Archive for crime

Overseas mining companies importing crime and violence into Papua New Guinea

Posted in Crime - general with tags , , on January 27, 2010 by crimeandcorruptionpng

Recent revelations about the behavior of security guards employed by Barrack Gold’s at its Pogera mine and the use of Fijian mercenaries at the Simberi gold mine, reveal how foreign mining companies can increase lawlessness and invoke violent reprisals.

In October last year, Sarah Knuckey, a lawyer at the center for human rights at New York University School of Law, told a Canadian parliamentary hearing security guards working at Barrack Gold’s Pogera mine in Papua New Guinea habitually gang rape local women.

Knuckly told the hearing “the guards, usually in a group of five or more, find a woman while they are patrolling on or near mine property. They take turns threatening, beating and raping her. In a number of cases, women reported to me being forced to chew and swallow condoms used by guards during the rape.”

Amnesty International has also complained about the actions of police employed as guards at the Pogera mine. In December last year Amnesty revealed that local police had violently evicted local families and burned down and destroyed at least 130 buildings and houses. While Barrack Gold initially denied the allegations, the company was later forced to accept the findings.

Meanwhile it has been revealed that the Simberi gold mine has been illegally employing 14 Fijian mercenaries to guard its mining operations in New Ireland province. The mercenaries were working without valid visa’s and their employment by the mine company provoked an angry response from local landowners.

The local police commander in New Ireland described the mercenaries as a ‘private army’ brought in to control protests by local landowners over the mines environmental performance. Landowners in New Ireland allege the mercenaries were flown in with their own firearms.

Lawyer rubbishes ExxonMobil denial of responsibility for mass shooting

Posted in Crime - general, Uncategorized with tags , , on January 27, 2010 by crimeandcorruptionpng

A prominent lawyer in Mount Hagan, Papua New Guinea, has rubbished cliams by ExxonMobil that the death of 11 people in a tribal dispute has nothing to do with the company or its massive $15billion liquified natural gas project.

Papau New Guinea was stuned on Monday when news of the 11 deaths from a gun battle involving high powered rifles and the destruction of up to 270 homes emerged from the remote Southern Highlands region. The deaths reportedly occurred as a result of a tribal dispute over benefit sharing from ExxonMobils gas project.

However, ExxonMobil quickly moved to deny the deaths were in any way related to the company or its LNG project, saying instead that it was “a long standing tribal dispute”.

These denials did not impress a prominent human rights lawyer who works in Papua New Guinea’s Southern Highland region and is well versed in large scale resource developments. “What a load of cr*p” she responded when told of ExxonMobils denials.

“The fact is that none of the killings would have happened if the developer [ExxonMobil] and the government had obtained the prior informed consent of the indigenous local people to the project going ahead”.

“ExxonMobil has failed to identify the resource owners. It has not resourced them to understand the dealings and developments that are proposed. They don’t have their own advisors or experts or even an advisory council.”

“If Exxon says its not their fault, that makes me sick”

ExxonMobil’s denial of responsibility was, rather bizarrely, backed up by the PNG police. Highlands police commander Jimmy Onopia could not confirm the number of deaths and said police had not been able to access the remote area, but he was able to state categorically “It is definitely not linked to do with the LNG project.” He was though unable to say how he came to that conclusion.

Corruption is well documented in the PNG police force and teams of officers often act as private security for foreign owned businesses.

Welcome on a guided tour of Port Moresby’s Chinese underworld

Posted in Corruption - general, Crime - general with tags , , on January 26, 2010 by crimeandcorruptionpng

Clement Kaupa

From high stakes gambling to designer drugs, high profile prostitution and the import of counterfeit products, the PNG underworld is being ruled by persons from a certain Asian nationality.

Beyond the alluring neon splash of Port Moresby’s glitzy night-life exists a murky underworld of illegal high-stakes gambling, subtle bribery, designer drugs and high-profile prostitution. These are no longer rumours; a reliable source with inside knowledge confirmed these highly illicit activities to be happening with blatant disregard for the laws of the land.

High class prostitutes from Asia are a key part of the underworld scene

The source, who wished anonymity (for apparent reasons), claimed these activities are perpetrated by resident persons from a single Asian nationality.The source said the high-stakes gambling and use of designer drugs referred to by them as the “bean” (a derivative of highly addictive manufactured drug Ecstasy) are somewhat restricted for their personal amusement (mostly due to affordability rather than moral conscience) but “bribery” and “high-profile prostitution” involving imported professional sex-workers are masterfully concealed and marketed to an appreciating demand in Papua New Guinea for fast money and promiscuous sex.

The bribery component, according to the source, is ingeniously incorporated into the mechanism of PNG’s own brand of the notorious “Black Market Dinau Moni”; a highly lucrative street money-lending scheme that operates purely on trust and the need for discretion. But the former deflects from the latter’s exorbitant interest rates (40%-50%) and rigid repayment schedule (1-2 weeks), zeroing in on the trust and discretion aspects alone.

Monies loaned out by these people are interest-free with no conditions attached apart from a subtle line “pay me back when you can”. The real shocker drops in the amounts loaned-out. According to the source, cold-hard cash from anywhere between K2000 to K20,000 (even more) are known to exchange hands at the ease and speed it takes to make a phone call. It does not end there; the source said an individual can owe these people excessive amounts in additional loans at any one time.

And only an “exotic hostess” (imported prostitute) possesses the savvy to pop the cork on the celebratory ‘bottle of bubbly’ with that ‘exact’ measure of finesse to ease the cloying air of embarrassment and uneasiness every time a transaction transpires, always in inconspicuous locations, which is usually a posh air-conditioned backroom of a club or upmarket restaurant (hotel rooms are considered too obvious for their comfort).

A startling number of high profile nationals are already entangled in the sticky-sweet web spawned through subtlety and deception. Short of disclosing names, the source implied the majority of these persons to be in strategic positions at executive levels of leading public and private institutions. Thus, the much hyped “on the payroll” phrase does have merit after-all. The source said these persons borrow their way into dual servitude and are no longer serving the interests of Papua New Guinea alone.

And that is one facet of the operation. Counterfeit products is another. The source said fake products are circulating in bulk but ingenuously saturated among genuine items throughout Papua New Guinea. What you think is the authentic Reebok or Red Joe Jean or Pall Mall cigarette might actually be a copy-cat version. “You can never know for sure,” the source said. According to the source, this specific Asian grouping are ideally suited to accomplish this feat because; “They have multitudes of unregistered small scale back-alley factories highly specialised in counterfeiting back in their home country; And they have an excellent nation-wide retail network developed over the years that is proving very efficient in the distribution and merchandising of counterfeit goods like no other”.

The source told of an individual of that nationality who had financed the counterfeiting, shipment and distribution of Pall Mall cigarettes a while back. According to the source, the estimated street retail value of one 20-foot container of cigarettes is K4.5 – K5 million. The source said the person managed to ship and fully distribute five capacity containers before word leaked-out and his operation was terminated. He walked away with somewhere between K15 million and K20 million, give or take a couple of thousands in bribery expenses.

But contrary to rising sentiments today that international crime syndicates are already operating in the country, given further credibility by the recent spate of attempted assassinations and organised kidnappings, the source believes Papua New Guinea is not faced with that menace yet. According to the source these are isolated one-off crimes that are commissioned by individuals rather than an organised mob. But the source conceded that the possibility is there because a network is already in place.
“It is only a matter of time and opportunity,” the source said

Chinese business owner shot and killed in Port Moresby

Posted in Crime - general with tags , on January 26, 2010 by crimeandcorruptionpng

By MOHAMMAD BASHIR

Even the heavy presence of police and warders over the weekend did not deter criminals from shooting a Chinese businessman at the Gordon industrial area in daylight on Saturday.

In an apparent attempted hold-up that did not work, the criminals shot Mr Zhang Chunliu, 36, when he had just closed his shop and was trying to drive home. Mr Liu as he is known was shot twice under his chest and the bullets penetrated his body and out the other end by criminals in a black jeep. He was rushed to the Port Moresby General hospital but was pronounced dead on arrival.

According to his relatives, there were three previous attempts to hold-up Mr Liu but all failed. Mr Liu owns Antai Ltd, which operates a wholesale and retail and is reported to have dealt with plenty of cash daily. News of the shooting spread like fire and in no time the accident and emergency ward car park was swamped with people, mainly Chinese nationals. Shocked friends and relatives could not hold back and shed tears openly in disbelief.

Mr Liu is survived by his wife and two young children who were born in Port Moresby. A moved president of the China-PNG Friendship Association (CPNGFA) Stanley Shi expressed disbelief that innocent Chinese were being targeted. “This (PNG) is our second motherland and we have done a lot to help communities in need and foster a good relationship but we do not understand why criminals should target us,” he said.

Deputy head of mission and Counsellor Zheng Kang of the Chinese Embassy condemned the violent killing and said the culprits should be rounded up and prosecuted. “He (Liu) was an honest businessman entitled to be protected by the law,” Mr Kang, who was at the hospital said. He said authorities must take pre-emptive measures to provide a safe environment for both Chinese and PNG citizens to live.

CPNGFA vice president Michael Lin said Chinese and PNG people must live and work together to help upgrade their livelihoods and become self sufficient. “Only when we live and co-operate together, can we learn from each other and impart what either group lacks,” he said.

Eleven killed in PNG ExxonMobil dispute

Posted in Crime - general with tags , , , on January 25, 2010 by crimeandcorruptionpng

AAP

Eleven Papua New Guineans have been fatally shot amid a dispute over profits from a pipeline carrying liquid natural gas (LNG) from an ExxonMobil site in PNG’s Southern Highlands to Port Moresby, local media reports.

A gang of villagers from Erave district, in the Southern Highlands, attacked their neighbouring clan with high-powered guns in an early morning raid over the weekend.

Women and children fled as homes were torched and property destroyed in the attack, which killed 11 people, PNG’s Post Courier newspaper reports.

The raid is believed to be retaliation for a previous killing that happened in the lead-up to LNG benefit-sharing negotiations last December.

Thousands of landowners from a variety of groups are set to profit from an $16 billion LNG project that from 2014 will pump gas from the Southern Highlands to the capital Port Moresby 600km away, before shipping it to mainly Asian buyers for a predicted 30 years.

The landowners affected by the pipeline spent weeks cutting a deal with the PNG government, but tensions remain as some landowners believe they missed out or were excluded from the talks.

PNG’s Highlands region is notorious for tribal conflicts and payback attacks for a variety of reasons from land disputes to pig distribution.

The conflicts are often tied to ongoing fights dating back decades.

Comment was being sought from ExxonMobil.

Commentators lament ‘institutionalized disorder’ and ‘a nation in trouble’

Posted in Corruption - general, Crime - general with tags , , on January 25, 2010 by crimeandcorruptionpng

Prominent commentators have responded to the announcement that legal firm Gadens will no longer represent Bank South Pacific because of violent attacks on its lawyers with grave concerns about the future for Papua New Guinea.

Former High Court judge and prominent environmentalist, Brian Brunton has described the situation in PNG as ‘institutionalised disorder’.

Institutionalized disorder, he writes, is a theory of political science originating in West African but which is now quite generalized and can be seen in Papua New Guinea and also Central America (with drug-cartels) and in Israel (where right-wing settlers in the West bank steal Arab land).

A key feature of institutionalized disorder is the fact that disorder is maintained by elite thieves primarily for their own benefit, but consequently all criminals are able to take advantage.

At the same time the Post Courier newspaper’s has spoken of the crucial role a fair and independent judiciary plays in maintaining democracy. Where you see a nation’s judiciary in trouble, you will see a nation in trouble, they say, “for without honest and fearless judges, magistrates and lawyers, you will find people cringing in fear of those who rule over them”.

Is that now the situation we have reached in Papua New Guinea – are we living in fear of those we have elected to govern us?

Certainly our elected politicians, with one or two rare exceptions, do not appear to have any pretence that they have been given power in order to serve the people. Rather, they see their elevation to Parliament as an opportunity to grab as much for themselves and their cronies as they possibly can while sometimes inadvertently, and sometimes deliberately, destroying everything else in the process.

Child sex abuse is widespread throughout Papua New Guinea

Posted in Crime - general with tags , , on January 24, 2010 by crimeandcorruptionpng

By PETER KORUGL

Kyla (not her real name) is an orphan and lives in Port Moresby, the capital of Papua New Guinea (PNG) with an aunt who has six children of her own. Her aunt’s husband is a labourer earning about K80 a fortnight.

“I don’t know how I got involved in selling sex. My friends (school girls) were already selling sex. I started at the age of 12. My boyfriend forced me. At that time I needed the money to buy clothes and food for myself.  That is the reason why,” Kyla said.

The young girl revealed this in a 2006 interview with a study team that researched into child sex abuse and commercial sexual exploitation of children in PNG. The study was conducted by Help Resources and Family and Sexual Violence Action Committee (FSVAC) and its report, published by the State Department for Community Development (DCD), highlights that Klya is not the only one selling sex in the country.

The report reveals that children as young as 11 years of age are being forced into prostitution and trafficked as child brides.
It said children are also sexually abused in their own communities, raped and abused by persons in authority including police.
The report stated that young girls and even toddlers are also frequently becoming victims of gang rape, sometimes as part of tribal fighting and payback.

“Child sexual abuse is believed to be pervasive throughout Papua New Guinea. However the lack of effective data mechanisms in most parts of the country inhibits proper evaluation of the problem. Worryingly, this abuse generally takes place in homes, schools, urban neighbourhoods and rural villages; places where children are typically expected to be safe and secure, and is perpetrated by people in a relationship of trust with victims, such as fathers, adopted fathers, relatives, teachers, police and church leaders,” says the report.

The report also highlights that children are commonly exploited sexually through child prostitution, commercial trafficking and pornography. “Many children become involved in prostitution as a means of escaping poverty and/or as a result of previous sexual abuse. Increasing demand for younger sex workers also contributes to the increasing prevalence of child prostitution. A 2004 report noted that men were seeking out younger sex workers as they were believed to be “more sexually appealing, more dynamic and explorative in their sexual approaches and easily manipulated,” the report stated.

The report notes that another common form of exploitation is the sale and trafficking of young girls as child brides and domestic servants within PNG and across the Indonesian border. The girls are also sometimes sold to foreigners working at work camps and offered as repayment for debts.

The report further notes that there are also worrying indicators that children are being increasingly used in pornography.
The report said that child pornography is widely available and while most of this is imported, anecdotal evidence suggests that some is locally made.

The report adds “Early marriage is a form of commercial exploitation of girls and is a major factor in the denial of other core human rights. Despite the Supreme Court ruling that customary early marriage of young girls is inconsistent with the Constitution of PNG in the late 1990s, girls as young as 12 are still married under customary law today.”

A 2000 study found that 3,870 children aged 1- 14 living in rural areas and 633 in urban areas have been married. Close to 25 per cent of these children had been separated, divorced or widowed by the age of 18.

Girls who marry before they turn 18 often experience socioeconomic outcomes as adults, are usually poorly educated, have more children, are more likely to be in polygamous relationships with older men and are more likely to experience domestic and sexual violence.

Lack of knowledge and acceptance of human rights is reflected in the prevalence of physical and emotional abuse, while this also leads to other harmful practises such as the abuse of traditional adoption practises.

Economic factors also increase the vulnerability of women and children as many men were increasingly disposing cash for alcohol, drugs and sex. This result in some families sexually exploit their children to relieve their poverty.