30 Oct 2017

PNG landowners seek mediation over SABL

4:18 pm on 30 October 2017

Landowners in Pomio in Papua New Guinea's East New Britain hope the logging giant Rimbunan Hijau will agree to mediation to resolve a dispute over a controversial land lease.

Logging road, Pomio, East New Britain.

A road created by a SABL operation in Pomio, East New Britain. Photo: Global Witness

The landowners, with help from the Catholic Church in Rabaul, have initiated legal action over the SABL, or Special Agricultural Business Lease, it has with Rimbunan Hijau.

Archbishop Francesco Panfilo said in the first instance they hoped the company would agree to mediation in Pomio, rather than court action.

He said if the company came to Pomio it would meet and hear directly from the landowners.

"The people of RH would be obliged to listen to the people because as of now I think they get the impression that [they are] doing everything all right and there are some people disgruntled. We are convinced that the majority of the people want a renegotiation of the SABL."

Rabaul Archbishop Francesco Panfilo said the court was expected to make a decision on 11 November.

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