16 May 2002

PNG Prime Minister agrees with Greenpeace that logging shipments illegal

9:32 am on 16 May 2002

The Papua New Guinea Prime Minister is hoping court action this Friday will end a multi million dollar logging operation in the remote Kiunga-Aiambak region.

Activists from the environmental organisation Greenpeace are currently stalling the shipment of logs from the region.

Since Sunday they been occupying a barge and log carrier at the mouth of the Fly River.

Sir Mekere Morauta says the project should never have been allowed to go ahead, because it failed to comply with the necessary legal requirements.

He says a court injunction granted to the logging company Concorde Pacific in 1999, stopped the PNG Forest Authority from removing its logging permit.

But that case is now to be heard at the end of this week.

Sir Mekere says he acknowledges the strong concerns of the local landowners, who he says have complained to the Government over the loss of their resource and damage to their local environment.

He also says relevant authorities will investigate claims of violence and other human rights abuses against land owners by people reportedly acting on behalf of other interest groups.

Greenpeace, which says it took the protest action on behalf of the land owners, says it will maintain its occupation of the logging ship until the issue reaches court.