NZ PM John Key and Papua New Guinea’s worst illegal logging firm
New Zealand Prime Minister John Key has been snapped happily posing with a copy of The National newspaper, a wholly owned and controlled subsidiary of Rimbunan Hijau. The Malaysian logging company has a long history of illegal logging, forest destruction and human rights abuse in PNG, but none of that seems to worry Key
The NZ PM is in Port Moresby for a Pacific Island Forum meeting, where climate change is top of the agenda. Which is something of an irony given RH’s major role in clearing thousands of hectares of tropical forests.
But that is not the only crime Rimbunan Hijau is involved in. Last year RH was also exposed in a multi-agency report as employing police officers to brutalize local communities in logging areas.
In 2013 the Commission of Inquiry into Special Agriculture Business Leases revealed Rimbunan Hijau’s role at the centre of a huge corrupt and illegal land grab:
‘With corrupt government officials from implementing agencies riding shotgun for them, opportunistic loggers masquerading as agro-forestry developers are prowling our countryside, scoping opportunities to take advantage of gullible landowners and desperate for cash clan leaders… Our investigations reveal that over 50% of the so-called developers’ currently holding subleases on SABLs are connected in one way or another to Rimbunan Hijau (RH) Limited, which by far is the biggest logging operator in PNG’.
The inquiry concluded more than 90% of the leases investigated were unlawful and should be revoked. But RH has not relinquished any of its stolen ground.
But Rimbunan Hijau’s long history of abuse in PNG goes back far further
A 2004 report, The Untouchables – Rimbunan Hijau’s world of forest crime and political patronage, exposed RH as one of the world’s largest forest destroyers; its operations characterised by documented illegalities and environmental destruction and protected by an extensive and well-established network of political patronage and media control.
The SBS television company in Australia has also exposed Rimbunan Hijau’s human rights abuses. This is the video testimony of one police officer who was employed by RH:
“We handled those suspects good and proper. We bashed them up, we hit them with huge irons and when we mobilised in there we made sure that these people who complain against rights of their benefit were manhandled, you know. I became violent because of their [Rimbunan Hijau’s] actions, because of their instructions”.
For a more complete dossier of Rimbunan Hijau human rights abuses check out this review.
Rimbunan Hijau is the largest logging company operating in PNG where at least 70% of logging operations are illegal – as revealed in a 2014 report from the prestigious Chatham House group in London. That is a figure confirmed by the World Bank.