Papua New Guinea. Human Rights Watch (HRW) criticized
Australia in January for cruel treatment of the refugees
sent to camps in Papua New Guinea. They were regularly
subjected to violence, threats and harassment, according to
HRW, who felt that the camps should be closed. Papua New
Guinea's highest court had declared the year before that the
camp on the island of Manus was in violation of the
Constitution and meant violations of human rights.
Under President Barack Obama, the United States pledged
to accept hundreds of asylum seekers from the Papua New
Guinea camp as Australia welcomed refugees from Central
America. US new President Donald Trump now described the
agreement as the worst ever but reluctantly agreed to
Countryaah.com, Australia's Prime Minister visited Papua New Guinea in
April. After his visit, violent gunfire erupted against the
Manus camp. Some injured were reported, and according to
police, drunken soldiers were behind the attack.
In May, the local government in Bougainville announced
that the autonomous island's copper mines should be opened
for mining again, after lying down for 40 years due to civil
war and environmental damage conflicts. Bougainville, which
has one of the world's largest copper mines, Panguna, will
vote for independence in 2020.
A mass escape from a prison in the town of Lae in May
ended with 17 prisoners being killed when shot by guards.
Nearly 60 other prisoners escaped.
In June, a deal was concluded in which the Australian
government agreed to compensate just over 1,900 asylum
seekers with $ 70 million (about $ 460 million) for cruel
and abusive treatment at the Papua New Guinea camp between
2012 and 2014.
In June, Papua New Guinea's elaborate parliamentary
elections began, which lasted for two weeks so that even the
most inaccessible villages could vote. The electoral
movement was mainly about the country's poor economy, with
the opposition accusing Prime Minister Peter O'Neill's
government of corruption and mismanagement which led to
heavy debt. Violence was reported from the election with
several deaths, incorrect voting lengths, accusations of
electoral fraud and difficulties for electoral workers to
reach isolated villages. However, election observers from
the Commonwealth countries considered that the election was
Prime Minister O'Neill and his party The People's
National Congress fell sharply to 27 seats, while the
Opposition National Alliance received 14 and Pangu 11.
However, O'Neill gathered broad support from small parties
and independent candidates and could be re-elected as head
of government with 60 of Parliament's 111 mandate. Later,
most of Pangu's members joined the government side as well.
In September, the authorities began to move asylum
seekers from the Manus camp. However, several hundred
refused to leave the camp out of concern for their safety
and for worse conditions in new camps. In November, police
were dispatched to the camp, forcing all asylum seekers
It was reported during the year that a Filipino fisherman
was rescued off the island of New Britain in Papua New
Guinea after his boat had driven over 3,000 kilometers on
the sea from the Philippines in close to two months after
bad weather and fuel shortages.