Prime Minister’s Stance Angers Resource Owners
The Resource Owners Federation of Papua New Guinea is distressed by the Prime Minister’s promise to Investors not to change Mineral and Petroleum ownership laws in this country that has kept this rich nation poor for so long. He is yet another Prime Minister who will go down in history along with his predecessors who are to be held responsible for giving into in to the scare mongering tactics of the foreign investors to keep laws that steal resources owned by the traditional landowners in this country, contrary to the Customary laws of this land, the Constitution of the country and Article26 among others of the United Nations Declaration on the rights of the Indigenous peoples of the world.
Ownership of Minerals by private landowners is a common practice in many states of the United States of America and Europe today. Such was the practice in our country before the arrival of the colonial government which enacted the current laws to steal mineral ownership rights from the traditional owners. The result has been that much of our resources have been exploited for the benefit of the foreign companies and their shareholders. The landowners have been left with nothing except with huge holes in the ground. These mineral resources should have been used to propel the landowners and citizens from their Stone Age civilisation to the modern day civilisation over the life of any project. Instead many have been subjected to human rights abuse, and rendered to living in squatter settlements with no education, health, electricity, water supply and other basic human needs. This is shameful, inhumane, unethical, immoral and illegal in the modern world today.
The Federation call on the Prime Minister to now explain to the Citizens of this country on his obligation as leader of the nation to:
- Appease the growing dissatisfaction amongst landowners and citizens on the imbalances in the benefit sharing arrangements, in mineral and petroleum projects.
- Show the United Nations and the peoples of the world that Papua New Guinea is meeting its obligation to the United Nations in respect of Article 26. The Papua New Guinea Government which is a member of the United Nations is obligated by virtue of that membership to; Acknowledge the UN deceleration that, Indigenous peoples have suffered from historic injustices as a result of, inter alia, their colonization and dispossession of their lands, territories and resources, thus preventing them from exercising, in particular, their right to development, in accordance with their own needs and interests.
- Indigenous peoples have a right to the lands, territories and resources which they have traditionally owned, occupied or otherwise used or acquired.
- Indigenous peoples have the right to own, use, develop and control the lands, territories and resources they possess by reason of traditional ownership or other occupation or use, as well as those they have otherwise acquired.
- States shall give legal recognition and protection to these lands, territories and resources. Such recognition shall be conducted with due respect to the customs, traditions and land tenure systems of the indigenous peoples concerned.
The Prime Minister’s announcement that he intendeds to keep laws that steal the property rights of his people, indirect contravention of the Customary laws of Papua New Guinea, the Constitution of Papua New Guinea and now International law, is a serious mistake he must now correct.