MP charged with murder in Papua New Guinea

An MP and his associate have been charged with murder in PNG. The charges relate to a recent incident in a restaurant in Port Moresby, in which a man died of gunshot wounds. The deceased was named as Robert Jerry, a father of seven children. The gun was later determined to belong to Lohia Boe Samuel, the MP for the Moresby North-West. Mr Samuel’ s application for bail was denied.

This incident comes as concerns about security and the availability of firearms grows ahead of the elections to be held later this year. Reports of guns being transported into Highlands areas have sparked fears that the elections may prove a trigger for violence, as has been seen previously. Meanwhile the PNG police have said that they do not yet have the number of firearms they require to provide security during the polling period.

Fake guns shipped to Solomon Islands

A recent shipment into Solomon Islands has raised eyebrows and concerns with the full story yet to become clear.

Local media reported that a shipment of firearms from China had arrived in Honiara and that the guns had been unloaded without normal clearance procedures having been completed. Reports indicated that the guns were unloaded from a Chinese-Malaysian logging vessel that had docked at a private wharf owned by a Chinese business.

Customs officials later said that the firearms were replicas that could not be fired and were to be used for training purposes by the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force. This comes further to a recent delivery of other training equipment provided by China. This was confirmed by police authorities, but they have not addressed the non-standard mode of the firearms’ arrival into the country.

COVID-19 in the Pacific

The sweep of COVID-19 across the region continues. In Vanuatu, the case numbers are rising, although the number of hospitalisations remains very low. Although the government has issued new public health orders, there seems to be a lot of confusion in the community as to what the current rules are.

Last week, the government of Niue announced that COVID-19 was now present there, having previously been COVID-free. This has prompted a member of the Opposition, MP Terry Coe, to lodge a motion of no confidence in the Tagelagi government. He claims that he has the backing of four of the members of the 20-seat Fono (Parliament).

Samoa is seeing the numbers of reported cases surge since community transmission was confirmed late last week. Authorities have advised that the virus may have been circulating in the community for days or even weeks before being picked up.

Peaceful protests come under fire in West Papua

Reports from West Papua claim that participants in peaceful protests have been injured and killed by Indonesian security forces. The protests were against proposals by the Indonesian government to create new provinces in the region. Jakarta claims that this will allow for improved service delivery by way of decentralisation. However, reports from on the ground indicate that many in the Papuan community see this as an attempt to ‘divide and conquer’ the pro-independence movement.

Meanwhile, more than 40 students from West Papua who are studying in New Zealand are facing a very uncertain future with their funding and allowances having been cut by the Indonesian government. Jakarta claims that the students are failing in their studies and that this is the reason for the finances being axed. This has been rejected by the students, several of whom are close to completing their courses.


Tess Newton Cain is an Adjunct Associate Professor at the Griffith Asia Institute and project lead of the Pacific Hub.