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Tuesday, 11 December


Accessing justice: police responses to domestic violence "IndyWatch Feed"

This is the final blog presenting the findings of a research project exploring the impact of family and sexual violence (FSV) on families and children. Previous blogs have looked at services to address FSV in Lae, the impact on families, and the impact on school attendance. This post presents our findings on the relationship between the women in our study and the police, including the reasons they did or did not seek police help. This is important in light of the focus over the past decade on the police and criminal justice system in responding to family violence, as reflected in the enactment of the Family Protection Act 2013 and the rollout of specialist Family Sexual Violence Units (FSVU) in many police stations.

Overall, the emerging findings of our study, detailed below, suggest caution with regard to the adoption of policies such as mandatory arrests, or no-drop policies, that remove agency from the survivors and may push them even further from the system that is ostensibly established to support them.

Women navigate between informal and formal support mechanisms

Although there are valid reasons to object to binary distinctions between formal and informal justice systems, given the hybridity that characterises much of PNG, we use the terms formal and informal to reflect how the different mechanisms are conceived by our 71 interviewees. The main informal community mechanism available to women are the blok komitis (see here and here), an ubiquitous feature of local governance in PNGs urban settlement communities. Blok komitis can be problematic for women seeking to address FSV and IPV for a number of reasons. For instance, they charge table fees which many women cannot afford, and the outcomes often involve compensation payments, the terms and prices of which are set at the discretion of the komiti. They are also often based on local ethnic or social groupings, so members of the komiti may be kin to the perpetrator. Moreover,...



Im compelled to write about the most recent turn of events that unfolded before us in the light of Mr ONeills desperate moves to cling onto power. A case in point is the unpopular and unconstitutional tactics applied to withholding the K2 million DSIP cheques for all opposition MPs for the last 4 weeks.

That is 2 Provinces and 21 districts suffering as a result of such evil agendas being pursued relentlessly by people who are not yet done with corruption. If average population for each of the 21 districts is 40,000 and 200,000 in average for the two provinces than you are looking at more than a million people in this country are suffering for this gross neglect. Realistically there could be close to a quarter of the entire population in PNG suffering as we speak. As if the people havent suffered long enough due to their deliberate failures to fairly appropriate care and now has the audacity to hide and keep the DSIP cheques for 4 weeks in a row now. These money do not belong to the opposition MPs but they belong to the people they represent and its them who are suffering

Reliable informations from the corridors of Waigani prove that the cheques trail leads all the way to the Chief Secretary Issack Luparis office. Rumor has it that the Chief Secretary has been nicknamed the Super Minister where all MPs (accept the opposition MPs) pay reverence or be submissive to his office to have access to their rightful funds.

That calls into question why the Chief of all Public servants abruptly becomes the Chief of all elected MPs or Chief Minister and demean the people of which the submissive MPs represent.

But that is the Engan way where if even one with a smaller status is given a slightest hint of power can even use it to play giants into submission. Look at likes of Chan, Wingti, Ipatas, Nali, Duma etc... to name a few.

For years Ive always thought that the people of Wabag Open were so dumb to not elect such a national elite as Mr Lupari to represent them in the parliament. Someone whose resume does not stop to impress the eyes of the beholder. The very reason why theyve been prompted to elevate him to the highest of the civil servants position in this land.

But with the blind selfish ego of the man and his series of deliberate evil neglectful decisions uttered from his office, put to rest my question of old why Mr Lupari is not their num...

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Monday, 10 December


Anticipating the 2019 Solomon Islands elections "IndyWatch Feed"

Solomon Islands is expected to hold national elections in March 2019, the first since the departure of the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI) in June 2017. This blog highlights a number of issues to look out for as the country steps up electoral preparations.

Electoral politics

Becoming a member of parliament (MP) in Solomon Islands brings with it access to substantial financial resources, and national elections herald a time of intense politicking as aspiring MPs jockey for office and the accompanying benefits. While there appears little risk of generalised election-related violence, there is always potential for localised conflict. In the past, disgruntled candidates have damaged polling stations and supporters have engaged in brawls. Following the 2014 election, a boat used by politicians from a particular political faction was damaged by gunshots just before a parliamentary vote to form government. The May 2018 Gizo-Kolambangara by-election was notable for its intensive campaigning.

Historically, elections in Solomon Islands have seen high turnover rates with around 50 per cent of incumbent MPs losing their seat. This has bolstered a perception that politics in Solomon Islands is inherently unstable and meant that observers have looked to elections for signs of political stabilisation. The 2014 national election was an electoral outlier for its significantly lower incumbent turnover rates, with 74 per cent of sitting MPs returned. It is unclear why this occurred, but it may have something to do with the large constituency development funds provided to incumbent MPs during the previous parliament. For the coming election, sitting MPs will have had access to about US $1 million a year. To put this in perspective, the median electorate in 2014 had just 5,391 registered voters. Many MPs have used these weakly-regulated funds to try to consolidate their power. It will be interesting to see if this provides an incumbent advantage, with lower parliamentary turnover becoming the new normal.

The 2014 elections saw only one woman elected  Freda Tuki. She was joined by Lanelle Tanangada following the Gizo-Kolombangara by-election. Tuki eventually lost an electoral petition in October 2018, which led to her losing her seat. But with both women in parliament (t...

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Sunday, 09 December


FSV, childrens school attendance and strategies used by schools to help "IndyWatch Feed"

Previously, we introduced our research project in Lae and provided some emerging results on the links between family and sexual violence (FSV) and financial hardship among the women we interviewed. This blog shares some emerging findings on the impact of FSV on school attendance, and the strategies used by schools to assist students experiencing periods of violence. It is based on interviews with 71 women, as well as senior staff in a number of Lae schools.

FSV and school attendance

65 of the 71 women we interviewed had experienced FSV. 29 (45 per cent) spoke about how their experiences with FSV negatively impacted their childrens school attendance. Of the 29, 18 said their children had dropped out of school as a result, and nine that their children were only attending from time to time. Another four said that their children were attending, but were negatively affected.

Figure 1: Reasons for the negative impact of FSV on childrens school attendance (N = 31 observed responses from 29 women)

As Figure 1 shows, financial hardship was the main reason for children dropping out of school. Many women were unable to meet the various costs involved in sending their children to school despite the governments tuition fee free education policies. The costs of sending children to school include school project fees that many schools in PNG charge over and above the government provided school subsidies to sustain their school activities. Other costs include basics such as stationery, uniforms, bus fare and lunch. Some children ventured into income-earning avenues such as collecting plastic bottles to sell water to generate income to pay for bus fares or even school fees. Other children dropped out of school for years until their parents saved enough money to send them back. Loss of interest, shame, fear, abuse, trauma and seeking refuge in other homes after episodes of FSV were also reasons for children not attending school....

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Thursday, 06 December


Leprosy was thought to be eliminated in Papua New Guinea but its back "IndyWatch Feed"

At the start of the 21st century, Papua New Guinea declared that leprosy was eliminated.

Eliminated but not eradicated. With the rate dropping below the World Health Organizations elimination threshold  one in ten thousand the nations government redirected scarce health money elsewhere. But leprosy never went away. Eighteen years later, leprosy is back with a vengeance in Australias nearest neighbour. The dreaded bacterial disease can take years or decades to incubate, with steadily worsening disability from nerve damage, such as a hand frozen into an unusable claw. But the historic scourge is now readily treatable with antibiotics, with excellent outcomes if treated early.

Retired GP Dr Colin Martin, the chair of Leprosy Mission Australia, told newsGP that Leprosy never went away in PNG. Its a complicated place, with all these valleys with poor access The government is prioritising HIV, tuberculosis and malaria. Leprosy doesnt seem as exciting. But from an individual perspective, its a catastrophic disease due to the stigma, social dislocation and disability it causes.

Now, leprosy is spreading again, with clusters in poor settlements on the outskirts of the capital, Port Moresby, and in remote villages. The disease is much more common amongst women and children, and is spread through cohabitation.

Logistics is shaping up as a major problem. There are caches of antibiotics stored in major cities, but getting them to remote river valleys or up into the misty highlands can be hugely challenging.

A person might walk a full day to a clinic to find that their medications for the next month arent there, Dr Martin said.

In PNG, the Leprosy Mission helps get people diagnosed and treated and gives vocational training to people with the disease. For people whose disease is caught late, the organisation gives supportive devices, arranges reconstructive surgeries and even supplies sunglasses for sufferers who have lost the ability to close their eyes.

Rosa Koian is a project manager with the Leprosy Mission Papua New Guinea. She said their Port Moresby operation had seen around 400 new cases in recent years. A lot are undetected, she told newsGP, Weve identified children who dont want to go to school because their teachers thought they might pass the disease on to the next child. Weve got four of those back in school Papua New Guineans live in crowded conditions. People with leprosy live in with their families and thats how the bacteria spreads. We have some families where the whole family has it.

When Rosa or one of the organisations 52 fieldworkers suspects som...


Fortnightly links: Development Bulletin No. 80, language barriers in crises, Islamophobia and support for ISIS, and more "IndyWatch Feed"

The latest Development Bulletin has been published, and its a bumper issue filled with articles on development in the Pacific, past, present and future.

This article in The Economist discusses ways in which language problems are a challenge to crisis responses.

The Australian Medical Research Advisory Board has recommended an Australian Global Medical Research Fund as part of its priorities for the next two years.

Is there a relationship between Islamophobia and support for ISIS? Smart new research from Tamar Mitts drawing on data from Twitter suggests there is. (Journal article here; open access here.)

Pakistan has one of the worlds highest rates of abortion, this NPR article explains.

As the Syrian crisis continues, Rukban has become, to its residents, a symbol of the international communitys inability (or unwillingness) to help, writes Rozina Ali for The New Yorker.

The post Fortnightly links: Development Bulletin No. 80, language barriers in crises, Islamophobia and support for ISIS, and more appeared first on Devpolicy Blog from the Development Policy Centre.


From arrows to M16s: PNG tribal fights get ever deadlier "IndyWatch Feed"

Tribes in Papua New Guinea's rough and rugged highlands have fought each other for centuries, but a recent influx of automatic weapons risks turning minor beefs into all-out war.

Israel Laki misses the old days -- just a few years ago -- when clansmen would settle fights in what he deems the proper way: with bows, arrows, axes and spears.

It was honourable, he insists, even if an arrow once thumped within millimetres of his heart as he tried to axe a rival tribal fighter to death.

The wiry 69-year-old still carries the scars and spirit of the old ways from this picturesque part of central Papua New Guinea, which westerners only reached in the 1930s.

Even today, the modern state is little more than an abstract concept in the isolated region, where few respect the government.

Old rivalries persist, as do fights over rape, theft and tribal boundaries.

But tradition is increasingly melding with modernity, to devastating effect.

Locals now speak darkly of an influx of American M16s, AR-15s and Belgian FNs -- all brutally effective rifles designed for the military -- and of roving mercenaries and arms dealers willing to work for cash, pigs or women.

- Tribal arms race -

Papua New Guinea's population has more than doubled since 1980, placing increasing strain on land and resources and deepening tribal rivalries.

Elsewhere in the country however, tribal fights have become rare or ritualistic, thanks, in part, to urbanisation and the fear of firearms igniting an ever-escalating conflict.

But in Enga province, regional police commander Joseph Tondop has already seen dozens die during the three months that he has been on the job.

"I was surprised to see people armed with very high-powered weapons and they are just killing each other by the side of the road," he told AFP.

The surge in violence has prompted a company of around 100 government soldiers under the command of a Sandhurst-trained major to establish a makeshift garrison at a hotel in the main town of Wabag.

"They decide to take the law into their own hands and apply justice amongst themselves. Jungle justice," said Tondop.

Under this system "one person's problem becomes everyone's problem".


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Wednesday, 05 December


Family and sexual violence and its impact on families in Lae "IndyWatch Feed"

In April 2018, as part of a research project into family and sexual violence (FSV), we interviewed women from a range of communities in Lae, PNGs second largest city. In this blog, we share some insights from the stories we heard relating to the financial pressures women face because of violence, and the impact of that violence on families and the next generation(s). Financial hardship is widespread, and impacts both on womens ability to access justice services, and also upon their ability to leave violent relationships and still support themselves and educate their children.

Violence and financial hardship

49 of the 71 women who came to see us (55 from informal settlements, 15 from formal residential areas, and one from a rural area) were the victims of intimate partner violence (IPV) (Figure 1). For 20 of these 49 women, their experience of IPV also involved other people, such as the husbands other partner. In 16 cases, the perpetrator was not an intimate partner but another family member, such as a son. Most women (36 out of 49) experiencing IPV remained in the abusive relationship (the orange bar), and indeed many expressed a determination to continue in the relationship.

Figure 1: Participants experiencing or who have experienced FSV (N=71)

With or without violence, most of the women we interviewed live precarious lives. They had low educational backgrounds, earned low incomes, and worked in the informal sector. 42 per cent earned less than K100 a fortnight. 60 per cent worked on a tebol maket (table market) or haus maket (house market), the common references to small market stalls, selling goods outdoors near their homes.

Of the 49 women who suffered violence at the hands of their intimate partner, including IPV that involved other people, 71 per cent related experiences about how violence led to financial hardship (Figure 2). Financial hardship was common for women still involved in abusive relationships, and even more so for those who were separated.

Figure 2: Experience of IPV involving financial hardship (N=49)


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Tuesday, 04 December




Papua New Guinean development aspirations are all jumbled up and not in order. The National Government should invest its resources including Money where it will improve the lives of its people.

From my observation and experience, there is more grandstanding on the political level building statuesque and echo more than planning on bringing tangible development to communities and towns by elected representatives from both sides of the house.

The following important key development areas should be prioritized.

1. Improving Road and Bridges :
Opening up and connecting the rural PNG communities through improved Road and Bridges will give an opportunity for our people to work on their land by converting ideal land to economic value by planting cash crops and livestock on a commercial scale. The Department of Works should be reviewed and upgraded to function independently. The Department should operate as independently as possible

2. Improving and empowering Department of Agriculture and Livestock.
Department of Agriculture and Livestock must be empowered through training and improving the industry. All AGRICULTURE colleges should be funded and improved to impart new knowledge with students joining the workforce. Through constant support, this industry will one day be the highest income earner contributing to the National Government Budget.

3. Improving Human Resources through quality education.
The country's most important asset is its human resources. The government should focus on training its human resources including citizens who are considered as system dropouts. Everyone passing through the Education system should be able to get engaged in various capacities so their service should be rendered. Any positive change in society is achievable only through an Educated population.

4. Improving Health system in the country.
The government must improve our country's Health system giving as the country needs a healthy population to pursue its development aspirations.

5. The Provincial Government system should be abolished and be replaced with Local authorities to drive the National Government development agendas. Employees at the provincial government should be absorbed into the public service domain so their performance criteria are measured through ther...


Unequal Thailand: trends and consequences "IndyWatch Feed"

Thailand has experienced rapid growth and a structural transformation since the 1950s. However, Thailand has also experienced growth without equity. Although it has fallen in recent years, Thailands Gini index has been above 0.40 for the last 30 years. This is high by Asian standards, and makes Thailand look like China rather than Taiwan and South Korea.

Figure 1 Gini coefficient for Thailand and other Asian countries

Looking at income share by quintile, we can see that the richest 20 per cent own about 50 per cent of Thailands national income. This share has slightly fallen over the last 30 years. However, in 2013, the poorest 20 per cent still received only seven per cent of the countrys prosperity.

Figure 2 Income shares by quintile for Thailand

According to Albert Hirschman, the losers from economic development can tolerate income inequality at the beginning because they hope and expect that the windfall will be shared soon. However, if eventually the gap between the rich and the poor does not fall over time, the losers become intolerant. They think that this kind of economic growth is unfair. The result is social movements and political unrest. A well-known example is the Occupy movement protests by young people against economic inequality that began in New York in 2011 and spread to other countries such as Brazil, Spain, and India.

Why hasnt high inequality led to protests in Thailand? It is hard to believe that the modest reduction in inequality in the reason.

There are other, more compelling reasons for why inequality is not a press...

Friday, 15 November


UKE KOMBRA....and TVET "IndyWatch Feed"

Our Government is emphasizing and actually allocating resources to
 ensuring access and quality education. Education Department cannot
 do it along in meeting demands; therefore we will have to work in
 partnership with everyone- provinces, Members of Parliament,
 community and even development partners. Minister James Marape
 is leading in making sure that there is dialogue and communication at
 all levels. Im pushing for greater recognition of TVET
Conversation with Dr. Uke Kombra, Mt. Hagen, 12th September

A prominent scholar and senior educationalist, and he is the number one promoter, Uke Kombra was at his best, when he spoke so eloquently and truthfully about his favourite subject, the Technical and Vocational Education; often referred to as TVET. Uke is now the First Assistant Secretary, the man in charge of TVET, and he who spoke at the occasion in Mt Hagen Technical College on Wednesday during the official ceremonial opening of the three projects funded by the people and Government of Australia to the tune of ten million kina. It is the beginning of the colleges modernization programme.

Hundreds of people, including children, local leaders and even singing and dancing groups from Morobe, Tari, Enga, Asaro and senor Waigani bureaucrats and development partner representatives took part in what was described as the most colourful event. It was also the time for celebration for a state institution that has suffered for years of neglect in terms of recognition and funding. The grant money from Australia, via the Incentive Funding Scheme came to the college, thanks to the sheer hard work put in by the administration and lecturers of the Mt. Hagen Technical College. That support for MH...


Temu Pkwaveto is Bulolo Lord Mayor "IndyWatch Feed"

An unassuming middle age man was leaning against a wooden pole of a housewin in the compounds of Pine Lodge in Bulolo. This is the venue of a three day workshop for Local Level Government Leaders which is being arranged by the Member for Bulolo and Deputy Leader of the Opposition, Sam Basil.

The Member for Parliament for Bulolo has decided that he would need to run a workshop for the newly elected LLG Leaders in his district; which is meant to take them through a number of important interventions; among which involve the need for leaders to be made aware about public financial regulations, not least of course is the recently approved and distributed financial instructions and the administrative directions issued by Government following the passing of the national budget that provided direct funding to Provincial Service Improvement Programme, the District Service Improvement Programme and of course the Local Level Government Service Improvement Programme. The workshop will run for three days, beginning Monday 26thand ending Thursday 29th August 2013.Other subject matter being addressed at the workshop concerned with the roles, responsibilities and mandate of the Joint District Planning and Budgets Priority Committee.

Anyway, the forty-five old man at the corner of a table, at a location arranged for the workshop is Temu Pkwaveto; the Mayor elect of the Bulolo-Wau Urban Local Level Government.Temu is from the Okanaiwa 
village in the Menyameya Sub-District of the Wau Bulolo Electorate. Many years ago, in 1981 Temu left school at grade six and went on to secure an employment as an assistant shopkeeper in at local trade store. In 1989, he decided to go on his own, so he started his own trading business in mini supermarket at Wau that has a population of about fourt...

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