United Nations calls for action on SABL land grab
15 May 2016
THE Papua New Guinea government needs to urgently take action on the SABL land grab and increase scrutiny of the logging industry was the message from the international community during a review of human rights in PNG by the United Nations in Geneva.
Countries from Central and South America, Asia and Europe all spoke of the need for the PNG government to do more to better protect the rights of customary landowners.
Chile recommended PNG strengthen the work of the SABL (special agriculture & business lease) commission of inquiry that exposed the irregularities in almost all the leases investigated and recommended they be revoked.
Thailand noted the steps taken to address the SABL scheme, especially the Commission of Inquiry, but said PNG still needs to address the negative impact on human rights and ensure an equitable and sustainable solution.
Norway stated illegal logging and land grabbing in PNG represent a challenge both to the environment and customary land rights. It recommended the government take measures to prevent land grabbing and illegal logging and ensure that future actions are based on a respect for fundamental human rights and environmental protection.
Guatemala noted PNG has still to implement its promise from 2011 to increase vigilance over the mining and logging industries to mitigate their adverse effects on human rights. Guatemala recommended PNG do more to establish stringent and transparent control measures.
Mexico spoke on the issue of informed consent from customary landowners, a key issue in the SABL land grab, and recommended PNG take further steps to ensure full respect for the human rights of its people.
The issue of violence by police against customary landowners and police acting on behalf of logging companies was also raised in the meeting.
Switzerland recommended PNG investigate impartially and independently, all allegations of excessive use of force and violations by the police, particularly in cases related to community land rights, and to bring the perpetrators of these violations to justice.
Malaysia also called on PNG to give more attention to the rights of indigenous people and ensure accountability of law enforcement officials who commit human rights violations and criminal offences.
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