PORT MORESBY 25 February 2022: Members of the Special Parliamentary Committee on Gender-Based Violence (GBV) met today in the margins of the current parliamentary session to prepare for the second round public hearings which will be held by the Committee on Thursday 3 March and Friday 4 March 2022.
Hon Charles Abel, Chairman of the Committee, made clear that the Committee will use the hearing to encourage Government Ministers and officials to stay focused on addressing GBV, even in the lead up to the June 2022 national general election.
On Thursday 24 February, when speaking in the House on a Bill that sought to criminalise sorcery accusation related violence (SARV), Chairman Abel used his speech as an opportunity to highlight the work of the Committee to address a range of critical issues, including and in addition to SARV.
In his speech to Parliament, he stated: “Our Committee produced a report last year, which listed 71 recommendations. In our report, which has been endorsed by the Government, we highlighted 7 urgent reforms – including the establishment of a permanent GBV committee, to convert the current special committed into a permanent one. I have given the Leader of Government Business a draft motion to make that recommendation happen and trust the Leader to action that.”
Hon Abel noted that other recommendations included the establishment of the National GBV Secretariat, counselling services, addressing SARV, providing more support for family planning and ensuring access to justice for GBV survivors. The importance of reserved seats for women was also highlighted as an urgent priority recommendation, but Hon Abel noted that the Government appears to be running late in tabling legislation to push through those reforms.
The second round of public hearings by the GBV Committee will be held in Port Moresby from Thursday 3 March to Friday 4 March. They will be used to ask Ministries about how they have implemented the recommendations made by the Committee in their August 2021 Report. To enable the public to watch and participate, the public hearings will be broadcast on the Committee’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/PNGParlCommGBV.
"We want to know what they have done since our last hearings to fix the many gaps we identified in our August GBV report in the national response to GBV.” - Governor Powes Parkop, Committee member
At a meeting of Committee members discussing the next hearings, Governor Powes Parkop a member of the Committee stated: “At our hearings next week, we expect to be hearing from government officials working across the spectrum, from health officials who provide crisis support services, to the police, prosecution and courts services who are responsible for investigating and prosecuting GBV crimes. We want to know what they have done since our last hearings to fix the many gaps we identified in our August GBV repot in the national response to GBV.”
He stressed: “I am particularly concerned that the Government needs to urgently approve the establishment of the National GBV Secretariat, which has been tasked with driving the national GBV response. Although the Government allocated 7.93 million Kina to the Department for Community Development and Religion in the 2022 National Budget, it wont be spent if there isn’t a National GBV Secretariat, with a properly qualified cohort of staff who can effectively manage that funding for the benefit of GBV survivors across the country. This must be done immediately.”
The Special Parliamentary Committee on GBV was set up in 2020 by the National Parliament. It has six members, in addition to the Chair: Deputy Chairman Hon Allan Bird (Governor East Sepik), Hon Powes Parkop (Governor NCD), Hon Aiye Tambua (Goroka MP), Hon Michael Dua (Governor Chimbu), Hon Allan Marat (Rabaul MP) and Hon Ginson Saonu (Governor Morobe).
For more information on the Committee, see Coalition of Parliamentarians to End GBV: https://www.unitedforequalitypng.com/.
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is providing technical support to the Special Parliamentary Committee on GBV as part of its gender programming and the EU-UN Spotlight Initiative. This support aims to address Gender-Based Violence and support longer-term efforts to promote women’s participation and leadership in the Parliament.
Hon Charles Abel, Chairman
Special Parliamentary Committee on Gender-based Violence
25 February 2022
Mr Werner Cohill, Committee Secretary
C/-National Parliament, WAIGANI, NCD 131