Sir Pita calls for probe into group

National, Normal

The National, Monday July 22nd, 2013

 THE PNG Redress Association has called for a government-sanctioned investigation into the affairs of a Lae-based international association claiming to speak for Asia-Pacific war victims.

Association chief patron Sir Pita Lus and national director Kinock Kilik said in a statement that the PNG Redress International Association for Asia Pacific War Victims was a family-run unit by chairman Gabriel Laku and his sons Charles and Lemech.

Kilik, who authorised the release of the statement in Port Moresby last Friday, claimed that the father-and-son team would have collected more than K4m in more than 15 years from villagers who wanted compensation for war crimes committed against them during World War II.

“Representatives and agents of PNG Redress International Association for Asia Pacific War Victims have been collecting between K25 and K45 as registration fees from villagers in about 14 provinces. 

“Based on these figures, we are looking at between K3 million and K4 million,” Kilik said.

Kilik and Sir Pita said it was important that before the Lae-based association could be allowed to continue operating and sourcing registration fees from local victims of war, an authorised investigation must be carried out into its affairs and management structure and composition.

“Why is it that we have the father and his sons holding the positions of association chairman, deputy chairman and secretary? It is an association with a public membership and must be managed as such.

“It is not a trade store or a private business entity,” the statement said.

Charles Laku last Thursday had called on Prime Minister Peter O’Neill to address the war victims’ compensation issue.

Addressing a gathering at the Papuan Compound in Lae, Laku claimed the group had not been getting enough help domestically.

It had demanded K30 billion each in compensation from Japan, Australia and the United States for the damage caused, human rights abuses and the loss of lives during the war.

In response to newspaper queries, the Japanese embassy had said “there is no such arrangement for compensation payment”.

“There is something terribly wrong here and these people must be investigated,” Kilik said.