons to risks of trafficking.”
“Consultations with… law enforcement and border oﬃcers indicated that logging industry tugboats smuggle people in containers under the cover of darkness at night or during stormy weather bypassing checkpoints to directly enter logging camps to evade detection. These people work as laborers or as prostitutes at the logging sites.
Trafficking for forced labour and sexual exploitation rife in Papua New Guinea – report
By Thin Lei Win | Trust Law
Women and girls in Papua Guinea are being trafficked for sexual exploitation, forced labour and domestic servitude within the country and across international borders, according to a new report launched this week [1.5mb].
In the absence of any laws criminalising trafficking in persons, “victims of trafficking are at risk of prosecution and further psychological and physical abuse and trauma” under Papua New Guinea’s current legal system, the report added.
The report, by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and the Papua New Guinea Department of Justice and Attorney General, is the first to provide baseline statistics on people who have been smuggled and trafficked in the country.
The report is based on 93 surveys and 27 in-depth consultations in four provinces.
Survey respondents said sex trafficking is the most prevalent form of trafficking in PNG, followed by labour, domestic servitude and child trafficking.
Females, especially young women between 18-25, are perceived to be more vulnerable in all demographics.
Girls are more than twice as likely to become trafficking victims as boys and children who do not attend school are at greater risk, the report said.
The logging industry was identified as the sector that most exposes people to the risk of trafficking, the survey found.
People who work in and around marketplaces, bars, restaurants and gaming clubs faced the second-highest level of risk.
Respondents said trafficking in PNG is both internal and transnational in nature, with most transnational trafficking occurring through the PNG-Indonesia border with PNG as a destination.
From: The Masalai blog
A Public Consultation was advertised in the papers earlier this month, see above, for the rezoning of an access way that lies between several large areas of sporting fields in the Bisini area of Boroko. It appears that some company wants to re-zone this land from a sporting public area to a commercially zoned area. My parents live just around the corner, so naturally my mother was livid about the situation and went about collecting signatures for a petition for the re-zoning to be stopped. You can see her petition here.
The deadline was yesterday, so we’ll see what happens from here about that re-zoning. So while on this subject this news also popped up on facebook about the Jack Pidik Park being sold to a Supermarket chain. Interestingly none of the major dailies ran this story.
“I will give an explanation after this session of Parliament ends. It is a long history but the short of it is that the Park was lost before my time. There is a Supreme Court decision. I have used physical planning powers to deny the title holders from developing it commercially. However the title holders appealed against our decision to Minister for Lands [Benny Alan] as required under the Law and he has upheld their Appeal. This now limits our legal option so only political action can stop it. We have spend over million defending Unagi Oval so I am nit sure I will go down that line considering Supreme Court decision. I have started negotiation with the title holder for a win win outcome. If there are other options too, I will consider them.”
It’s scary that these corrupt acts of stealing public spaces have been going on for so long and worse that even our Governor Parkop can’t fight to save our parks in Port Moresby with the political will of the Government being severely wanting on this issue. As Bernard Sinai asked in a similar blog post, ‘Where Do Our Children Play?’
The need for recreational spaces in cities is not rocket science and you only have to look at a big city like New York to see the cultural and social effects of parks in a city.
So the heart of the problem may not only be one of vision and foresight, which most MP’s seem to lack at times, but the fact that the Minister for Lands & Physical Planning, Benny Alan has jurisdiction over land in NCD. This highlights a problem for any Governor in any Province from fully having control over their cities and towns to develop them appropriately according to demands that they can see locally on the ground. If Parkop is going to be forever fighting with Ministers to save our Parks in NCD then we have a serious structural problem here in how Land is administered between two powers with vastly different agendas.
There has been a lot of interest and comment on a recent post about the Australian academic Tony Regan and his role in the drafting of a new mining law for the Autonomous Bougainville Government.
Distilling the various views expressed and evidence adduced, the question seems to be whether Mr Regan is genuinely an independent academic assiduously assisting the people of Bougainville or whether he is biased in favor of large-scale mining and an apologist for the role of Rio Tinto in the Bougainville war.
ABC journalist Liam Fox seems to be a firm supporter of Mr Regan; posting:
“wondering if you’re aware of Tony Regan’s long, long history of working with Bougainvilleans and that he’s widely admired and respected in Bougainville for that work?”
“… to paint Mr Regan as a stooge of BCL [Bougainville Copper Limited] and /or the Australian government is ridiculous in my opinion”
Of course, Mr Regan wouldn’t be the first Bougainville expert at Australia’s National University (where Regan is based) to work as a ‘stooge’ for the Australian government According to his obituary in The Australian, the respected historian and Bougainville commentator, Jim Griffin while working at ANU was recruited as an analyst by the Office of National Assessments (one of Australia’s key intelligence agencies) for his expertise on PNG and Bougainville in particular. At the same time he was writing papers and articles on the war, advocating Australian military intervention.
Mr Regan also has good reason to make sure he does not upset the Australian government with his views: Regan is currently benefiting under a $600,000 three-year grant from AusAID to study and document the impacts of illegal mining on Bougainville; this is in addition to other lucrative AusAID consultancies he has accrued for his work on Bougainville
And Mr Regan certainly wouldn’t be the first Australian academic, or broadcaster, to display sympathies for the mining industry or other corporate giants with poor records on human rights and the environment (indeed the Australian media and academia are littered with them).
But what does the hard evidence say?
Dr Kristian Lasslett from Ulster University has pointed out a couple of interesting facts:
Firstly on the Bougainville blockade, which most academics and observers agree led to the unnecessary death of thousands of children and pregnant mothers because of the shortages it created in medicines, soap and disinfectant; a situation which has been described as a ‘humanitarian crisis’ and an ‘emergency situation’. Regan though saw things very differently. In his evidence to an Australian Senate inquiry he suggested deaths caused by the blockade were offset ‘to a significant degree – or even outweighed – by the improved general health of the population’.
And what about on Bougainville Copper Limited, the Rio Tinto subsidiary that operated the Panguna mine? In 2003 Regan claimed ‘there is as yet no credible evidence BCL took any direct part in the operations against the BRA [Bougainville Revolutionary Army]‘. This was factually incorrect and ignored the damning sworn testimony from former Prime Minister Michael Somare, current ABG President, John Momis, and former PNG Defence Force Commander, Jerry Singirok that not only did BCL feed, house and resource the PNG troops, ‘they also regularly met with PNGDF commanders to discuss military operations and key offensive targets’.
Clearly the relationship between academics, governments and multinationals is a questionable one, conducted in the shadows, facilitated through taxpayer money; it is time a healthy debate is conducted. Given the profound consequences for the people of Bougainville and Papua New Guinea such a debate is more than necessary.
To read the ongoing debate see: http://pngexposed.wordpress.com/2013/03/01/bougainville-consultancies-earn-controversial-australian-advisor-a-small-fortune/
From Pacific Scoop via Reporters Sans Frontières & Pacific Media Watch
Threats to the media in the South Pacific should not be taken lightly in two Melanesian countries, says the Paris-based global press freedom advocacy group Reporters Sans Frontières.
Papua New Guinea has dropped six places to 41st in the latest RSF World Press Freedom Index with the security forces being “regularly involved in attacks on journalists”.
In Fiji, in spite of a 10-place rise to 107th – explained in part by the decline of other countries in this section of the index, news organisations are threatened under the Media Industry Development Decree with exorbitant fines, or even imprisonment, as in the case of a recently convicted editor of The Fiji Times.
Elsewhere in the South Pacific did not rate a mention in the report, which highlighted the “Burmese spring” in the Asia-Pacific region.
But among other Pacific Islands Forum countries, New Zealand rose five places to eighth and Australia climbed four places to 26th.
By Gary Juffa, MP and Governor
During my election campaign, I spent many a day and many a night making my case to village elders and chiefs, informing them of what it was I believed in and wanted to do.
Traversing many a mountain, crossing several flooded rivers and moving by dinghy to remote islands, walking across plains and valleys and meeting and greeting the ordinary folk, I asked them not to kill their chickens, pigs or cows, to refrain from feasts and singing and dancing. I asked them to give me some of their precious time, to listen and discuss with me.
“There is no need for feasting, no killing of chickens, pigs or cows. Let there be no elaborate dances and merriment. I ask you not to commit any resources. If you can, share with me a coconut, sugar cane or perhaps water. Let us be sober and reflect. These days are not days of joy. They are days of bitterness and despair. There is nothing to celebrate and be joyful for. Let us take time to discuss these days. Let us reflect on where we once were, where we are now and where our children’s tomorrow will be. Will they be in charge of their destiny or will they be spectators watching while their resources are plundered by others, cheated of their rightful inheritance, relegated to be standing on the outside in the cold and rain, to be subservient slaves, awaiting the crumbs of the riches of their land?”
And they heard me, they listened and we discussed and debated often well into the night. There was no feasting and singing and dancing and certainly no beer or fatty meats or noisy merriment.
“We have a thousand journeys to walk, much work to be done, our sweat and blood and tears must flow so that we may build a better tomorrow for our children, a tomorrow that has already been pledged by selfish politicians and middlemen and their friends from afar who only speak of profit and are spurred on by greed. Let us work hard and not tarry and not delay and not fight and biker with one another or be lazy and sleep, our hand out begging for something without having done anything, let us not allow ourselves to be fooled but let us arm ourselves with education and awareness, honesty and transparency and let us encourage each other with acts of solidarity and humility.”
I was aided by many a kind citizen who made the effort to call home, remotest villages now accessible by mobile phone, internet and social networking reaching far flung hamlets and remote huts, urging one and all to think of the future, a future that had grown suddenly dark and eerie, bleak and uncertain and to awaken from our slumber and act decisively to stand up and be heard, march, prepare for war. A war not of axes or bows and arrows and or guns although that day may come, but a war of the mind, of keen planning and heightened awareness of the powerful economic and political forces that seek to displace and remove and separate us from our land and our resources and take, take with subtle cunning knowledge and where necessary extreme force, shedding blood and spreading even death. A war we must fight, if we are to have a future, if our children are to be truly free….
Yes, we fight a war, let it be clear, let there be no doubt and confusion, if we are to build a better tomorrow for our children, we must fight many battles before this war is won and the greatest weapons, are knowledge, truth and perseverance…the greatest dangers are not our enemies but ourselves, our ignorance and our inability to act…
Rory Callnan | The Age
PARISHIONERS at the tiny Sogeri Catholic Church in the foothills of Papua New Guinea’s remote Owen Stanley Ranges pay little attention to the fact that their elderly priest has a teenage boy as his live-in helper.
But for some who knew Father Roger Mount when he was a brother working in homes run by the Catholic St John of God Order in Australia several decades ago, the scenario is disturbing.
”Bloody hell, that’s concerning. That’s not good,” says Melbourne pensioner Steve Danas, who grew up in one of the order’s homes after being orphaned at three.
Mr Danas was one of three men who came forward in the the past decade to allege they were sexually abused by the then Brother Mount at the order’s homes in Melbourne and New South Wales in the 1970s and 1980s.
In all, more than 30 former residents of the homes alleged that many brothers had been systematically abusing them from the 1960s to the 1980s. The claims led to a Victorian police investigation and the order paying out more than $4 million in compensation. But the brothers – who have denied the abuse – never faced any charges in Victoria.
A number of the brothers, including Father Mount, have been able to move into other roles where they may have regular contact with children.
This week, Fairfax Media tracked down Father Mount giving Mass to his 60-strong congregation at his small church in Sogeri, a tiny village 40 kilometres east of Port Moresby.
Outside the church, a youth said he was the priest’s live-in helper and had lived with him in a house at the back of the church since he was about 11. ‘
‘My father has given me to him when I was a boy. He is like a father to me. My father did the same job,” said the boy.
He said he had never had any concerns about his treatment by the priest, who was elderly and needed an assistant.
Father Mount vigorously denied being involved in anything inappropriate with any boy in the homes or that he posed any threat to anyone.
He said he had never been contacted by the order about the compensation payments to the alleged victims, something he thought was surprising as ”they know where I am”.
He confirmed he knew Mr Danas and another man who had received a payment from the order but said there had never been any issue between himself and the two claimants.
Asked why they the men had come forward, Father Mount speculated: ”Maybe he (Danas) wanted money”.
Father Mount said he had left the brothers in 1983 to become a priest in PNG and confirmed he had at one point been in the senior role of chancellor of the Catholic Archdiocese of Port Moresby.
He confirmed another of the order’s Brothers, William Lebler, had also worked at the home in PNG. Brother Lebler was later alleged to have abused children at the order’s homes in New Zealand but never faced court over the allegations after a NSW court ruled in the mid-2000s that he had dementia.
Father Mount said he had never seen inappropriate behaviour by any of the brothers.
Yesterday Mr Danas said he was angry that Father Mount was still with the church in PNG. ”I thought that he was dead,” said Mr Danas, who alleged that the then Brother Mount had plied him with alcohol and molested him during his time at the order’s Churinga home at Greensborough in the 1970s.
He said he had given police a statement but was told it would come down to his word against the priest’s and did not hear back from the investigating officer. ”I want to confront him,” he said. ”There should be a proper investigation.”
Fairfax Media has obtained other documents confirming the order also made payments to two other men who had alleged abuse by Father Mount.
One of the men alleged Father Mount had tried to molest him while he was recovering at the order’s Mentone hostel after surgery to remove his appendix.
He also alleged abuse by other brothers and received a payment from the order in the 2000. Father Mount said he did not know this man.
Fairfax Media has also seen a document created during settlement processes by the order involving another alleged victim in NSW who says he was abused by Father Mount while at the order’s special school.
Psychologist Dr Michelle Mulvihill, who was employed by the order to meet alleged victims during compensation negotiations, said she believed the allegations were genuine.
She called on the Catholic Church to stand down Father Mount from his parish priest role and for a proper investigation to be undertaken into the allegations.
Father Mount said this week he was willing to face his accusers. ”Yes I would come back,” he said.
Asked if would he make contact with the order now he knew about the compensation payments, he said: ”I don’t know. They might not want to hear from me.”
Archbishop John Ribat of the Port Moresby Diocese said he was unaware of the allegations. He said any investigation should be conducted in Australia where the alleged offences occurred.
Archbishop Ribat said he was aware a family was living with Father Mount, who was sickly and not fully active as a priest.
Recently on the PNG Attitude blog, Peter Kranz asked whether the Australian Church sex-abuse scandal may have a PNG dimension. He noted with concern that a number of prolific abusers were, at one stage or another, stationed in PNG (see the list below).
We may now have further reason to worry following revelations in Saturday’s Sydney Morning Herald. It was reported that between1997 and 2008 the Australian Catholic Church dealt with paedophile priests internally, sending them on a rehabilitation program for “sexual boundary violators”.
Known as the Encompass Australasia program, it was funded by the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference and the Australian Conference of Leaders of Religious Institutes. Evidently hundreds of priests from “Australia and the Asia-Pacific region” accused of, or who confessed to, sex-abuse were treated on the program.
The Sydney Morning Herald claims, “none of the clergy treated under the multi-million-dollar Encompass Australasia program run from Wesley Private Hospital in Sydney was referred to police for investigation”.
It is a worry that priests from PNG may have been among those treated. But arguably of even more concern is that the Catholic Church in PNG had a similar program.
In a 2002 Post-Courier article – recently reposted on PNG Attitude – PNG Catholic Bishops Conference General-Secretary, Lawrence Stephens, acknowledged that “the church had a ‘recovery centre’ in one of the country’s provinces for its clergy as well as the public who had ‘mental problems’ which also included paedophilia”.
The article continues, “Mr Stephens said paedophilia like other sex offences was a criminal act even if members of the religious fraternity committed it”.
It is apparent then that the Catholic Church in PNG regards child sex-abuse as a criminal act. But what is not clear from this 2002 statement, is whether child abusers were actually reported to the police, or were they alternatively sent to this “recovery centre” for treatment. Given the Australian precedent, all signs point to the latter.
More recent statements by PNG’s Catholic Bishops Conference, shed little light on the issue. According to the Conference’s National Director of Right Relationships in Ministry, Paul Harricknen, “a pastoral response to issues of sexual abuse will place emphasis on pastoral care of the victims and their families, the community, and even the offender, the offender’s family, and the non-offending clergy…When incidents of sexual abuse arise, the Church must be able to respond in a way that shows the compassion, reconciliation, forgiveness and justice of Jesus himself, towards the victim, the affected communities, and the offender”.
There is no indication from this statement whether the Church, even today, is referring sexual abuse allegations, or confessions, to the police.
Of course, it is important to keep in mind that this is not an attack on religious belief – everyone has a right to faith – this is about powerful institutions protecting criminals who endanger children.
As scandals in Ireland and Australia have evidenced in painful detail, the Church hierarchy has placed its organisational reputation ahead of child abuse victims. One insider told the Sydney Morning Herald, ”there were some outrageous situations that would have been very embarrassing for the church had they become public. Deals were cut. The whole operation was extremely confidential.”
While we cannot assume the Catholic Church in PNG also ‘cut deals’ or shielded abusers, nevertheless, like in Australia it has a large institutional interest – arguably even larger given its quasi-governmental role in PNG – in protecting its reputation. Indeed were cases of sexual abuse proven to be systematic, this would be hugely damaging for the Church in PNG.
Lets hope in light of the Australian precedent a sensitive and transparent debate occurs in PNG. With the Church playing a critical role in the delivery of services, parents in PNG must know that their children are safe.
List of Paedophile Priests who Served in PNG
The list was compiled by the Australian victims support organisation Broken Rites.
Edmund John Haines, committed child-sex crimes but he was caught when someone found child porn on the priest’s mobile phone, a court has been told. Known by his middle name (as John Haines), he grew up in Geelong, 75km south-west of Melbourne, Australia. John Haines entered the Catholic priesthood via a “backdoor” opportunity in Papua New Guinea, where priests were scarce.
He later left PNG under mysterious circumstances and returned to Australia without clear career prospects. Then the Melbourne archdiocese, which was short of priests, accepted him for parish work in its Geelong parishes, thereby giving him access to children. The Melbourne church authorities did not look too closely into (or did not care about) Haines’ background. Haines pleaded guilty in the Geelong County Court in the state of Victoria to six counts of an indecent act with a child under 16, procurement of a minor for child pornography and possessing child porn.
Father Denis McAlinden was protected for 40 years by the Church while he committed sexual crimes against young girls in parishes around Australia and also overseas. For years, the Maitland-Newcastle diocese had been transferring McAlinden backwards and forwards between New South Wales and Western Australia after he abused children in each of those states.
The Maitland-Newcastle diocese also arranged for him to be “warehoused” in Papua New Guinea for several years, in the middle of his career. (He was based in Mendi diocese for 4 years.) The Church also arranged for him to spend a year doing parish work in New Zealand to protect him from exposure in Australia
Brother Rodger William Moloney was jailed in 2008 after the St John of God order to which he belonged spent over $1,000,000 on his defence. Moloney spent some time at SJOG’s operations in Papua New Guinea. He has been a member of the SJOG provincial council (administering the order’s operations in Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific).
Marist Brother Malcolm Hall was charged with multiple sex crimes against boys and girls in 1998. But before the case came to trial he collapsed and died. When the first allegation against Hall were made the Marist Brothers transferred Brother Malcolm out of Australia — beyond the reach of the Australian police.
Thereafter (according to details given in his death notice in the Herald Sun) Brother Hall worked in church institutions in Peshawar (in Pakistan) and in Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands — places where sexual abuse by church personnel is more difficult to expose. There is no way of knowing about his behaviour in those countries. Thus, the Marist Brothers protected their brand name in Australia.