Modern Law in Papua New Guinea

After 1884 the Germans and the British introduced modified versions of their own law. When the Australians took over German New Guinea in 1914, the military occupation used a combination of the existing German law and Australian military and civilian law. When the Australian Mandated Territory Administration took over from the military in 1921, German and military law was replaced by a modified system of Australian law. In Australian Papua law was mainly based on Australian law which was derived from British law. All three colonial administrations adopted criminal codes which provided for capital punishment. Under Australian administration, death sentences were often imposed, but usually (almost invariably in Papua) remitted. In the aftermath of World War II, the Australian military administration set up courts which tried Melanesians for collaboration with the Japanese. A number were hanged in public. When the Labor Party Government in Australia learned of this it intervened to prevent further executions. The death penalty was not applied in the postwar Territory of Papua New Guinea.

In 1975 the Constitution provided for an independent judiciary and laws based on Australian models, but with some laws based on traditional or customary law. The Supreme Court, the highest judicial authority, deals with appeals from the National Court and the interpretation of the Constitution. The National Court deals with the most serious civil and criminal cases. District courts deal with civil cases involving compensation, some indictable offenses and serious summary offenses. Local Courts deal with minor offenses and aspects of customary law allowed under the Constitution. There is a special Land Court to deal with land disputes. Offenses committed by anyone under the age of 16 are dealt with by a Children’s Court. The Supreme Court has a Chief Justice, a Deputy Chief Justice and judges drawn, as required, from the National Court. The Chief Justice is appointed, and can be dismissed, by the Head of State on the recommendation of the National Executive Council. Judges and magistrates for Local Courts are appointed by a politically independent Judicial and Legal Services Commission.

See also: Customary Law in Papua New Guinea

Leadership Code in Papua New Guinea

Under the national Constitution, the Leadership Code requires that leaders in the country should not use their positions for personal gain and should avoid conflict between their personal interests and their public duties. They are expected to act with honesty and integrity at all times. Leaders covered by the code include parliamentarians, secretaries of departments, directors of statutory authorities, senior members of the defense force and police, senior diplomats, and the executive officers of political parties. Between the introduction of the Code in 1975 and 1990, a number of breaches of the Code were detected and the cases brought before the Ombudsman Commission. Those whom the Ombudsman found guilty were referred to a Leadership Tribunal. If found guilty by the Tribunal they were dismissed from office. However, breaches of the Leadership Code are often difficult to prove.

PNG parliamentarians were early conscious of the likelihood of corruption amongst leaders. In 1971 the House of Assembly passed the Parliamentary Integrity Bill, which was better known as the anti-corruption bill, to establish a committee to investigate complaints of improper practices by MHAs. The concern of parliamentarians over these matters abated as they developed business interests. In 1978 Prime Minister Somare’s attempt to legislate a more stringent code to prevent national leaders from having private business interests was opposed by both the opposition and his coalition partner (People’s Progress Party) and easily defeated.

League for National Advancement

The League for National Advancement (LNA) was formed in May 1986 by a breakaway of four leading members of the PANGU Pati Tony Siaguru, Barry Holloway, John Nilkare and Karl Stack. All except Stack lost the 1987 elections. Stack was defeated but Nilkare reelected in 1992. In 1992 the LNA, led by John Nilkare, joined Prime Minister Wingti’s Coalition Government. In October 1993 the League, led by Nilkare, had seven parliamentary members.

Libraries, Museums and Art Gallery in Papua New Guinea

Until the 1960s libraries catered almost entirely to the expatriate community. In 1926 a privately funded Library Institute was opened in Port Moresby. The first public libraries were set up in Port Moresby and Rabaul in 1936; both were destroyed during World War II. In 1947 the Education Department organized public library services for major towns. Responsibility for the fledgling service changed several times until it was taken over by the Department of Information in 1962. Between 1947 and 1961 a limited English-language Village Library Service based on schools, missions and local councils catered to the few literate PNGans. In the early 1960s the inadequacy of the provision of library servicies for PNGans was criticized by international agencies. From 1962 the library of the Administrative College provided a service for public servants. In 1967 a library (now the Michael Somare library) was established at UPNG. The university library also houses an important collection of manuscripts, photographs and specialist books in a New Guinea Collection. In 1975 Cabinet approved the establishment of a national library service and John (later Sir John) Yocklunn was appointed Acting National Librarian. A building to accommodate the National Library was provided by Australia and the library was officially opened in October 1978. In 1993 the National Library also operated three public libraries in the National Capital District and gave guidance to provincial libraries.

The National Museum in Port Moresby collects artifacts and arranges displays illustrating PNG’s cultural and natural history. It also undertakes some research in these fields. The National Art Gallery, which is attached to the Museum, exhibits local paintings and crafts. At Goroka, in the Eastern Highlands Province, the J.K. McCarthy Museum shows artifacts from a variety of highland cultures and photographs taken at European contact in the 1930s.

London Missionary Society in Papua New Guinea

The London Missionary Society (LMS) was established in 1795, and began work in Polynesia in the following year. It was supported by evangelical Protestant churches, especially the Congregationalists. It began work in the islands of Torres Strait and along the southeast coast of New Guinea in the 1870s. It established permanent headquarters at a site which is now part of the city of Port Moresby in 1874. By 1884 there were almost 2,000 students at the Port Moresby mission and 1,000 students at 20 other stations along the south coast and in adjacent islands. The British missionaries brought in Polynesian assistants and trained local preachers and teachers. Encouraged and partly funded by the colonial Administration, the LMS established schools which taught basic literacy and numeracy as well as religious instruction. LMS missionaries translated scriptures into several local languages. Work was seriously disrupted during World War II when many missionaries were killed and mission stations destroyed. In 1961 the LMS handed over its activities, staff and property to its Melanesian congregations, which adopted the name Papua Ekalesia. In 1968 Papua Ekalesia was joined by the Methodist church to form the United Church in Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands.

“Lost Tribes”

From time to time patrols report the finding of “lost tribes” e.g., 80 Liawep in Southern Highlands Province and 200 Toulambi in Eastern Highlands Province in June and October 1993 and claim that these people have had no previous contact with outsiders. However, although there are still people who have had very limited contact with outsiders and have been missed by census teams, it is unlikely that any groups remain which have no knowlege of the outside world.

Lutheran Missions and Churches in Papua New Guinea

The first Lutheran mission was established by the Neuendettelsau Mission Society, at Finschhafen, on the east coast of the German Protectorate of New Guinea, in 1886. In 1887 the Rhenish Missionary Society began work in the Madang area. The German missionaries established schools in which the teaching was in the vernacular, in German, or both. Most missionaries were allowed to remain when Australia took over the German colony after World War I. In the early 1930s Lutheran missionaries were among the first Europeans to move into the highlands. In 1934 a Lutheran mission bought a plane and pioneered mission aviation. The Lutheran Shipping Company is the major carrier of cargo and passengers along the north and northeast coasts. In 1948 the Missouri Synod of the American Lutheran church established a mission in Enga Province. When its missionary activity expanded this became the Wabag Lutheran church, which in 1963 formed the basis of the Gutnius Lutheran church.

In 1956 the other Lutheran groups joined to form a local church known as the Evangelical Lutheran Church of New Guinea (ELCPNG). In 1976 the ELCPNG became fully autonomous and was joined by the Siassi Lutheran Church which had grown out of Australian Lutheran missionary activity. In 1990 the 832,933 members of the Evangelical Lutheran church were 23.9 percent of the Christian population (the second largest denomination) and 23.1 percent of the total population. In 1991 Rose Muingnepe, an Evangelical Lutheran, became the first woman to chair the Papua New Guinea Council of Churches (PNGCC). She was reelected to this position in 1993. The 1980 census recorded Gutnius Lutherans as 2.1 percent of the Christian population. They did not appear as a separate group in the 1990 census but have separate representation on the PNGCC.

Madang Province

Madang Province (MP) covers 29,000 square kilometers on the central north coast and adjacent islands. It includes high mountain ranges, many lakes, a narrow coastal plain, swamps and the Ramu River. Like other regions bordering the Bismarck Sea the area is subject to much tectonic activity. Three of the islands have active volcanoes. Madang province has the fourth largest provincial population according to the 2011 Census (493,906—7 percent of PNG’s population), after Morobe, Eastern Highlands and Southern Highlands.Some 180 languages are spoken. The Constitution, which was adopted in 1978, provides for an elected House of Assembly of 23 members and 3 members appointed by the national government. There are five districts and provincial headquarters are at the coastal town of Madang.

Continue reading “Madang Province”

Malaria in Papua New Guinea

Malaria was the most serious endemic disease at the time of European contact. Many local coastal people developed some degree of immunity but European planters and miners, officials and missionaries all suffered from the disease. Non-European laborers and missionary assistants from outside PNG were also seriously affected. In 1900 the German bacteriologist, Robert Koch, studied the effects of quinine on the disease. During World War I quinine was used systematically to treat Australian troops. Between the wars attempts were made to control the disease in the towns by treating the breeding grounds of the malaria-carrying anopheles mosquito. During World War II the Allied troops were successfully treated with mepacrine (atebrin) and experiments were conducted with chloroquine, sulphonamides and proguanil. Between 1942 and 1945 thousands of Japanese soldiers died from malaria.

In spite of stringent administration attempts to control its spread, increased contact between the coast and the highlands in the 1960s resulted in the disease becoming endemic in much of the highlands by the 1970s. The campaign to control malaria included DDT spraying of breeding areas and the distribution of drugs. In 1970 World Health Organization representatives visited PNG to advise on anti-malarial procedures. Attempts made between 1970 and 1990 to eradicate the disease were unsuccessful. Drug-resistant strains of malaria to which the people have no natural immunity appeared in the 1980s. In 1990 malaria was the third most common cause of illness and death and the incidence appeared to be increasing.