Papua New Guinea’s proposed Independent Commission Against Corruption could end up being an ineffective and toothless organisation as a result of government changes to the draft ICAC bill [can be downloaded below].
Expert analysis shows the government has watered down the draft legislation to remove key powers from the proposed agency, despite claims to the contrary from the Prime Minister and Attorney General.
The appalling human rights abuses being suffered by the victims of the huge SABL land-grab in Papua New Guinea are the focus of a new report published by ACT NOW! and UK based charity, War on Want.
ACT NOW! is calling on the Minister for Lands, Justin Tkatchenko to name the Special Agriculture Business Leases he claims have been cancelled.
The Minister has stated on social media that of 53 Special Agriculture Business Leases reviewed, 34% have been cancelled via voluntary surrender, 2% cancelled via consent or court order and 12% have been referred for further verification.
The government’s announcement of a so-called ’interim ICAC’ is an insult to the nation and an abuse of the ICAC name.
An ICAC must be independent from government and free from any political interference, but, what the Prime Minister has announced, fundamentally fails both these tests.
More than 230 leaders and other clan members from the Ibab, Tring Wau, Kamasau and Murai villages in the Turubu and Sausso LLG areas of East Sepik say they are opposing any further and logging activities in their forests. They are petitioning all appropriate authorities to completely stop what they say is continuous illegal logging activity on their land.
Originally aired on EMTV's Olsem Wanem program, SPICES: The Forgotten Commodity is a short film on the potential of the spice industry in Papua New Guinea.
Although small now, the industry has the potential to earn the country more than K100 million a year. What it lacks though is any proper government support.
Despite this neglect, spices are a perfect example of how ordinary people can use their customary land for small and medium sized businesses that sustain their families and develop their communities.
Foreign owned logging companies could be defrauding the country of hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenues and ACT NOW! is calling for a moratorium on any further logging licences until there is a full and transparent investigation and the cancellation of all illegal SABL leases.
The government has tried to bury and forget the SABL land grab scandal in which more than 5 million hectares of land has been stolen from rural communities.
It is using a well tested formula that we see employed almost every time a new corruption scandal is exposed:
First a long-drawn out official inquiry that is delayed by funding and other logistical problems.
Then a further delay before the inquiry findings are tabled in Parliament.
Fraudulent SABLs that the government has failed to cancel despite the recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry are still causing conflict and injustice - see stories below.
This is what the Commission of Inquiry said about the SABL over Portions 2465C and 2466C.
“There was misrepresentation and fraud involved in the whole process” [Report p164]
Landowner signatures were forged in “a criminal act” [p150].