Judge sits on illegal logging compensation claim for 4 years
A group of landholders from the Southern Highlands have been waiting for four years for a judge to decide on the amount of compensation they are owed by Rimbunan Hijau for illegally logging on 3,000 hectares of their land.
In 2008, the National Court ruled that logging by Rimbunan Hijau on land owned by the Sekusi-Sisapi people from Yanguli village was illegal, as the villagers had never given their consent to the operations.
In 2013, a further court hearing was held before Justice Ere Kariko to assess the amount of compensation owed by RH to the villagers for the environmental damage to their forests. Two Australian expert witness Tom ‘Diwai’ Vigus and Dr Ian Curtis, gave evidence on behalf of the landowners.
But the judge has completely failed to ever give his decision.
In the intervening years the landholders have written many time to the judge, to the Chief Justice and the courts administrators, calling for the judge to release his findings, but still they are waiting.
The landholders are now questioning why justice is being denied to them as simple, powerless and vulnerable grassroots people while the logging company, with its massive resources is allowed to further build and extend its huge empire in Port Moresby and beyond.
Obviously, when the courts cannot be relied upon to do their job it sends a strong signal to all overseas companies operating in PNG and to the logging industry in particular, that they are free to do whatever they like and they will never be punished.