AUSTRALIA’S SUPPORT TO LAW AND JUSTICE IN PAPUA NEW GUINEA
AS AT 20 AUGUST 2014
- Law and justice is a priority area of the Australian Government support to PNG under the Partnership for Development.
- As announced by the Prime Ministers of Papua New Guinea and Australia in July 2013, fifty additional Australian Federal Police (AFP) officers have now been deployed to PNG. This brings to 73 the number of AFP officers deployed (see separate ‘Information Sheet’ on the AFP Deployment to PNG).
- The Department of Justice and Attorney General, Office of the Solicitor General, Office of State Solicitor and the Office of Public Prosecutor are supported by 11 legal and prosecution advisors. These are Australian Attorney-General’s Department officials helping build the specialist legal skills of PNG lawyers and prosecutors through the Strongim Gavman Program.
- The PNG-Australia Law and Justice Partnership (PALJP) was a $150 million program that operated from 2009 to June 2014. PALJP worked with PNG’s law and justice agencies: the police, prosecutions, national, district and village courts, legal aid, corrections and ombudsman and the Department of Justice and Attorney General.
- Australia has now started the PALJP – Transition Program that builds-on the successes already achieved in anticipation of a new program commencing in 2016.
- Australia invested K61 million through PALJP in law and justice infrastructure to increase access to provincial law and justice services, including:
- The construction or extension of 11 national and district court houses;
- The construction of separate and secure facilities for female prisoners in Eastern Highlands and Oro provinces; and
- The construction of housing across the country to support the permanent placement of judges, magistrates, prosecutors and legal aid solicitors - the public solicitor now provides legal advice for those who cannot pay, in 19 provinces, up from 10 provinces in 2009.
- Through the combined Australian efforts, PNG law and justice agencies have received support to introduce modern and efficient practices saving the courts and prosecutors time and resources. The quicker resolution of cases means accused persons spend less time waiting for the cases to be dealt with.
- In the Office of Public Prosecutions for example, the introduction of specialist prosecution teams, electronic case management and proactive case preparation practices helped reduce the backlog of cases in Lae and Madang.
- Australia’s support helps increase the access to justice in Bougainville.
- Magistrates now hear cases in five locations on a regular basis, including a new permanent court house in Buin. Police stations, training centres and police housing have been built, police have been trained and a specialist Family and Sexual Violence Unit has been opened in Buka. The first Bougainvillean police qualified to become detectives graduated in 2013.
- In December 2013, the first cohort of 17 senior police, including 2 women, graduated from the Senior Leadership Development Program. Eight were subsequently promoted in early 2014.
- This added to the 32 newly commissioned police officers and 2 correctional services officers that graduated from two years of officer training earlier in 2013 – the first such graduation in 10 years. The AFP supported both of these courses and is working with RPNGC to up-skill trainers, modernise curriculum and improve training centre infrastructure.
- Training has also been provided to other law and justice agencies officers:
- Magistrates and judges to become accredited mediators;
- Lawyers and law graduates have benefited from continuing legal education sometimes delivered on a pro bono basis by Australian judges and Australian-based law firms;
- In 2013 a number of officers participated in exchanges with Australian agencies, such as the Commonwealth Ombudsman and the Queensland Correctional Services Academy; and
- 21 officials from 6 PNG law and justice agencies graduated with Diplomas of Government (Management) in December 2013.
- Australia’s support to the Legal Training Institute has seen an increase in number of law students from 89 in 2009 to 130 in 2014.
- Australia is working with the PNG police, prosecutors and magistrates to improve legal protections, and support available to survivors of family and sexual violence.
- Australia has supported the establishment of 14 Family and Sexual Violence Units in police stations across PNG. These Units provide support to people to report cases, receiving referrals for counselling or other support such as the issuing of interim protection orders or finding emergency accommodation. Over the past three years well over 28,000 survivors have received help from police in these Units.
- Magistrates and district court clerks have received specialist training to improve the issuance of Interim Protection Orders - a short-term intervention to prevent further violence in the home or community.
- A dedicated team of PNG prosecutors receive mentoring and specialist skills training in prosecuting these types of cases and the Office of Public Prosecutor has been encouraged to improve the support available to victims and witnesses, particularly in these types of cases.
- Support is being provided to raise awareness and ensure the implementation of the Family Protection Act which treats domestic violence as a separate criminal offence.
- Advisory support is provided to the provincial administrations of Hela, Southern Highlands, Gulf, Western, Oro and Morobe as well as in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville. The focus of this support is on increasing the skills of village court officials, the appointment of land mediators and coordination and planning by administration officials to identify and address local law and justice priorities. These local dispute resolution and justice mechanisms can help build safer and more secure communities.
- Australia is helping build PNG Government’s ability to investigate and prosecute corruption through mutual legal cooperation requests, law reform, improving the integrity of civil litigation, and developing specialist prosecution and investigation skills in financial tracking and restraining proceeds of crime.
- This includes advisory support to Proceeds of Crime and Serious Corruption and Dishonesty Units in Office of Public Prosecutor, the National Fraud and Anti-corruption Directorate and the Financial Intelligence Unit.
- Improving law and order is a complex challenge for PNG to meet. It not only requires significant resources but is dependent on all of the agencies working efficiently - independently and together. Australia is a committed partner working with PNG to address these challenges.
Australian High Commission
20 August 2014