Rimbunan Hijau takeover of PNG almost complete – all funded through illegal logging, land grabbing and other corruption!
Loggers unveil big expansion plans
From Freddy Mou on PNG Loop
Rimbunan Hijau, the giant logging company in PNG, opened its K5 million service station depot at Vision City Shopping mall in Port Moresby today.
Executive director Nathaniel Ho says RH has been in the country for the past 20 years and such investments will help the people of PNG and create more job opportunities for them.
“With the influx of vehicles and traffic delays being experienced at the moment in the city, there is a need for more service stations to eradicate these problems. RH has seen the problem and has assessed how we will be tackling the issues,” he said.
He said RH will also be setting up other depots around the city and make life easier for the people.
Meanwhile, Ho has also announced that RH will be building a similar Vision City in Lae with the project starting early next year.
Other major towns they will be expanding to are Kokopo, Mt Hagen and Madang.
A leading scientific group is criticizing the government of Papua New Guinea for failing to make good on its promise to phase out Special Agricultural and Business Leases (SABLs), which the group sees as a major threat to PNG’s environment and people.
“The SABL situation is a mess,” said William Laurance, a professor at James Cook University in Australia and director of ALERT—the Alliance of Leading Environmental Scientists and Thinkers.
Many national and international groups have worried that the leases, which cover 11% of PNG’s land area and can run for as long as 99 years, will lead to serious environmental degradation and alienate indigenous groups from their traditional lands.
“A two-year Commission of Inquiry concluded that most SABLs should be abolished, and the government promised to do so,” said Corey Bradshaw, a professor at the University of Adelaide in Australia. “But it hasn’t happened and some of the most damaging SABLs are continuing.”
“The SABLs were supposed to promote agricultural development, but some have been misused to get around logging laws and the constitutional rights of PNG citizens to their customary land,” said Bradshaw.
“As a result, huge amounts of rainforest are being logged and cleared and the timber sold overseas,” said Laurance.
“There’s also been widespread evidence of fraud and other irregularities,” said Bradshaw. “In many cases the concerns of local landowners are being overrun by big corporations.”
“The PNG government needs to phase out the big SABLs that are really just a guise for logging and land theft,” said Laurance.
“It’s not just PNG citizens that are worried about this,” said Laurance. “The world is watching too, and we hope the PNG government can show real leadership and put a stop to this environmental and social travesty.”
For further information:
Distinguished Professor William Laurance, James Cook University, Cairns, Australia
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; Phone: 07-4038-1518 (+61-7-4038-1518 internationally)
It is now 480 days since Prime Minister Peter O’Neill was told that the SABL leases were unlawful and should be revoked.
It was on June 24, 2013 that he was given the reports of the SABL Commission Inquiry which detail the widespread fraud and mismanagement used by foreign logging companies to gain illegal access to over 5 million hectares of land.
O’Neill has REPEATEDLY STATED the leases will be canceled and illegal logging stopped.
In September 2013 O’Neill told Parliament:
“We will no longer watch on as foreign owned companies come in and con our landowners, chop down our forests and then take the proceeds offshore”
In June 2014, announcing an NEC decision cancelling the leases, O’Neill said
“We are taking these steps to reclaim our customary land illegally lost to foreigners with the help of corrupt public servants and leaders”
“As a responsible government we want to ensure that all citizens have access to the lands of their ancestors. We will not allow our land to be lost to unscrupulous people out to con our people”
But, WE ARE STILL WAITING for the leases to be cancelled and the logging stopped.
For 480 days O’Neill has failed to revoke the SABL leases and has been complicit in the illegal logging of our forests by foreign logging companies.
Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has aided and abetted the theft of logs worth hundreds of million of kina and the destruction of thousands of hectares of pristine forest.
Unprecedented Case filed at International Criminal Court proposes land grabbing in Cambodia as a Crime Against Humanity
Lets hope we will soon see political leaders, senior public servants and foreign businessmen being held to account for land grabbing and illegal logging in Papua New Guinea just as they are in Cambodia – watch out Peter O’Neill, Belden Namah, Romilly Kila-Pat, Kanawi Pouru, James Lau…
Andrew Simms | Huffington Post
A case brought to the International Criminal Court this week could change the way we view the problem of “land grabbing” and trigger a major review of how the human rights violations that result are considered under international law.
Land grabbing is rampant globally. Each year, in countries such as Cambodia, millions of hectares of land are illegally taken from the people who live on it, often through violence and intimidation, to make way for mining, timber or agricultural plantations. The institutions who should provide justice to the victims of land grabbing are often the very groups driving the problem – national governments and their elites who frame land seizures as an unfortunate but inevitable step on the path to economic development, and quash any resistance.
The case lodged at The Hague on Tuesday alleges that land grabbing conducted in Cambodia ‘on a truly massive scale’ amounts to a crime against humanity, and should be punishable under international law. It goes on to explain how Cambodia’s ruling elite has waged a campaign of land seizure characterised by murder, illegal imprisonment and persecution. It provides evidence that since 2000, 770,000 people have been adversely affected by land grabbing, many of them already forcibly displaced from their homes, with 20,000 new victims in the first three months of 2014 alone. In the capital Phnom Penh, ten per cent of the population has been directly affected.
The complaint has been filed on behalf of ten Cambodian victims, whose identity has been protected due to fears of retribution. Their lawyer, from Global Diligence LLP, alleges that the country’s ruling elite – senior members of government, security forces, and business leaders – have waged a widespread and systematic attack on Cambodian civilians, motivated by ‘self-enrichment and maintaining power at all costs’.
Cambodia is no stranger to high-profile land rights cases. Since 2000, the equivalent of more than 70% of Cambodia’s arable land has been leased out – a significant proportion in a country where nearly eight out of ten people depend on land and natural resources for their livelihoods. Among the headline-hitting cases were land grabs for sugar plantations that supply Tate & Lyle, the Boeung Lake fiasco which resulted in the World Bank suspending funding to Cambodia in 2011, and acquisitions by rubber companies like Vietnamese giant Hoang Anh Gia Lai.
These disputes must no longer be seen in isolation. The complaint asks the International Criminal Court to consider them as symptoms of aggressive state policy, the impacts of which transcend the boundaries of human rights abuses and domestic crimes, and contain all of the legal elements that constitute crimes against humanity.
Land deals are often conducted in secret, so available figures are likely to be a gross underestimate. But we know that over the last decade as much as 49 million hectares – an area just smaller than the size of Spain – has changed hands or is under negotiation. Many governments and companies peddle the myth that large-scale agriculture is necessary to feed the world. But this argument ignores the fact that small-scale farmers still produce more than 80% of the food consumed in Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. And they do this without routinely resorting to violence, persecution or evictions. Far from furthering development, taking land away from ordinary citizens undercuts it, representing one of the biggest threats to poverty alleviation.
If the International Criminal Court accepts the case, it paves the way for others to be pursued at the international level and could signal a ground-breaking shift in how land deals are done globally.
Surprisingly, large-scale land investments are still relatively ungoverned internationally. Since 2012, the US, Europe and Hong Kong have all introduced binding requirements for oil, gas and mining companies to publicly report on payments they make to governments. Meanwhile, Europe, the US and Australia have also introduced laws to prevent the import of illegal timber. No binding international regulations exist, however, to stop agribusiness companies from illegally acquiring, clearing or managing land.
If the Cambodian government is held to account for these crimes, other governments and the companies involved will have to heed the warning and recognise that land grabbing is too big a price to pay for doing business.