Human Rights and Social Welfare of Refugees


PNG is steadfast in its commitment to protect refugees. These commitments are outlined within the country legislation together with PNG’s new National Refugee Policy. The framework for protecting refugees and their rights is contained within the 1951 Convention on the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol.

PNG acceded to these international conventions in 1987. In 2008 under Refugee Convention, Papua New Guinea also acceded to (a) the International Covenant on Economic and Social and Cultural rights and (b) International Convention of Civil and Political Rights of refugees.

On 19 July 2013 the Prime Minister advised the Secretary General of the United Nations that PNG had withdrawn its reservations to certain elements of the Refugees Convention effectively giving refugees more privileges including work rights.

The rights of refugees are outlined within the Refugees Convention. PNG is in the process of enshrining all of these rights within the domestic laws and the measures that Government will take to implement these rights are outlined within PNG’s National Refugee Policy.

PNG does not have an extensive social welfare system. The National Refugee Policy, however, recognises the importance of enabling refugees to find employment and support themselves as quickly as possible. To achieve this, refugees will receive a range of support based on their needs.

For West Papuans, who have been here for many years and established livelihoods, this support will be focused on providing them the same rights and legal status as Papua New Guineans, through the provision of citizenship. For recently arrived refugees, this may include language and cultural orientation assistance, case management support, and assistance to find employment and accommodation. 

ICA conducts rigorous assessments to ensure that any non-refugee who is removed from PNG will not be subject to torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, arbitrary deprivation of life or imposition of the death penalty.