EU Commits Support for Human Rights Commission Establishment in PNG

By: Roselyn Erehe May 20, 2024

(left to right) European Union Ambassador Jacques Fradin, Head of Delegation to PNG addressing the attendees at the Inception Workshop for Establishment of the Human Rights Institution in PNG, sitted next to him is Commissioner Mr. Stephan Pokanis, Commissioner of PNG Correctional Service.

Recognizing the paramount importance of human rights, both for Papua New Guineans and those engaging in business, investment, and other activities within the country, the PNG Government, through the Department of Justice & Attorney General (DJAG), is spearheading efforts to establish a National Human Rights Institution (NHRI).

With financial backing from the European Union (EU) and in collaboration with DJAG's Human Rights Secretariat, a team of experts is actively supporting the setup of the NHRI.

At an Inception Workshop for advancing the establishment of the NHRI, European Union Ambassador Jacques Fradin, Head of Delegation to PNG, expressed profound enthusiasm to EU’s support towards the establishment of a Human Rights Institution.

He highlighted the extensive groundwork laid over the past two decades, emphasizing the collaborative efforts with key government departments.

H.E. Fradin conveyed the EU's honor in receiving the request for assistance from the Department of Justice and Attorney General, marking a significant milestone in the EU-PNG Partnership for Good Governance.

The commitment of 4 million kina in funding underscores the EU's dedication to fostering human rights and democracy globally, aligning with the Universal Period of EU Recommendation.

Acknowledging the complexities ahead, H.E. Fradin outlined the threefold support from the EU:

  • finalizing the organic law of the Human Rights Commission,
  • developing an institutional structure for sustainability,
  • and crafting a National Human Rights Policy with an implementation plan.

He stressed the importance of adherence to international standards, ensuring the commission's independence and effectiveness.

In April 2024, the PNG Government through DJAG, The Human Rights Secretariat and the European Union commenced the project to supports the establishment of a Human Rights Commission.

This inception workshop was held on 14th May to plan the execution of the NHRI’s establishment, as it brought together key Government stakeholders and representatives of Civil Society Organization (CSO) groups to discuss crucial issues around the NHRI.

The deployment of a team of experts to the Department of Justice Human Rights Secretariat marked the inception phase's commencement, with consultations ongoing with government stakeholders and civil society representatives.

PNG stands as a growing business and investment hub in the Pacific, with a current population of 10,491,934 as of May 17, 2024, according to the latest United Nations data. The Worldometer elaboration of the latest United Nations data 1:

  • Papua New Guinea 2023 population is estimated at 10,329,931 people at mid-year.
  • Papua New Guinea population is equivalent to 0.13% of the total world population.
  • Papua New Guinea ranks number 92 in the list of countries (and dependencies) by population.
  • The population density in Papua New Guinea is 23 per Km2 (59 people per mi2).
  • The total land area is 452,860 Km2 (174,850 sq. miles)
  • 12.3 % of the population is urban (1,271,933 people in 2023)
  • The median age in Papua New Guinea is 22.2 years.


PNG's significance lies not only in its abundant natural resources but also in its allure for investment and tourism, drawing in a considerable number of people from various backgrounds.

Ambassador Fradin expressed confidence in the project's success, attributing it to the strong national commitment and leadership of the Department of Justice and Attorney General.

Throughout his speech in Port Moresby, H.E. Fradin emphasized collaboration and gratitude, recognizing the contributions of the Department of Justice, Attorney General, Civil Society Organizations, and the deployed team of experts.

He reiterated the EU's sustained support, spanning over a year, with the expectation that it will yield the desired outcomes for Papua New Guinea's human rights landscape.

“As the European ambassador speaking on behalf of the European Union, I hope that the necessary constitutional amendment bill and the organic law will soon become a reality, leading to an independent Human Rights Commission that meets the international standards. Of course, this will take time. This is paved with many difficulties, but as I said in the beginning, this is also paved with good intentions, coordination and our support can only go right,” the envoy added.

“I am confident that your support and the establishment of this Human Rights Commission will be successful, due to the strong national commitment and the Department of Justice, Attorney General's leadership. I extend my gratitude to the Department of Justice, Attorney General, for the great cooperation under the EU-PNG Good Governance Project, to the Civil Society Organization, and also, now I am naming them, to the team of experts that we have been deploying. They are very good, I think.”

The EU's commitment, coupled with the dedication of local stakeholders, sets a promising way forward for the establishment of a robust Human Rights Commission and Policy in the nation.

“It's a long endeavor. It comprises a lot of different interpretations, but at the end, as it's handled by the Department of Justice, it has a meaning, and the way forward, to be approved, is a beautiful one, and I believe in it.” H.E. Fradin reiterated.

Members from the DJAG, Department of Foreign Affairs, Constitutional and Law Reform Commission (CLRC), Department of Personal Management (DPM), Ombudsman Commission of PNG, Independent Commission Against Corruption, Department of Education, and the Department of Health joined the workshop.

Also present were the PNG Police, Department of National Planning and Monitoring (DNPM), National Judicial Staff Services ((NJSS), Department of Provincial and Local Level Government, First Legislative Counsel, and selected members of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and Faith-Based Organizations (FBOs).

The inception phase allows the Government and the experts tasked with overseeing the support towards a NHRI identify and discuss crucial human rights issues around a national institution and identify issues to consult with key stakeholders.

The Inception Workshop gave a clear understanding of;

  • A Paris Principle complaint NHRI
  • A proposed model NHRI for PNG
  • Challenges and opportunities in the establishment of a NHRI

Public consultation will be held following the inception phase.

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