Tkatchenko slams report on human trafficking

Foreign Affairs Minister Justin Tkatchenko has expressed concern regarding a United States Government report published in the media recently.

He said the downgrade in the human trafficking watch list produced by the United States (U.S.) is of circumstantial evidence and unproven.

National Government concerns were also expressed by Foreign Affairs Secretary Elias Wohengu, with US Charge D'Affaires Matthew Bunt in a 'please explain' meeting of parties.

Minister Tkatchenko noted that the report's conclusion that PNG's status has been downgraded from Tier 2 Trafficking In Persons (TIP) to Tier 3 in accordance with US Government standards, was a lack of good faith on its part as a key bilateral partner.

Minister Tkatchenko added that the US Government had failed to furnish to the Papua New Guinea National Government, substantial evidence that its legislations or democratic institutions encourage trafficking in persons activities.

This includes the lack of real evidence that international syndicates thrive in this illicit business in the country, as the US report assumes.

Minister Tkatchenko's response also cited concerns raised by Chinese Ambassador H.E Zheng Fanhua, that Chinese entities have been singled out in the report.

Furthermore, Minister Tkatchenko underscored that the Marape-Rosso coalition government has been one that propagated the importance of the “Rule of Law” and the “Protection of its Citizens as well as Foreign Residents in country”.

Minister Tkatchenko cited that Papua New Guinea like the other 192 member states of the United Nations around the world, is a signatory party to International Human Rights conventions such as the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, Rights of the Child and Rights of Persons with Disabilities, as well as core covenants on civil and political rights, racial discrimination and economic, social and cultural rights.  

In addition, PNG provides its Universal Periodic Reviews (UPR) on its Human Rights record to the Human Rights Council in a four-year cycle to be reviewed by its peers.

Minister Tkatchenko has welcomed assurances by US Charge D’Affaires, Matthew Bunt that the US Government is committed to partner with PNG to combat this issue, and offered that the National Government is genuinely ready to partner with the US on the issue.

Minister Tkatchenko cited the signing of the PNG – US Defence Cooperation Agreement (DCA) along with the PNG – US Ship-Rider Agreement last year coupled with the signed TPN 505 Articles agreement in 2022 as significant milestones in the bilateral relationship between the two countries which should not be taken lightly.

“Papua New Guinea is a serious and genuine regional leader and global advocate of peace and security in the world today. We will always work with all our key bilateral partners with hindsight of our Foreign Policy of “Universalism” albeit the increase in geopolitical contestations between the US and the People’s Republic of China around the globe, but most importantly in our region,” maintained Minister Tkatchenko.

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