Papua New Guinea: Indigenous People stripped of land rights

by June 2, 2010
 

Indigenous Landowners have been stripped of their Constitutionally-protected land rights by the government of Papua New Guinea (PNG).

Without any warning or consultation, on 27 May 2010, the government of PNG introduced emergency legislation that dissolves the Constitutional rights of all landowners in PNG, including the right of Indigenous People to own land, challenge resource projects in court and receive any form compensation for environmental damage.

"The legislation was passed by Parliament without anybody being allowed to see the Bill before it was presented", comments ACT NOW!, an independent organization based in PNG. "Nobody was allowed to read or comment on the text. There was no scrutiny by a Select Committee and not even a Parliamentary debate."

The driving force behind the legislation and its secrecy--like pretty much every draconian measure ever introduced into law--is "National Interest."

According to the Act's Preamble:

“The law is being made in light of the recent court decision that has exposed resource projects to the risk that any permits granted by the state in satisfaction of legal and scientific requirements may not be enforceable… all major mining and petroleum resource projects (such as [Exxon Mobil] LNG) are particularly at risk affecting the economy and therefore a matter of national interest.”

The recent court decision referred to in the act concerns the Chinese-owned Ramu nickel mine in Madang Province.

The mine has been met with a great deal of resistance by local indigenous landowners because of its submarine tailings disposal plan that would dump more than 100 million tons of tailings waste into Basamuk Bay. The Indigenous landowners fear the waste would eventually destroy their traditional livelihoods along with the environment.

A secret report commissioned by the PNG government recently confirmed these fears. According to Ramu Nickel Mine Watch, the unpublished report "says the mine waste will not lie dormant on the sea floor, as claimed by the Chinese State owned Ramu mine, but will be widely dispersed in the Vitiaz Strait, notably towards Madang and Kakar Island and across Astrolobe Bay."

Sadly, with this new law in place, the Landowners' fears might as well be promises from the PNG government and the China Metallurgical Construction Company. In effect, the company is now free to dump its waste into Basamuk Bay with impunity. They don't even have to worry about getting fined.

What You Can Do

ACT NOW! is inviting the public to send an email to the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, telling him what you think of these deplorable measures, now embedded within the country's Environment law.

Overall, the legislation:

  • Removes landowners customary and legal rights;
  • Gives the government unfettered power to approve resource projects;
  • Denys anyone the right of challenge through the courts; and
  • Takes away ALL legal rights to compensation for environmental damage.

Send your emails to Prime Minister Michael Somare, via his Press Secretary: betha_somare@pm.gov.pg

Also, please include a copy of your letter to info@actnowpng.org

SAMPLE LETTER

Dear Prime Minister Michael Somare,

I implore you to RESTORE the Environment Act and REVOKE these newly-legislated measures that deprive all Landowners in Papua New Guinea of their most basic rights: Their right to land, their right to live in a clean and safe environment, their right to justice.

If the tables were turned, Prime Minister, I believe you would be standing beside the People, struggling with your People and their rights in what is supposed to be a DEMOCRATIC society.

Draconian measures like these are UNACCEPTABLE in todays world; a world that is being drown by climate change, and where the Rights of Mother Earth and all Human Beings have taken precedence over short term economic gains and ideas of "National Interest."

If we do not preserve our Environment and Protect our Human rights than there is no Nation.

Prime Minister Somare, if you take pride in your Nation, RESTORE THE ENVIRONMENTAL ACT!!!

Sincerely,

Like this article? Pitch in so we can bring you more just like it

comments
 
Leave a reply »

 
  • June 2, 2010 at 10:03 am

    here is a response to this bill from the Porgera Landowners Association in PNG (near Barrick's Porgera mine) http://www.porgeraalliance.net/2010/06/statement-brief-on-new-bill-to-strip-rights-to-land/

    Reply

  • Russ
    June 2, 2010 at 12:35 pm

    The more I read about this wanton destruction of the earth, the more I believe there may be something after all to the Mayan calendar.

    Reply

  • jim
    June 2, 2010 at 5:54 pm

    Once again Government has pandered to Overseas Companies .
    As we have seen in Australia the Indigenous "owners "see their resources profits go to overseas shareholders or bloated cities where non productive people and Politicians mill around in circles - always with their hands out !

    Reply

  • Thunderspirit
    June 9, 2010 at 1:14 am

    This is sad that a powerful intervention must take place on behalf of the tribal nations of Papua New Guinea and mother earth.

    Reply

  • June 11, 2010 at 7:44 pm

    I spent the first 13 years of my life in Papua New Guinea at the time I lived there the food and water was pristine. In fact me and my siblings have experienced some of the best health from the time we spent in Mt Hagen. I am so disturbed now to hear that the Government has stripped the people of their basic rights. I remember that Michael Somare was the Prime Minister when I was growing up in PNG so many years ago and I find it highly suspicious that he is back in power and the exploitation of the various resources of PNG have gotten incredibly out of hand. PNG was one of the last places 'discovered' by white man, and not that long ago, so it is indeed very telling about the condition of our world to find this last remote island being overexploited as it is.

    Reply

  • Thunderbeing
    June 18, 2010 at 9:05 pm

    It seem to me that the Chinese corporation and or Chinese government has something to do with this threw advice.That this way may be the only way this Chinese corporation can proceed with this wanton destruction is by stripping the rights of the people.This government was advised and they heeded the destroyers over their own for dirty money.I truly feel for the tribal people out there and i promise you that whoever is responsible for this injustice will pay either it be your government the Chinese corporation or the Chinese government whomever is responsible will face punishment in one way or another.The great spirits are watching over all that is and has happened out there and a response is soon at hand or may have already started.

    Reply

  • Fellow Man
    June 23, 2010 at 10:48 am

    The Earth belongs to every Man and Woman equally - period!

    Reply

  • June 30, 2010 at 10:45 am

    Some very disturbing news has come in. Papua New Guinea has reportedly banned all reporting and public discussion of the so-called "emergency legislation" discussed above.

    http://www.terradaily.com/reports/PNG_slaps_blackout_on_environmental_case_999.html

    Cultural Survival has set up an action page. Please lend your voice to the Papua New Guinea!!

    http://www.culturalsurvival.org/take-action/papua-new-guinea-defend-indigenous-rights-and-protect-marine-life

    As a side note, I will be speaking to the people of Avaaz shortly.

    Reply

  • June 30, 2010 at 11:08 am

    Ok, just sent the message to Avaaz. Hopefully they come through like last time.

    Reply

  • Fresh Water TigerShark
    July 26, 2010 at 12:35 am

    In Melanesia when we loose our land, we also loose our forest, our rivers, we loose our ancestral homes in the forest adn caves and the stories that came down genrations with them. We also loose our livelihood, where we get our food, our medicine, our building materials and our legends and folklores.

    When all is gone ....we are no longer a people, we become nothing and that is the start of the disappearing of our culture, our ethnicity, our bloodline and our future.

    Sorry Melanesia ....from Bird's head to Samarai to Manus to Bougainville to Solomons to Vanuation to Kanky and Fiji. Let all thE soNs and daughterS of Melanesians stand together, UNITED behind the Melanesian Spearhead Group and stop this ripping and rapping of our environment and culture.

    United we stand Divided we fall.

    MELANESIANS SON
    PAPUA NIUGINI

    Reply

  • Andreas Almén - Karlsson
    May 20, 2011 at 6:49 am

    Dear Prime Minister Michael Somare,

    I implore you to RESTORE the Environment Act and REVOKE these newly-legislated measures that deprive all Landowners in Papua New Guinea of their most basic rights: Their right to land, their right to live in a clean and safe environment, their right to justice.

    If the tables were turned, Prime Minister, I believe you would be standing beside the People, struggling with your People and their rights in what is supposed to be a DEMOCRATIC society.

    Draconian measures like these are UNACCEPTABLE in todays world; a world that is being drown by climate change, and where the Rights of Mother Earth and all Human Beings have taken precedence over short term economic gains and ideas of "National Interest."

    If we do not preserve our Environment and Protect our Human rights than there is no Nation.

    Prime Minister Somare, if you take pride in your Nation, RESTORE THE ENVIRONMENTAL ACT!!!

    Sincerely,

    Reply

Leave a Response