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Monday, 12 February

10:31

Disgraced judge Bernard Sakora resigns in latest move to avoid justice PNGexposed Blog

Disgraced Judge, Justice Sakora, has resigned to avoid facing court

Having seemingly already wriggled out of one corruption charge in the criminal courts, Justice Sakora has now resigned as a Judge [see story below] in order to close down formal misconduct investigations against him, by the Judicial and Legal Services Commission, and a separate Leadership Code Tribunal, instigated by the Ombudsman Commission.

Sakoras criminal charge was in relation to his role in preventing the publication of the findings of the Commission of Inquiry into the Department of Finance which first revealed the role of Paul Paraka and his law firm in scamming millions of kina from the government. It is alleged Sakora received K100,000 from Paraka in return for granting the injunction. 

During the Finance Inquiry hearings, Sakora also granted an injunction to M...

06:00

Book Review Large-Scale Mines and Local-Level Politics: Between New Caledonia and Papua New Guinea Devpolicy Blog from the Development Policy Centre

New Caledonia (NC) and Papua New Guinea (PNG) are both Melanesian countries which not only share geographical and cultural similarities, but whose economies are highly dependent on extractive industries. Due to differing colonial trajectories, research on these two countries has mostly been carved up among the Anglophone and Francophone academies. In Large-Scale Mines and Local-Level Politics, Colin Filer and Pierre-Yves Le Meur succeed in bridging this scholarly divide. In a series of essays, this open access volume examines whether the relationship between large-scale mines and local-level politics is similar due to a distinctively Melanesian way of menacing the mining industry, the varied ways in which mining companies engage with local communities, or other differences between the two countries.

Some aspects of the relationship can be explained by the roles and powers of the state, the differing colonial trajectories, and the legal and policy frameworks of these two countries. Whereas New Caledonia is engaged with France in a process of negotiated decolonisation through the Noumea Accord [French], the independent state of PNG seems to resemble more of a naked emperor or paper tiger (p.34). While French colonisers created tribal reserves which alienated Kanak peoples from their land, over 90% of PNG land remains held through customary land tenure. So, when the state now seeks to acquire land to develop a mine, local politics in PNG is dominated by a fierce ideology of landownership which individuals deploy to stake claims in PNGs complex array of business spin-offs, compensation, benefit-sharing, and development agreements. In contrast, because New Caledonia generally excludes customary claims to public land where mining activities mainly take place, and their mines benefit streams lack PNGs complexities, local politics tends to instead emphasise the pursuit of a Kanak national identity and political representation.

...

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Saturday, 10 February

07:26

UN calls out PNG over litany of abuses Act Now! blogs

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, right, meets PM Peter O'Neill Source: OHCHR

UN High Commissioner highlights key issues including corruption, the SABL land grab and human rights abuses in the extractive industries. Read his full statement here.

SOURCE : Stefan Armbruster, SBS

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Raad Al Hussein has called on Papua New Guinea to tackle a long list of abuses in the country.

Praising PNGs welcomed openness after inviting him for a one-day visit, the high commissioner issued a to-do list and emphasised the eyes of the world would be on the country during the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting in November.

After meeting with prime minister Peter ONeill, Mr Zeid said PNG needed to tackle corruption, strengthen the rule of law and hold business accountable for human rights abuses. He also raised the issues of refugees on Manus, resource industry land leases, and associated police brutality, gender-based violence and sorcery.

Papua New Guinea appears to be a country of contradictions. There are exemplary laws and policies in place to protect human rights, but they are reportedly often not enforced, he said.

It is a resource-rich country, but much of its population lives in abject poverty, with acute malnutrition rates in some areas comparable to Yemen and minimal access to quality healthcare and education.

It has strong civil society activists but there is little room for them to influence Government policy.

'Committed' to Human Rights Commission

In a statement issued before the High Commissioners visit, Mr ONeills office thanked him for visiting PNG for the first time.

The observations of the High Commissioner are comforting as this government has made a concerted effort to engage with all stakeholders, particularly civil society, Mr ONeills statement said.

Our Government is committed to establishing a Human Rights Commission in our country. We are working through the details required to establish this important office and look to making an announcement soon before the matter is put to Parliament for discussion.

As our country continues to advance, we will still experience the same human rights issues that are experienced by countries around the world.

Reported actions 'shameful'

The creation of National Human Rights Track Court and a planned independ...

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Friday, 09 February

09:07

O'NEILL CAUGHT OUT TELLING LIES - OKTEDI MINE. PNGBLOGS

by BRYAN KRAMER MP

Prime Minister Peter O'Neill was caught lying and misleading Parliament during question time when it resumed its first session in 2018 on Tuesday.

O'Neill was responding to a question raised by the Governor of Western Province, Toboi Yoto asking when his people would benefit from Oktedi Mine and when they would receive the share certificates.

Western Governor explained that since the O'Neill Government took over the mine in September 2013 it had failed to transfer the share certificates representing 33% interest in the mine to the Western Province people. Further, still, they had yet to receive their dividends.

In response, O'Neill claimed when his Government took over the mine from BHP, who at the time wanted to shut down the mine for not being profitable. He said the Government inherited a loss-making machine.

He confirmed his Government has yet to transfer 33% interest to the landowners, claiming it was because of stamp duties issue.

Member for Moresby North-West Sir Mekere Mortaua interjected with a point of order. Mekere a former PNG Sustainable Chairman told O'Neill to stop his incurable lies [about the mine]. There was never any plans to shut down the mine it was not making any loss but investing in further explorations, Sir Mereke said.

O'Neil responded telling Mekere that he was only trying to protect his legacy of providing immunity (protection) to BHP, the mines former developer who destroyed the lives and livelihood of the people through environmental damage.

"It was loss-making machine when we took it over but we had to restructure the mine during the drought and paid off all the employees making a profit," he said (source post courier article - https://postcourier.com.pg/ok-tedi-issue-heats/)

It was at this point I then interjected asking the Speaker to advise the Prime Minister to stop lying and misleading parliament. As I had in front of me 2012 OkTedi Financial Report confirming the mine was, in fact, making a profit.

O'Neill responded I was a busybody from Madang on social media.

So was O'Neill lying when he claimed the Oktedi Mine was a loss-making machine before he took over it?

O'Neill took over the mine in 2013, so let's review the mine's profits four years before and four years after from when he took over it.

In 2009 net profit K1.5 Billion
In 201...

06:00

Parliamentary aid oversight: time for a new approach Devpolicy Blog from the Development Policy Centre

At the end of 2013, the Foreign Affairs Subcommittee of the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade (JSCFADT) was renamed the Foreign Affairs and Aid Subcommittee.

It was a welcome development. Earlier in 2013, we had written a policy brief calling for a parliamentary subcommittee focusing on Australias aid program. The benefits of a parliamentary aid committee were also raised in the 2011 Independent Review of Aid Effectiveness. ACFID had also called for the formation of an aid subcommittee, as did an independent task force convened by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute and the Foundation for Development Cooperation in 2011. In a 2012 blog post for Devpolicy, John Eyers had suggested that establishing an aid and development subcommittee under the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade would improve the attention given to the aid program in Senate Estimates, which tends to be dominated by the most topical issues. The 2013 review of aid to Afghanistan had also recommended a parliamentary committee be established.

What has happened since the Foreign Affairs and Aid Subcommittee was created at the end of 2013? Has it enabled effective parliamentary oversight of the aid program? Or is it a case of being careful of what you wish for?

The JSCFADT Foreign Affairs and Aid Subcommittee has completed two aid inquiries since its establishment. The main one, titled Partnering for the greater good: the role of the private sector in promoting economic growth and reducing poverty in the Indo-Pacific region, was released in June 2015. The report ran to 282 pages, and ended with 37 recommendations.

This private sector inquiry, the Committees main effort to date, should have been a success. It was commissioned by the Foreign Minister in February 2014, not long after the elections, during a period of policy development in rel...

Thursday, 08 February

11:23

Minister should listen to the people on ESM Act Now! blogs

By Lester Seri - Collingwood Bay landowner and Environment Advocate

Our Minister for Mining has made known his support for experimental seabed mining, but he has not given any rational justification for his endorsement of Nautilus Minerals and Solwara 1, especially when there is so much uncertainty and questions being asked about Papua New Guinea being used as a guinea pig. 

There are international scientists highlighting likely serious biological / ecological problems that could come about, as there has never been any such seabed mining done before anywhere in the world. Surely, anybody in a responsible position as an elected member of Parliament entrusted with the duty to represent the interest / concerns of his or her electorate and the country, is supposed to, in the midst of citizens concern, take time, assess and evaluate the issues / concerns before taking a decision. Minister Tuke has failed miserably in this regard!

Many people have already raised serious doubts and concerns, but neither the Minister nor the Government have come forward to give an honest and truthful answer to the people. Instead they have made a unilateral decision without taking time to answer or respond to the people's queries. The Minister has taken a dictatorial stand defying the peoples concerns.

The Minister says he is only going by the Government's decision to approve the mining permit but does not give any serious scientific or economic rational for why Solwara 1 has been granted the mining license.

The minister is concerned there have been no new mines been opened recently, and says that he is pursuing the Governments policy to get new mines on stream and operational. This is common government bullshit all over the world. 

The question that needs answering (and as citizens we want to know) is, what is the economic rationale and benefits that will accrue to the people and the country now and into the future. I mean how much difference (benefit) in terms of actual money and human development will Solwara 1 effectively contribute to the the country? 

We need some indication of the volume and quantity of minerals and value, and the likely benefits that we will be gaining from this mining project.  These benefits, whatever they may be, ought to be spelt out, clearly articulated, so we are not only clear but assured of what we are likely to gain. 

Just because the Minister or Prime Minister and their members are elected MPs  does not necessary mean that they are always right in their judgment, and that we will surely gain as they claim. This uncertainty arises from the government failure in giving its citizens the actua...

06:00

Identity fraud in Papua New Guinea Devpolicy Blog from the Development Policy Centre

In September 2017, Papua New Guineas Supreme Court rejected an appeal by PNGs biggest logging company, Rimbunan Hijau (RH), against an earlier decision of the National Court to award damages to the representatives of a landowning clan who claimed that the company had failed to identify them as the true landowners of an access road and log pond in the Central Province. Two months later, a post to the PNG Mine Watch blog quoted two paragraphs from the Supreme Court judgment in which this was said to be but one example of a sad story that is repeated throughout the country over a long period of time from the colonial administration in the name of opening up wild frontiers for various so-called developments and projects. The nub of the judicial argument was that the government and developers had persistently failed in their duty to establish the identity of the true landowners, organise them into incorporated land groups (ILGs), and then make agreements with these legal entities that would constitute evidence of free, prior and informed consent, and hence grant the developers a social licence to operate.

RH might have wondered how this argument applied to an agreement they had made with the wrong landowners back in 1988, four years before the passage of a new Forestry Act that required a process of land group incorporation to be undertaken by officials of the National Forest Service prior to the grant of a new logging concession. But what excited the bloggers was the thought that the oil and gas industry was now tarred with the same judicial brush as the logging industry. And what excited them even more was the cross-reference that one of the three judges, Justice Ambeng Kandakasi, made to a couple of his own previous judgments in the National Court, in which he said he had correctly described the delinquent government officials and company executives as fraudsters and thieves.

The first of these judgments related to a case in which a local landowner accused the government and the developer of trying to negotiate a benefit-sharing agreement for the prospective Pnyang gas field in Western Province without having undertaken the full-scale social mapping and landowner identification study required by the Oil and Gas Act. The second related to a rather different case, in which one landowner from Hela Province charged another local landowner and a group of government officials with failing to abide by an order for the parties to undergo a process of mediation to resolve an argument about the status...

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