Yala calls for stop in land grabbing

The country’s think-tank, National Research Institute Director Dr Charles Yala is calling on relevant stakeholders to stay away from promoting scams and schemes that promote land grabbing.

Dr Yala also extended the call 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 Allan.

He said the amendment will see certain segments of the Lands Department whose actions will see customary landowners deprived of their land through continued use of the SABL leases.

Dr Yala added that the proposal to keep the terms of the current SABLs intact, and the idea of increasing the alienation of customary land to 20 percent, constitutes land grabbing.

“Following the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, Netherlands, Prosecutor’s announcement, this could potentially be considered a crime against humanity,” he said.

He said political leaders, Heads of Departments, Company directors and executives and community leaders engaged in such activity may be held responsible under international law for the crimes they have committed.

“Land grabbing has remained a very serious issue in PNG, as highlighted in the Commission of Inquiry Report and the recent decisions by the Courts.

“The work of the Office of Customary Land Development (OCLD is to stop it and allow the Voluntary Customary Land Registration (VCLR) system to protect customary landowners.

“Government agencies in charge of land related issues should support the OCLD in order to move PNG forward.

“In this respect, the current government has done the right thing by establishing the OCLD.”

He called on the government to mainstream the OCLD, and empower the customary landowners of PNG to be landlords in their own country.

Freddy Mou