24 Dec 2003

PNG ombudsman may investigate alleged breaches of human rights in Madang

1:33 pm on 24 December 2003

The ombudsman in Papua New Guinea is considering a full investigation into alleged breaches of human rights in the Madang eviction exercise.

12,000 people are reported to be homeless after Madang provincial authorities asked police to evict people from legal and illegal settlements by torching their houses.

Chief ombudsman, Ila Geno, told the Post Courier newspaper that he's aware of the reports and is quite concerned that homes and other properties have allegedly been destroyed and families are homeless.

Mr Geno says officers of the ombudsman commission have been delegated powers to make initial inquiries to establish the facts before a decision is made for an investigation proper to be conducted.

He says it's appropriate that the public solicitor and his offices be alerted to help settlers whose rights were allegedly violated.

Mr Geno says, however, that illegal settlements and related criminal activities are a real problem and that issue needs to be addressed by all parties in a democratic manner.