Paga Hill relocation was “legitimate”, developers insist
The Paga Hill Development Company has insisted the forced relocation of a settlement in Port Moresby, PNG was legitimate.
The UK-based International State Crime Initiative recently released a report questioning the legitimacy of the company’s land deal and condemning the eviction of the community, which was to make way for a multi-million dollar marina and hotel.
“It contravened the UN principles on development-based forced eviction,” Dr Kristian Lasslett, the Initiative’s PNG co-ordinator told Radio Australia’s Pacific Beat program.
Media reports at the time described how 100 police officers backed by bulldozers stormed the settlement on May 12, just as a national court was granting an injunction to stop the demolition.
“The police went down there, they were armed, they used their firearms, they aimed their guns and fired them at civilians who were unarmed. They bulldozed properties without allowing the owners to remove their personal possessions,” Dr Lasslett said.
His report also questioned the Paga Hill Development Company’s ability to follow through on a promise to resettle the community at the Six Mile settlement.
The company’s director, George Hallit, also spoke to Pacific Beat, and insisted that the “legitimacy to our title is undisputed, it cannot be denied”.
“We’ve been subject to no less then three judicial reviews, public accounts commission inquiry, an ombudsman commission investigation, each of which have exonerated us,” he said.
He also said that in an “unprecented move” land to relocate the Paga Hill residents had been secured at Six Mile, and said that each household would receive a block of 300 square metres.
Unpaid land tax
Meanwhile, Dame Carol Kidu, who was the formally the member of parliament for the area, told Radio Australia that she supports the development of Paga Hill.
However, she said insisted the Paga Hill Development Company had no right to the land.
“On my last knowledge (earlier this year when I had records checked), they have still not paid PNG government millions of kina for outstanding land tax and their company was behind with submitting annual returns to the state,” she wrote in a statement.
“The land was never put on public tender and they have ‘acquired’ at no cost the title to multi-million kina land.”
Listen on-line to Dr Kristian Lasslett from the International State Crime Initiative discuss concerns over the Paga Hill land deal and community relocation and George Hallit, director of the Paga Hill Development Company insists their dealings are above board.