20 Jan 2006

PNG police accused of spreading Aids through sexual abuse of suspects

3:36 pm on 20 January 2006

A leading rights group says police officers in Papua New Guinea are helping to spread HIV/Aids by sexually abusing suspects.

The New York-based group Human Rights Watch reports violence by members of the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary has driven sex workers and homosexual boys underground.

The report said this pushed them away from life-saving information on HIV prevention and health care services.

The report claims police continue to harass people who possess condoms and they often force individuals to chew and swallow condoms and the plastic wrappers.

Human Rights Watch says such responses deter condom use and undermine efforts to stop the spread of Aids.

The international organisation says UNICEF is trying to establish a juvenile justice system in Papua New Guinea.

But it warned that the country's failure to hold police accountable for violence against children threatens to undermine any positive developments.