Warning on land scams


NATIONAL Research Institute (NRI) director Dr Charles Yala is calling on relevant stakeholders to stop promoting scams and schemes that promote land grabbing.
In a statement, Yala appealed to the Government and warned against the recent proposed amendments to the Land Act 1996 being mooted by the Minister for Lands and Physical Planning Benny Allen.
He said the amendments would see customary landowners deprived of their land through continued use of the SABLs (Special Agricultural Business Leases).
“The proposal to keep the terms of the current SABLs intact, and the idea of increasing the alienation of customary land to 20 per cent, constitutes land grabbing,” Yala said in the statement.
Yala’s comments come after a prosecutor at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, Netherlands, announced that people involved in land grabbing and environmental destruction could be tried for crimes against humanity.
The ICC prosecutor’s announcement implies that all people, including ministers, heads of departments and company directors and executives that are involved in land grabbing in PNG, could one day be charged for crimes against humanity. This was reported in a press release on Sept 15 by Global Witness.
The ICC is an international court that was established in 2002 to complement the activities of national courts of various countries.
It has the power to prosecute people for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.
Yala said that land grabbing remained a very serious issue in PNG, as highlighted in the Commission of Inquiry Report and the recent decisions by the Courts.
He also welcomed the Government’s decision to create the Office of Customary Land Development (OCLD) through NEC Decision 33/2016 and Gazette No. G392 of June 21.
He said the work of the Office of Customary Land Development was to stop land grabbing and allow the Voluntary Customary Land Registration (VCLR) systemto protect customary landowners.
Yala called on the Government to mainstream the Office of Customary Land Development.

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