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In October 2015, a husband and wife were found guilty of killing their unborn child and were each sentenced to four years in prison, the first convictions under PNG’s 1975 abortion law.
The woman had experienced difficulties in previous pregnancies and an obstructed labor during the second, leaving her afraid and traumatized.
In a statement, O’Neill blamed “agitators” for the violence and announced an inquiry “to determine the underlying reasons for continued student unrest promoted by individuals outside the student body.’’ O’Neill maintains that the protests were funded by the political opposition.
Australia transfers asylum seekers that arrive in Australian waters by boat to PNG’s Manus Island for refugee status determination and settlement.
Despite Papua New Guinea’s (PNG) economic boom led by extractive industries, almost 40 percent of the country’s population lives in poverty.
The government has not taken sufficient steps to address gender inequality, violence, corruption, or excessive use of force by police.
Since 2014, the National Fraud and Anti-Corruption Directorate (Anti-Corruption Directorate), led by Matthew Damaru, has had a warrant for the arrest of the prime minister on corruption charges, but a court ordered a stay of execution and the warrant still had not been executed at time of writing.
O’Neill asked that Australia find alternative arrangements for its detainees and for recognized refugees who do not wish to stay in PNG.
More than 900 asylum seekers and refugees remain on Manus Island.
Approximately 872 of these are held in a center on a naval base, of whom about 675 are recognized refugees.
In August, reports emerged of villagers attacking a number of women suspected of involvement in sorcery in PNG's Enga province, including one woman who had her hand chopped off.
PNG has one of the highest rates of maternal death in the world, second only to Afghanistan in the Asia Pacific region.
Following a number of high profile arrests in April by the Anti-Corruption Directorate—including a Supreme Court judge, the attorney-general, and the prime minister's lawyer—Police Commissioner Gari Baki suspended Damaru and ordered the closure of the directorate.