The government’s human rights record and its failure to protect the interests of customary landowners is under the spotlight in Switzerland this week.
Community advocacy group ACT NOW! is in Geneva briefing diplomats at the United Nations on the SABL land grab, illegal logging and experimental seabed mining.
“The PNG government must appear before the United Nations Human Rights Council in May as part of a process called a Universal Periodic Review (UPR)” explains Eddie Tanago, Campaign Coordinator with ACT NOW!
“The United Nations will be looking at our government’s human rights record so we are here in Geneva to make sure the international community is fully briefed on issues affecting people in PNG and particularly customary landowners.”
PNG last appeared before the Human Rights Council in 2011. Since then, says ACT NOW!, the government has failed to implement its promises to protect the rights and interests of local people.
“The SABL land grab has been used to steal more than 5 million hectares of land from rural people while illegal logging devastates their forests and causes widespread environmental damage” says Eddie Tanago. “This directly contradicts promises the government made in 2011.”
“To make matters even worse, experimental seabed mining is being rushed into without proper consultation with coastal people or any attempt to get their informed consent. The government doesn’t even understand the full environmental impacts the mining will have”.
ACT NOW! says there is a lot of interest among the international community in what is happening in PNG. “We are having a lot of meetings and believe the Human Rights Council will be well informed and ready to ask some hard questions of the PNG government in May”, says Mr. Tanago.