Papua New Guinea 2014
Papua New Guinea. At the beginning of the year, protests erupted in the asylum seeker detention camps set up by Australia on the Papuan island of Manus. Demonstrations rioted, many detainees broke out of the camp, a man was killed and at least 77 were injured since gunfire erupted. According to Countryaah.com, Papua New Guinea population in 2020 is estimated at 8,947,035. The boat refugees, who are prevented from entering Australia, experienced the conditions in the camp as unbearable. Amnesty International and the UN Refugee Commission have also criticized the camp.
An official investigation pointed to frustration over long waiting times for asylum. Later, two men, one of them camp guards, were arrested on suspicion of the murder of an Iranian asylum seeker.
During the year, the toughest corruption conviction to date fell against a politician in Papua New Guinea. A former minister was sentenced to nine years in prison for extensive misappropriation of state funds.
In April, ExxonMobil started the liquefied gas production project, LNG, which cost the equivalent of about SEK 135 billion in investments, the most expensive project in Papua New Guinea’s history. The first gas delivery went to Japan. Expectations were that gas production in Papua New Guinea would double and profits quadrupled in two years. The country hopes that the LNG project will double GDP, which in 2015 is expected to increase by one fifth.
According to critics, the severe corruption in the country – ranked 144th out of 177 on Transparency International’s list – risks preventing incomes from going to schools, healthcare and local development. A 2% royalty from gas extraction is allocated in a development fund to the landowned clans concerned. However, complicated litigation is ongoing about which competing clans are entitled to the fund’s money.
The world’s first mining robot at great depths of sea was ready during the year to be used to collect copper and gold from the seabed in Papua New Guinea. It had been manufactured in the UK. The new type of quarry was expected to be very profitable as metals at the bottom of the sea can have 15 times as high quality as land deposits. The robot will operate at approximately 1,500 meters depth.
In June, the EU warned Papua New Guinea that illegal catching of tuna in its waters could lead to the country not being allowed to sell its catches to the EU. Half of the Western Pacific caught tuna is exported to the EU.
In June, Prime Minister Peter O’Neill dissolved the country’s anti-corruption agency Taskforce Sweep, after issuing an arrest warrant against O’Neill himself with charges of corruption. O’Neill claimed that the Anti-Corruption Bureau has become politicized. The Prosecutor General was dismissed, as was the Deputy Chief of Police, after he had arrested the country’s new police chief following allegations of fraud. O’Neill filed an investigation into the allegations against him himself, claiming that police, courts and ministries had been politicized.
In August, a Chinese-owned nickel mine was attacked by armed villagers who burned equipment and stopped work temporarily. Several workers were injured. The mining project has cost the equivalent of SEK 15 billion and is estimated to produce 22,000 tonnes of nickel during the year. The Chinese Embassy demanded that the government prevent violence and investigate the guilty. Reportedly, the violence was triggered by dissatisfaction with the Chinese company’s employment rules.