The National Court has ruled another two Special Agriculture and Business Leases issued by the Department of Lands unlawful.
The judge found there was “a clear indication or suggestion of dubious, reckless or corrupt dealings or actions by the Defendants” – The Department of Lands and the Minister, Puka Temu.
There have now been at least seven reported cases in which the courts have found the Department of Lands failed to follow proper process in the issuing of SABL leases and have declared the leases null and void.
In this latest case customary landowners in East New Britain challenged the decision of the Minister for Lands to grant two SABL leases over their traditional land at Giregire in 2004.
The Court found the Department of Lands and the Minister failed to follow the provisions of Sections 10, 11 and 102 of the Lands Act in granting the leases and made “fundamental” and “serious” errors.
In particular, there was no evidence of any agreement between the Minister and the landholders as to the terms and conditions on which the land would be leased and no evidence the Minister had even discharged his duty to meet with the landholders to ascertain their views!
The court found the Department and Minister acted contrary to Sections 11 and 102 of the Land Act as no lease was ever signed by the legitimate landowners. The court also found the decision to grant the leases was in direct breach of Sections 11 and 102 and against natural justice as the proper landowners were never ascertained.
The court then went even further and said the whole circumstances of the case were so unsatisfactory, irregular and unlawful, the grant of the SABL leases was tantamount to fraud. Indeed, the judge said the there was “a clear indication or suggestion of dubious, reckless or corrupt dealings or actions by the Defendants” [The Departamnet of Lands and the Minister, Puka Temu]
The court quashed the decisions of the Department of Lands and the Minister to grant the SABL leases.
Prospective Solwara 1 seabed mining company Nautilus Minerals can be linked to the allegations of corruption surrounding a controversial decision by the Namibian government to allow seabed mining.
Namibia’s Fisheries Minister, Bernhard Esau, is crying foul over a government decision to allow phosphate mining on the seabed.
He says the decision to grant an environmental permit to Namibian Marine Phosphate was done behind closed doors and in defiance of an earlier government imposed ban. As Fisheries Minister, he says he was denied an opportunity to present his own proposal for a detailed 3-5 year environmental study before any approvals were granted.
MB Holdings is owned by Omani business man Mohammed Al Barwani.
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!
It is now 1,218 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 1,218 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.
BY: Cedric Patjole on PNG Loop
A recently published discussion paper by the Australian National University (ANU) argues that the most significant organised crime in the Pacific involves the connection between political elites and illicit actors.
The discussion paper featured in the Development Policy Blog states that the social and economic disruption caused by this relationship is more serious than other types of organised crime.
“This means organised crime in the Pacific is less about tatts, drugs and gangs, and more about networks of politicians, business elites and assorted intermediaries,” states the report.
Authors, Sinclair Dinnen and Grant Walton from the ANU argue that the most visible of this connection is in the logging sector in PNG and the Solomon Islands.
They claim both countries have a long history of illegal logging facilitated by an alliance between Asian logging companies and local political actors.
“This collusion has resulted in “the blurring of legal and illegal trade in relation to formal export-oriented log production.”
The paper states that law enforcement is weak due to systematic issues of governance and institutional capabilities and is vulnerable to organized crime as well as immunity to corrupt local actors.
It further says few of these agencies are equipped to deal with the complex and increasingly transnational character of organised crime.
“Despite some success, cooperation against organised criminal activities, particularly those with political dimensions, has largely failed to live up to the lofty sentiments of various regional agreements.”
The authors say policy makers will need to unravel the elite transnational networks which have been enabled and strengthened by economic globalisation.
This means focusing on transnational businesses elites, politicians, government officials and intermediaries.