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PNG Cabinet endorses review on country’s sex laws

22OCTOBER 2010 PORT MORESBY (THE NATIONAL) —- Papua New Guinea (PNG) Cabinet has endorsed a review on existing laws governing prostitution and unnatural sex offences to be undertaken by the Constitutional and Law Reform Commission (CLRC). The policy submission, from Community Development Minister Dame Carol Kidu, went before the National Executive Council on 01 June.

The council then directed Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Ano Pala to refer the criminal laws and other relevant matters to CLRC. The submission had sought approval to strengthen PNG’s response to HIV/AIDS and review criminal laws on the sex business and consensual homosexual practices from the social and health perspectives.

During a presentation to the UNFPA and UNAIDS-funded first Asia-Pacific regional consultation on HIV and sex work in Pattaya, Thailand, last week, Dame Carol said advocating legal reform related to sexuality, sex work, HIV and the law had been piecemeal but within a strategic three-pronged approach to change laws that cover sexual behaviours.

She said despite parliament’s passage of protective laws in March 2002, she was seeking amendments to the Criminal Code to:

*Remove punitive laws that criminalise consensual adult private sexual behaviour; *Strengthen laws on non-consensual adult sex (recognising male rape, marital rape and rape by way of forced penetration); *New laws in Criminal Code to protect and cover children in prostitution, child pornography and incest; *Amendments to evidence laws for rape and sexual assault victims; and

*Empowering laws and policies to recognise the need to focus on poverty alleviation and the importance of the informal economy.

She said rights and freedoms guaranteed by the PNG Constitution and relevant to sex work included the right to freedom of employment (section 48) and the right to privacy (section 49).

The minister warned that if the work with CLRC becomes too difficult, she would file a reference in the Supreme Court against these punitive laws based on the human rights framework