ANZ attacked over Papua New Guinea logging ‘links’

LoggingAustralian human rights and environmental groups have filed a complaint against ANZ for dealing with the Malaysian logging company, Rimbunan Hijau, which is accused of rights abuses and environmental destruction in Papua New Guinea.

The five groups, including the Human Rights Council of Australia and the Australian Conservation Foundation, allege the bank is “actively facilitating and supporting” [link to pdf file] Rimbunan Hijau’s PNG operations.

In their complaint, the groups say Rimbunan Hijau is guilty of “serious human rights abuses, environmentally devastating logging practices and repeated, serious illegal conduct”.

The Environmental Law Centre in PNG, which is also party to the complaint, said compliance with basic human rights and environmental standards should be a strict condition of doing business with a reputable bank like ANZ.

The Eco Forestry Forum describes how Papua New Guinea’s rainforest is being destroyed by Malaysian logging companies. It is the largest intact rainforest in the Asia/Pacific region – big enough to cover New Zealand. These forest is home to the majority of the 5 million people in Papua New Guinea. It contains over 15,000 plant species. Up to 45% of the forest is accessible for logging and about 60% of this has already been consumed. Another 25% is facing the immediate threat of logging.

A recent government review, funded by the World Bank, found that all major logging permits and extensions granted in 2002 were totally illegal and that the logging companies are ‘roaming the countryside like robber barons, encouraged by persons whose proper role is to exercise control’.

A 2001 television documentary on logging companies in Papua New Guinea in contained video testimonies of people being forced to sign agreements under duress including at gunpoint and threats of imprisonment and even death. It also described torture, physical abuse and unlawful detention of local people by police officers ’employed’ by the logging company and rape of female employees by logging company managers .

(thanks to Pikaluk for the photo)


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