Papua New Guinea is a constitutional federal multiparty parliamentary democracy. The most recent general elections were held June 30 through July 10, 2007; there were localized instances of voter intimidation, election-related violence, and influence peddling. A coalition government, led by Prime Minister Michael Somare, was formed following the election. While civilian authorities generally maintained effective control of the security forces, there were some instances in which elements of the security forces acted independently. The government generally respected the human rights of its citizens; however, abuses were documented, including arbitrary or unlawful killings by police; police abuse of detainees, including children; poor prison conditions; lengthy pretrial detention; infringement of citizens' privacy rights; government corruption; violence and discrimination against women and children; discrimination against persons with disabilities; and intertribal violence.
In cooperation with the federal and local governments and NGOs, the U.S. government seeks to promote democratic principles, practices, values, and human rights in its engagement in Papua New Guinea.
U.S. officials continue to work through the International Visitor Leadership Program to provide journalists and future leaders exposure to democratic systems and values. The United States continues to provide training that emphasizes respect for human rights to defense personnel through the International Military Education and Training program, Title X military conferences, and the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies. A series of Joint Combined Exercise Training programs in basic soldiering skills will enhance the overall competence of the defense force.
The U.S. government encourages other diplomatic missions to channel additional assistance to the country's transnational crime units and to help police enhance their understanding of human rights and responsible policing. The results are reflected in more positive media coverage and public commentary about the police. Police cooperate with the Embassy on external security and investigations.
The U.S. government also focuses significant attention to promoting civil rights, including the rights of women, and encouraging a free and fair political process. U.S. officials have teamed with local universities, NGOs, and think tanks and delivered topical addresses and presentations throughout the nation on these issues.