Bishop Arnold Orowae, President of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Papua New Guinea & the Solomon Islands, has called on politicians to respect the law and to give priority to the common good. His call comes among growing concerns in Papua New Guinea about democracy, the rule of law, and the accountability of leaders: “No person, including members of parliament, is above the law. There is the one law for everyone in Papua New Guinea. Yet recent events, with accusations, dismissals and political manouverings appear to disrespect the Constitution and the rule of law,” he said. Read the statement here.
The Catholic Bishops Conference of Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands expressed their condolences to the family of the asylum seeker killed on Manus Island and reiterated their opposition to Australia’s offshore processing of asylum seekers in Papua New Guinea: “Detaining people against their will in PNG, even if it “works” as a deterrent is not a just solution worthy of a great nation otherwise proud of its human rights record. It clearly places an intolerable strain on the capacity of PNG to manage, and might lead to even more deaths, injury and trauma. Close the centre and manage the problem in Australia.” Read their statement here.
The Papua New Guinea Bishops have expressed concern about the nationalisation of the Ok Tedi mine and the possible wind up of the Sustainable Development Program associated with it. They say: “The Sustainable Development Program has supported hundreds of projects nationwide, partnering with organizations and communities to bring assistance where it is most needed, particularly in disadvantaged remote rural areas largely overlooked by government. It has done this with integrity, avoiding the stain of incompetence and corruption. Local organizations and communities know that if they are honest, willing to work hard and do their part in a spirit of self-reliance, they are likely to attract the attention of PNGSDP and receive assistance. Now it seems this will end.” Read More …
A statement from the Commission for Social Concerns of the Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands Catholic Bishops Conference says “… that while Papua New Guineans are not lacking in compassion for those in need, this country (unlike Australia which is a stable and thriving nation of immigrants) does not have the capacity at this time in its history to welcome a sizeable influx of refugees and provide for their immediate needs and a reasonable hope for a new and prosperous beginning. The leaders of Papua New Guinea and Australia surely know this and therefore appear to be making a very unwise decision. Papua New Guinea is rightly proud of the protection guaranteed by its Constitution to all people, citizen and non-citizen alike. We refer particularly to the section on freedom and liberty of the person (section 42) in the PNG Constitution. So is it right to bring people across our borders against their wishes? Is it right to imprison people who have not broken our laws? The implication that resettlement in PNG would be a deterrent is offensive to Papua New Guinea.”
“The new resettlement arrangements with Papua New Guinea are based on the premise that it is wrong for people fleeing from persecution to seek asylum in Australia” said Bishop Hanna “this is fundamentally untrue.” Read the statement from the Australian Catholic Migrant and Refugee Office here.