Monday, September 05, 2005

In Papua New Guinea, An Epidemic of Police Brutality Against Children

Torture, gang rapes, and other abuses have become common in law enforcement in Papua New Guinea according to a Rights Action Report.

The 124-page report, “Making Their Own Rules’: Police Beatings, Rape, and Torture of Children in Papua New Guinea,” documents boys and girls being shot, knifed, kicked and beaten by gun butts, iron bars, wooden batons, fists, rubber hoses and chairs. Some are forced to chew and swallow condoms. Eyewitnesses describe gang rapes in police stations, vehicles, barracks and other locations. Children are also routinely detained with adults in sordid police lockups and denied medical care.

“Extreme physical violence is business as usual for the Papua New Guinea police,” said Zama Coursen-Neff, senior researcher for Human Rights Watch’s Children’s Rights Division. “Instead of protecting the public and children from violence, it is the police who are committing some of the most heinous acts of violence imaginable.”

Australia is the largest source of aid to Papua New Guinea, much of which goes to support the police, yet Australia does not make promotion of human rights an explicit purpose or condition of its aid. Australian officials admit that aid to the police has failed to reduce violence and other human rights violations by officers.

In addition to being abusive, Human Rights Watch said that police violence is ineffective in the face of the country's serious crime problem. Violent police tactics make people fearful of approaching police even to report crime and reluctant to cooperate with investigations. Even government studies have found police increasingly unable to fight crime.

One positive development has been the recent establishment by the Papua New Guinea government of juvenile courts and guidelines for police, magistrates and others designed to divert children from detention.

A Human Risghts Watch spokesman called the new guidelines "a step in the right direction."


Post a Comment

<< Home