PNG government amends Environment Act [search] with no debate to remove powers from landowners to challenge in court resource development projects on their customary land. Move reflects increased pressure by foreign developers, particularly Chinese government's mining agency, whose efforts to dump uncapped 100 million tons of mine waste on ocean floor in Madang Province has been thwarted by pressure exerted by successful legal efforts and campaigning.
(Madang, PNG) – Indigenous landowners have been stripped of ancestral and constitutionally-protected land rights [search] by the government of Papua New Guinea (PNG). The fact that 97% of land has been under communal, customary land tenure has long been a source of pride, provided an important social safety net, and protected against resource corruption. Similar efforts pushed by the World Bank in the 1990s were met with national protests and over-turned. Ultimate power to irrevocably issue resource development environmental permits will now reside with the Department of Environment secretary, an office who's current and past occupants have long been known for flagrant corruption.
The government, through the Environment Minister, Benny Allan, made changes to sections of the Environment Act 2000 to prevent landowners and concerned Papua New Guineans from "interfering" with industrial resource development projects destroying oceans and rainforests -; like the Chinese Ramu Nickel Mine in Madang and Exxon-Mobil Liquid Natural Gas project in the Southern Highlands. Without any warning or consultation, on May 27, 2010, the government of PNG introduced emergency legislation that dissolved the Constitutional rights of all landowners in PNG, including the right of Indigenous People to own land, challenge resource projects in court and receive any compensation for environmental damage. The bill was passed without being seen or debated by parliamentarians.