Lands Minister Benny Allen is blocking the implementation of government decisions to end the SABL land grab and return stolen land to its customary owners.
Since 2013, Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has repeatedly promised the unlawful SABL leases will be cancelled, and in June 2014 the National Executive Council endorsed the recommendation from the Commission of Inquiry that the leases be revoked.
The Minister for Lands has re-stated his plan to convert unlawful SABL leases to another form of land tenure using Incorporated Land Groups. The Minister was speaking in response to a 10,000 signature petition calling for the cancelation of the unlawful SABL leases.
A 10,000 signature petition is today being presented to the government calling for action on the SABL land grab.
The petition is being presented by Paul Pavol, who was last year awarded the international Alexander Soros Foundation Award, in recognition of his communities efforts to oppose four unlawful SABL leases over their land.
Pomio MP Elias Kapavore has defended an illegal land grab in his electorate in which four SABL leases have been granted to logging company Rimbunan Hijau. Kapavore claims the company has built roads, provided jobs and made ‘a massive economic investment’ in oil palm. He says the company should remain and local people should stop voicing their complaints and exaggerating the negative impacts.
Police officers working on behalf of Malaysian logging giant Rimbunan Hijau are continuing to intimidate, attack and detain landholders trying to protect their land against illegal logging in the Pomio District of East New Britain, according to reports from the area.
This is despite an order from Police Commissioner Gari Baki that police should not be permanently deployed to logging camps.