Use your payout wisely, says advocate

Normal, Papua

The National – Monday, July 4th 2011

 LANDOWNERS of Kiun­ga and Aiambak, who won K226.5 million after an eight-year court battle on claims against illegal logging and environmental destruction by a foreign company, have been urged to use the money to deve­lop their communities.

Representatives from Kuni, Pare, Zimaka and Yonhom tribes were told by an environmentalist to “use the money to bring tangible development 

and raise living standards in communities”.

Dorothy Tekwie, a Greenpeace advocate, urged the landowners to build better health and education facilities for their children.

“That money belongs to the people who have suffered as a result of environmental and other social impacts that happened as a result of logging in the area,” she said 

Tekwie and representatives from environmental groups and non-governmental organisations met two weeks ago to celebrate what was described as a landmark victory.

Justice Cathy Davani ruled on June 21 in favour of the landowners and the foreign company was ordered to pay K157,550,000 for the loss of trees and K60 million for trespassing.

Tekwie and Environmental Law Centre lawyer Annie Kajir said the decision was a positive sign for indigenous landowners and people involved in land campaigns.