Court Grants Landowners Access to Their Own Land

pomio logging Act Now PNG
Logging operations in West Pomio. Photograph by ActNow PNG.

Outspoken anti- SABL activists who are customary landowners in West Pomio can now move freely on their traditional land known as Portion 196C and 197C respectively.

This was after the District court in Kokopo dismissed 7 proceedings filed by the land owner companies and their directors against the landowners to prevent them access to their traditional land and resources on the named portions.

CELCOR acted on behalf of the landowners and local NGO partner Forcert Ltd. Principal Lawyer, Evelyn Wohuinangu, was in Kokopo, East New Britain province, with landowners from East and West Pomio and Melkoi, as well as local partner FORCERT Ltd, to receive the decision on the 19th of February.

“We are happy to have won the case for our clients who are from the forested communities of West Pomio, whose resources have been exploited through SABL. They are now able to move freely on the land that is rightly theirs and continue the SABL campaigns of ridding the logging giants,” said Evelyn Wohuinangu.

The seven proceedings were filed against Forcert Ltd and customary landowners, Norbert Pammes, Paul Pavol Palusalrea and Moses Sarere in September, 2015 seeking to permanently restrain them from entering land known as Portion 196C and 197C which are all under SABL arrangement. Allegations were made against Forcert Ltd and the customary landowners as causing havoc and disruption on the project site and division amongst the village communities within the project site which was seen as a risk to the smooth implementation of the Project.

The matter went to trial however the complainants/ informants were unable to provide substantial evidence either in fact or law linking the defendants to the allegations in the Complaint and Information filed against the defendants. The magistrate could not safely grant permanent restraining orders against the defendants hence, dismissed the two matters against Forcert Ltd and struck out the remaining 5 matters against the customary landowners.

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