Papua New Guinea

Office To Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons

PAPUA NEW GUINEA: Tier 2 Watch List

Papua New Guinea is a source and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor. Foreign and local women and children are subjected to sex trafficking, domestic servitude, forced begging, and street vending, and foreign and local men are subjected to forced labor in logging and mining camps. An estimated 19 percent of the country’s labor market is comprised of child workers—some of whom are subjected to forced labor or child prostitution. “Mosko Girls”—young girls employed in bars to provide companionship to patrons and sell an alcoholic drink called mosko—are vulnerable to human trafficking, especially around major cities. NGO sources indicate children in prostitution increased by 30 percent in 2013. Boys as young as 12 years old are exploited as “market taxis” in urban areas and required to carry extremely heavy loads for low pay; some may be victims of forced labor. Parents force children to beg or sell goods on the street as sources of income. Children, including girls from tribal areas as young as 5 years old, are reportedly subjected to commercial sexual exploitation or forced labor by members of their immediate family or tribe. Tribal leaders reportedly trade with each other the exploitative labor and service of girls and women for guns and to forge political alliances. Traditional customs permit parents to sell or give away their daughters for forced marriages—often to wealthy men and politicians—to settle debts or as peace offerings, leaving the girls vulnerable to domestic servitude. Young girls sold into polygamous marriages may be forced into domestic service for their husbands’ extended families. In urban areas, parents reportedly prostitute their children directly or in brothels as a means to support their families or to pay for school fees. High-ranking public officials allegedly condone, are engaged in, or benefit from sex trafficking.

Malaysian and Chinese logging companies and foreign businesspeople arrange for some foreign women to voluntarily enter the country with fraudulently issued tourist or business visas. Subsequent to their arrival, many of these women—from countries including Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, China, and the Philippines—are turned over to traffickers who transport them to logging and mining camps, fisheries, and entertainment sites, and exploit them in forced prostitution and domestic servitude. Chinese, Malaysian, and local men are subjected to forced labor at commercial mines and logging camps, where some receive little pay and are compelled to continue working for the company indefinitely through debt bondage schemes. Employers exacerbate workers’ indebtedness by paying extremely low wages, which requires employees to purchase food and other necessities from the employers at usurious interest rates.

The Government of Papua New Guinea does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. During the reporting period, the government gazetted the Criminal Code Amendment of 2013, which contains anti-trafficking provisions, and established a new anti-trafficking training program for front-line officers and judiciaries. The police initiated an investigation involving a Papua New Guinean who allegedly exploited a Fijian national. The government also created an anti-trafficking committee and drafted a national action plan to combat trafficking. The government, however, continued to lack a formal victim identification procedure or referral mechanism. Despite reports of trafficking-related corruption at the highest levels of government, it also did not investigate police officers and other government officials allegedly involved in human trafficking. Government officials reportedly continued to facilitate trafficking by accepting bribes to allow illegal migrants to enter the country or ignore trafficking situations and may have traded female trafficking victims in return for political favors or votes.


Train law enforcement officers, prosecutors, and judges on the crime of human trafficking and the trafficking provisions under the criminal code; investigate and prosecute trafficking offenses and punish traffickers, including parents and officials who facilitate or directly benefit from trafficking; approve the national plan of action that outlines Papua New Guinea’s commitment to combat trafficking; develop and institute a formal procedure to identify victims among vulnerable groups, such as women and children in prostitution and foreign women and men arriving for work in Papua New Guinea; train law enforcement officers to proactively identify victims and refer them to protective services; develop and implement procedures to ensure victims of trafficking are not arrested, deported, or otherwise punished for acts committed as a direct result of being subjected to trafficking; allocate sufficient resources to the National Human Trafficking Committee for anti-trafficking awareness campaigns and trainings; work with NGOs and international organizations to increase protective services for victims of trafficking; increase collaboration with civil society, private sector, religious, and tribal leaders to raise awareness of and reduce demand for forced labor and commercial sex acts, especially of children; and accede to the 2000 UN TIP Protocol.


The government maintained its anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts. It certified and gazetted the Criminal Code Amendment of 2013, which prohibits all forms of trafficking, which brought the law into force. The new law prescribes penalties for adult sex and labor trafficking of up to 20 years’ imprisonment; it prescribes penalties for child sex and labor trafficking of up to 25 years’ imprisonment. These penalties are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with penalties prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape.

The government initiated one new investigation involving a Fijian national who was subjected to forced labor by a Papua New Guinean; two labor trafficking investigations initiated in 2013 did not result in prosecutions. The prosecution of alleged labor trafficking offenses involving a Papua New Guinean national who was charged with “deprivation of liberty” for confining her maid, initiated in 2013, remained pending in court. Government officials often did not prosecute trafficking-related crimes in criminal courts; rather, trafficking-related cases were often referred to village courts, which administered customary law. Cases adjudicated in these courts resulted in restitution paid by the trafficker to the victim, but village courts did not order imprisonment of offenders. Some victims of internal trafficking or their parents, who received compensation from the trafficker, were reluctant to notify police or bring criminal charges against traffickers.

The Department of Justice and Attorney General (DJAG), with foreign funding, established a new anti-trafficking training program for front-line officers, magistrates, and civil society members comprised of three-day workshops held in several border provinces and major cities. The government continued to underfund law enforcement agencies, and most government offices remained weak as a result of corruption, cronyism, a lack of accountability, and a promotion system based on patronage. The government did not report any investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of government officials complicit in human trafficking offenses, despite allegations that government ministers, police, and other officials were complicit in commercial sexual exploitation of children.


The government did not make any efforts to proactively identify trafficking victims. The government did not identify any victims, compared with seven identified in 2013. The government continued to lack a formal victim identification procedure and standardized referral mechanism. It did not operate any victim care facilities for trafficking victims or refer any victims to a shelter, compared with six referred in 2013. A potential Fijian trafficking victim, who was allegedly lured to Papua New Guinea under false pretenses and subjected to harsh conditions by a Papua New Guinean man, received assistance from the Fijian high commissioner; the PNG government did not provide assistance to the potential victim. None of the shelters run by NGOs or international organizations received financial or in-kind assistance from the government. There were no reports of victims being detained, fined, or jailed for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being subjected to trafficking; however, some may have been as a result of inadequate government efforts to identify victims. The law provides legal alternatives to the removal of foreign victims of trafficking to countries where they may face hardship or retribution, but no victim was afforded this protection in 2014. The government allowed “ongoing stay” for trafficking victims but lacked provisions for victims to seek compensation through civil suits.


The government took measurable steps to prevent human trafficking. The government created a National Human Trafficking Committee (NHTC), comprised of 14 government agencies, five civil society organizations, and five international stakeholders. NHTC, chaired by DJAG, met twice in 2014 to draft a national plan of action. The national plan of action was pending approval at the end of the reporting period. The government did not conduct any awareness or educational campaigns and did not take any measures to reduce child sex tourism. The government took no discernible actions to decrease the demand for forced labor or commercial sex acts. The government did not provide anti-trafficking training or guidance for its diplomatic personnel. Papua New Guinea is not a party to the 2000 UN TIP Protocol.