SABL Response to UN Due In Seven Days

Source: FRANKLIN KOLMA / Post Courier

THE PNG government now has one week left to give a response to the United Nation’s third letter of concern on the issue of ill-treated SABL – special agriculture business lease.

Late last year, on December 18, a letter from the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination was sent to the PNG government asking for a response to concerns about what is being done to address issues detailed in an earlier study.

When contacted yesterday to comment on the pending SABL response, the United Nations resident coordinator for Papua New Guinea Gianluca Rampolla said that the UN was anticipating a response from the government and was willing to work with it to address the issues relating to SABL maltreatment.

“The UN stands ready to support the government of Papua New Guinea in constructive dialogue with the UN human rights mechanisms on the progress it has made towards fulfilling its international human rights obligations.

“This includes responding to, and addressing, concerns raised by the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination on special agriculture business leases and its impact on indigenous landowners,” said Mr Rampolla.

In the letter that was sent last year, the respective UN committee chair Noureddine Amir asked the PNG government yet again, to respond to concerns that PNG continues to authorise the exploitation of indigenous land by foreign companies through SABLs.

The letter briefly delved into the UN committee’s concerns on SABLs being used to allegedly mediate logging and large-scale plantation endeavours and detailed instances of possible maltreatment as a result of SABLs.

Also included in the correspondence of concern, was a request for information on the measures the PNG government was taking or would take to implement the recommendations contained in the previous letters the Committee sent in 2011 and 2017 respectively.

Letters that the latest correspondence deemed unanswered to date.

Although SABLs were declared to be cancelled in 2016 by Prime Minister Peter O’Neill following a lengthy Commission of Inquiry, subsequent re-utterances of the vilified agreement in Parliament and by affected communities have led to the resurfacing of the issue.