Papua New Guinea is located on the eastern half of the island of New Guinea, which is the second largest island in the world. The country was divided between Germany and UK in 1885. In 1976 Papua New Guinea became an independent country. According to the 2000 census, 96% of the population identified themselves as Christians and the number of Muslims was around 4.000 people. The freedom of religion is guaranteed by the constitution of the country.

Systemic Discrimination
Mostly Satisfactory

Constitution and government

The constitution protects the rights to religious freedom, conscience and to freedom of thought. There is no official state religion but the preamble of the PNG constitution points to Christian principles which are the principle of the country.


According to a publication by the Australian social and political science researcher Dr. Scott Flower, the Muslim minority in Papua New Guinea (PNG) has grown by around 500% since 2001. The reason for this large change of religious demography is the increase of conversions to Islam by indigenous people. This change have caused tensions in Christian-Muslim relation in (PNG). The people decide to embrace Islam because they want to resist or reject the influence of Christianity. They associate Christianity with colonization and the destruction of the traditional culture.
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Education and children’s rights

Education in PNG is a shared venture with other agencies. The Catholic Church is one of those agencies. After the independence of PNG churches were pioneers of Western education in PNG. In 1995 churches operated 20 professional schools nurses and other community health workers. The National Department of Education estimates that churches provide 29 % of lower secondary education.

Churches continue to run most schools and many health services, and the government provides support for these institutions. In addition, the government pays the salary and provides benefits for the majority of teachers and health staff (generally members of the civil service) who work at these church-administered institutions, as it does with teachers and health staff of national institutions.

It is the policy of the Department of Education to set aside one hour per week for religious instruction in the public schools. Representatives of Christian churches teach the lessons, and students attend the class operated by the church of their parents’ choice. Children whose parents do not wish them to attend the classes are excused.

Family, community and society

Witch hunts

Witch hunt in PNG is still increasingly common. 80% of the population in PNG still live in the bush. According to the PNG’s Constitutional and Law Reform Commission 150 attacks a year were reported in the Highlands province of Simbu alone. In February 2013 a 20-year old woman was accused of killing and eating the liver of a 6-year-old boy. She was tortured and burned

alive in front of hundreds of people. Police said that they were outnumbered and couldn’t save the woman. In PNG witchcraft is often blamed for unexplained misfortunes.


PNG has strict anti-gay laws which “provide a 14 year sentence for consensual sex between same-sex couples”. This induced many LGBT personalities to seek for asylum in other countries.

Freedom of expression, advocacy of humanist values

Freedom of speech is generally guaranteed and the government respects this freedom as well as freedom of media in practice. PNG’s Customer Act prohibits importation of films considering blasphemous, depraved or containing contents which include sex, violence and crime. The usual sentence for breaking the law is confiscation and destruction of prohibited goods, but the courts can impose a fine or a sentence of prison up to 2 years. It is unclear whether the prison sentence would apply to specifically “blasphemous” content.

There is no government news agency in PNG but there are several privately operated news agencies. Pacific Media Watch is a non-government, independent organization of journalists which supports freedom of media in the Pacific region.