No informed consent from customary owners

Customary landowners have not given their informed consent to the SABL leases or the logging on their land.

This was one of the primary findings of the SABL Commission of Inquiry and has been confirmed in a number of court cases.

In Papua New Guinea virtually all land is owned by local people. This 'customary ownership' is recognised and protected in the constitution.

According to the law, any lease or other use of customary land can only happen if all the customary landowners give their free, prior informed consent.

This is how Justice Canning has explained the issue [Mahuru v Dekena, 2013]

"To lawfully grant a Special Agricultural and Business Lease over customary land the Minister must comply with all of the requirements of Sections 10, 11 and 102”.

“The elaborate procedures in Sections 10, 11 and 102 of the Land Act have been inserted for a reason: to ensure that leases over customary land are granted only after a thorough identification and investigation of the land and the customary landowners and their agreement to what is proposed. In PNG land is a critical natural resource required by National Goal Number 4 to be conserved and used for the benefit of the present generation and for the benefit of future generations”

“Decisions about the transfer of interests in customary land must be made carefully and thoughtfully and in strict accordance with procedures prescribed by law."