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Archive for September, 2016

Run Fu 2 about to run to Shanghai with a cargo of illegal timber

September 29, 2016 1 comment

run-fu-2-b

The Panama registered bulk carrier, Run Fu 2 is currently loading illegally felled timber from the Turubu SABL in East Sepik and is ready to run to Shanghai with its illegal cargo.

On 31 August, the Supreme Court declared the SABL over Portion 144C null and void and said all logging and oil palm operations are illegal.

But the logging is still continuing right under the nose of the PNG Forestry Authority and on 6 September the Run Fu 2 arrived and started loading logs.

Will the Forest Authority, SGS and PNG Customs allow the Run Fu 2 to leave PNG waters with its illegal cargo?

And if the ship does leave, will the police investigate all those involved in facilitating this theft of valuable timber?

Supreme Court rejects Rimbunan Hijau attempts to avoid serious police assault claim

September 28, 2016 Leave a comment

RH boycott sticker

The Supreme Court has rejected a bid by notorious Malaysian logging company, Rimbunan Hijau, to have a claim against it for orchestrating a brutal police assault thrown out.

Tha plaintiff, John Molu says he was thrown out of a 3 metre high window, threatened at gun point, gun-butted, lashed with wooden sticks and a bulldozer fan belt, punched and kicked and cut with a bush knife. These assaults were allegedly carried out by Sergeant Jerry Biamaga and Constable Frank Johe who were working on behalf of Rimbunan Hijau subsidiary, Wawoi Guavi Timber Company.

The details of the serious assault and human rights violations inflicted by the police officers are all ‘facts’ the Supreme Court says, Rimbunan Hijau’s lawyers tried to ‘gloss over’ in their submissions. The Judges also noted that Rimbunan Hijau has not filed any evidence to contradict Mr Molu’s claims.

There have been numerous documented instances over the past fifteen year of police officers working on behalf of Rimbunan Hijau terrorizing communities opposed to their unlawful and destructive logging operations, see for example:

Mr Molu’s original claim for damages was dismissed for want of prosecution in April 2013, in a hearing the Supreme Court says, Mr Molu’s lawyers were never informed of by Rimbunan Hijau.

The dismissal was overturned in the National Court in September 2013. Rimbunan Hijau then appealed that decision to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court has rejected RH’s appeal. The matter has now been returned to the National Court for trial.

The Supreme Court ordered Rimbunan Hijau pay all the costs of its failed appeal, including the costs of its expensive Australian QC, John Griffin, and the costs of Mr Molu.

O’Neill’s illegal logging: 1,190 days and counting…

September 26, 2016 Leave a comment

Peter O'Neill: Theft of forest resources: Guilty

Prime Minister Peter O’Neill still refuses to do anything to reverse the huge SABL land grab or stop the illegal logging.

So much for all his promises to revoke the unlawful leases and return the land to customary landholders. 

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It is now 1,190 days since the reports of the SABL Commission Inquiry which detail the widespread fraud and mismanagement that has allowed foreign logging companies to gain illegal access to over 5 million hectares of land.

Since June 2013, more than three years ago, O’Neill has REPEATEDLY promised us the leases will be canceled and illegal logging stopped.

In September 2013 O’Neill said in 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 supposedly 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” 

In 2015 the Chief Secretary stated:

“It is widely known that vast amounts of pristine forest have been logged to enrich a corrupt few people, while landowners have unknowingly lost their most valuable asset – their land”.

But, despite all the promises, no action has been taken to cancel the leases, landowners are receiving no support from the government in their battles against the land grabbing and WE ARE STILL WAITING for the logging to be stopped.

For 1,190 days O’Neill has failed to ensure the SABL leases are revoked 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.

SABL_billboard

O’Neill’s illegal logging: 1183 days and counting…

September 19, 2016 Leave a comment

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Peter O'Neill: Theft of forest resources: Guilty

px-logo land grabbing

sabl cartoon

PNG politicians and company execs could now be tried for land grabs in the International Criminal Court

September 19, 2016 Leave a comment

icc

“The ICC announcement in The Hague is critical first step in the crackdown on violence and theft in the global trade in land and natural resources”

Source: Global Witness

A move by the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court to expand its focus signals a landmark shift in international criminal justice and could reshape how business is done in developing countries, says Global Witness. Company executives, politicians and other individuals could now be held criminally responsible under international law for crimes linked to land grabbing and environmental destruction.

Global Witness has been campaigning for the ICC to investigate crimes committed amid the global rush for land and natural resources, which has seen an area the size of Germany leased to investors in developing countries since 2000.[1] This has led to millions of people being evicted from their land – illegally and often violently – in countries that lack functioning national courts. 

Peter O'Neill: Theft of forest resources: Guilty

With 5 million hectares of land stolen and over 3 million people affected by the SABL land grab could Peter O’Neill end up before the ICC?

At its worst, this violence is fatal. According to Global Witness data, in 2015 more than three people were murdered a week defending their land from theft and destructive industries – the deadliest year on record.[2] Conflicts over mining were the number one cause of killings, followed by agribusiness, hydroelectric dams and logging. 

“Chasing communities off their land and trashing the environment has become an accepted way of doing business in many resource-rich yet cash-poor countries,” said Gillian Caldwell, Executive Director at Global Witness.

“The decision by the ICC shows that the age of impunity is coming to an end. Company bosses and politicians complicit in violently seizing land, razing tropical forests or poisoning water sources could soon find themselves standing trial in the Hague alongside war criminals and dictators. The ICC’s interest could help improve the lives of millions of people and protect critical ecosystems.”

In its 14-year history the ICC has focused almost exclusively on crimes committed during armed conflict, whether crimes against humanity or war crimes. This has left a significant blind spot in the Court’s approach – it was not investigating mass atrocities committed in the name of profit that occur during peacetime.

The Court’s Prosecutor, Fatou B. Bensouda, has acknowledged this hole in its focus, adding to its priority list the investigation of crimes that result in the illegal dispossession of land, the illegal exploitation of natural resources and the destruction of the environment. The move comes ahead of a decision by the Prosecutor whether to investigate a case filed in 2014 that catalogues mass human rights abuses linked to systematic land seizures in Cambodia, where business leaders have been working hand-in-glove with the country’s kleptocratic government.[3] 

This change to ICC policy is a critical first step in addressing the legal vacuum that is helping drive violence and theft in the global trade in land. Across much of Africa, Asia and Latin America, rural communities lack legal rights to land, despite having relied upon it for generations. In major consumer blocs like the EU and the US, traders or investors are under no legal obligation to check that products like palm oil, rubber or gold were legally or ethically sourced. 

In an effort to bring an end to the secrecy and impunity that pervade the land sector, Global Witness is campaigning for new EU laws to prevent European investors from financing land grabs abroad, as well as for international regulations to ensure that companies are legally obliged to respect land rights wherever they operate.

“The ICC announcement sends a powerful message that the terrible impacts of land grabbing and environmental destruction have been acknowledged at the highest level of criminal justice,” said Gillian Caldwell.

“National governments and legislators should now follow suit. Land rights must be strengthened in countries that sell land, and respected by the companies that invest in it. A far stronger legal architecture is required internationally to bring an end to the human suffering and environmental cost of the global trade in land.”

Notes to editors:

(1) At least 38.9 million hectares of land has been leased to companies or put under negotiation since 2000. See the Land Matrix Project (as of March 2016) http://www.landmatrix.org/en/

(2) Global Witness (June 2016) On Dangerous Ground,https://www.globalwitness.org/en/reports/dangerous-ground

(3) This case will be a key test for the ICC’s new policy. If accepted, this would be the first case in international criminal law where the primary allegations relate to the illegal exploitation of land. Corporate actors in Cambodia could be the prime targets for investigation – they have been complicit in a widespread and systematic campaign of illegal land seizuresleading to the forcible displacement of hundreds of thousands of Cambodians with the help of the state police, military and judiciary. The case was filed at the ICC by international human rights lawyer Richard J Rogers, of the law firm Global Diligence LLP, relying on evidence collected by Cambodian and international organisations, including Global Witness.

ENDS

O’Neill’s illegal logging: 1176 days and counting…

September 12, 2016 Leave a comment

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Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has completely failed to reverse the huge SABL land grab.

So much for all his promises to revoke the unlawful leases, return the land to rural people and stop the illegal logging!

It is now 1,176 days since the reports of the SABL Commission Inquiry which detail the widespread fraud and mismanagement that has allowed foreign logging companies to gain illegal access to over 5 million hectares of land.

Peter O'Neill: Theft of forest resources: Guilty

Since June 2013, more than three years ago, O’Neill has REPEATEDLY promised us the leases will be canceled and illegal logging stopped.

In September 2013 O’Neill said in 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 supposedly 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” 

In 2015 the Chief Secretary stated:

“It is widely known that vast amounts of pristine forest have been logged to enrich a corrupt few people, while landowners have unknowingly lost their most valuable asset – their land”.

But, despite all the promises, no action has been taken to cancel the leases, landowners are receiving no support from the government in their battles against the land grabbing and WE ARE STILL WAITING for the logging to be stopped.

For 1,176 days O’Neill has failed to ensure the SABL leases are revoked 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.

sabl cartoon

Singapore scam couple’s PNG interests

September 6, 2016 Leave a comment

CPIBAmerican Thomas Doehrman and his Singaporean wife, Lim Ai Wah, have been sentenced to jail in Singapore for a corruption scam involving funds provided by the PNG government, but the couple have other links to PNG, including through two locally registered companies, ITE Ventures Limited and Quest Investments Limited.

ITE Ventures

Doehrman and his wife Lim are listed by the IPA as the sole owners of Quest Investments Limited and Doehrman is a director of ITE Ventures. Both Michael Somare and Greg Sheppard are also listed as directors of ITE Ventures alongside Doehrman, and Sheppard is also listed as a director of Quest Investments.

Quest Investments

According to the Singapore court case, in 2010, Doehrman was one of three trustees of the Inclusive Education for National Development for Community Education (ITE) Trust in PNG. The trust was established by the government of Michael Somare to set up community colleges.

In June 2010, the trust hired the Chinese ZTE Corporation to supply telecom equipment in a contract valued at US$35 million. ZTE then named Questzone Offshore, a shell company set up in the British Virgin Islands by Doehrman and Lim, as a sub contractor. ZTE paid $3.6 million to Questzone in July 2010 based on false invoice for purported services that were never delivered.

The Singapore authorities say from the $3.6 falsely paid to Questzone, Michael Somare received $784,000. According to the Singaporean’s that money was the proceeds of a criminal enterprise. The money was paid to Somare via three cheques deposited into his Singapore Standard Chartered Bank account in August, September, and November 2010.

Lim was a director of the BIV registered Questzone Offshore and Doehrman a director of Quest Petroleum (Singapore).

What has not been exposed in the Singapore court case is Doehrman and Lim’s interests in the two PNG registered companies, Quest Investments and ITE Ventures.

ITE Ventures Limited has a very similar name to the ITE Trust. It has three listed directors, Thomas Doehrman, Michael Somare and Gregory James Sheppard (who is also the company secretary). According to the Investment Promotion Authority, ITE Ventures is wholly owned by the ITE Trust.

ITE 2

Then there is Quest Investment, another PNG registered company. According to the IPA, this company is solely owned by Doehrman and Wah. Like ITE Ventures, Quest has three directors, in this case, Thomas Doehrman, Lim Ai Wah and Gregory James Sheppard.

Quest 2

Neither PNG company has been mentioned in the media in relation to the Singapore case and there is no suggestion at this time that either company has been involved in any criminal activity or other wrongdoing.