Law and order
There were high levels of violent crime across the country. Land disputes, riots and violence between communities were common. At least 70 people were believed to have died in 2006 in the long-running feud between the Ulga and Kulga tribes in the Nebilyer region of the Western Highlands.
A state of emergency, which was declared in August in the Southern Highlands, remained in place at the end of the year.
In Bougainville, former combatants who had remained outside the peace process rearmed, contributing to the high level of gun crime on the island.
A report by the National Gun Committee recommending reforms to combat the proliferation of illegal firearms had still not been tabled to Parliament one year after its submission to the government.
There were major changes in the leadership of the police force. There was little public confidence in the ability of the police to fight crime. The police complained of limited resources; however, they often appeared to actively avoid involvement in sensitive local cases for fear of reprisals. Poor data collection by the police, or incompetent prosecution, particularly in cases of violence against women, often undermined efforts to deliver justice, and many cases were dismissed by the courts following inadequate or delayed investigations.
Violations by the police
There were persistent reports of police brutality against detainees, including rape and other forms of torture. In the absence of clear and systematic accountability mechanisms, officers accused of violence were rarely investigated or prosecuted.
The government was not known to have responded to a request by the UN Special Rapporteur on torture to visit the country made at the beginning of the year.
• Although two police officers were charged in January for the shooting of unarmed schoolboys in Enga province in October 2005, the police had not sent the cases to the public prosecutor by the end of the year.
• By the end of the year, none of the officers accused of involvement in the rape and other ill-treatment of women and girls arrested during a raid on Three Mile Guest House in Port Moresby in March 2004 had faced prosecution.
Violence against women
Violence in the home and community affected the majority of women in the country. Women human rights activists undertook essential work offering counselling, shelters and legal advice to survivors of violence, with little or no support from the government.
Increases in sexual crimes were reported in at least three provinces. Port Moresby, Lae and settlements around other cities were the worst affected.
In a high-profile case in January, a provincial governor was sentenced to 12 years' imprisonment for rape. However, few incidents of violence against women were reported or investigated, and the perpetrators were rarely punished.
Women continued to suffer widespread "sorcery-related" abuses. In Chimbu province alone, approximately 150 were believed to be killed each year for allegedly practicing witchcraft.
The government initiated some measures to address the HIV/AIDS epidemic. However, impunity and social attitudes surrounding violence against women fuelled the spread of the disease.
In April, the new Minister for Justice ruled out a return to executions and said that he would work towards abolishing the death penalty.
Three men who had been under sentence of death since 1997 had their sentences commuted to life imprisonment after the appeal court found that the trial judge had mistakenly assumed he was required by law to impose the death penalty.
AI country reports/visits
• Papua New Guinea: Violence against women - not inevitable, never acceptable! (AI Index: ASA 34/002/2006)
• Papua New Guinea: Women human rights defenders in action (AI Index: ASA 34/004/2006)
An AI delegation visited Port Moresby in September.