The findings of the Papua New Guinea-Australia Development Cooperation Treaty Review is an opportunity for Australia to “demonstrate leadership on human rights” in Asia and the Pacific, especially in Papua New Guinea, writes Philip Lynch, executive director of the Australia-based Human Rights Law Resource Center.
In his blog for the Sydney Morning Herald, Lynch takes into account the observations of Manfred Nowak, the United Nations special rapporteur on torture. The international law expert voiced his concern over the alarming cases of human rights violation and high levels of corruption in PNG, specifically in the detention centers that he visited.
According to Lynch, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International share his view on PNG’s human rights record.
Nowak also recommends that the international donor community considers human rights protection as “the highest priority” in engaging with Papua New Guinea.
According to Lynch, Nowak’s recommendations are particularly relevant to Australia for several reasons. First, on May 24, Foreign Minister Stephen Smith announced that the government would review the PNG-Australia Development Cooperation Treaty over the coming months. Second, a report of the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defense and Trade recommended that AusAID take a human rights-based approach when planning and implementing development projects. Third, focusing on PNG’s human rights would advance the government’s commitment to promote human rights within the region and across the globe.