Company Affirms Legitimacy Of Paga Hill Evictions In PNG

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UK ‘state crime’ group condemn forced relocation of residents

MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, Oct. 10, 2012) – The Paga Hill Development Company has insisted the forced relocation of a settlement in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea was legitimate.

The UK-based International State Crime Initiative recently released a report questioning the legitimacy of the company's land deal and condemning the eviction of the community, which was to make way for a multi-million dollar marina and hotel.

"It contravened the UN principles on development-based forced eviction," Chris Lasset, the Initiative's PNG coordinator told Radio Australia's Pacific Beat program.

Media reports at the time described how 100 police officers backed by bulldozers stormed the settlement on May 12, just as a national court was granting an injunction to stop the demolition.

"The police went down there, they were armed, they used their firearms, they aimed their guns and fired them at civilians who were unarmed. They bulldozed properties without allowing the owners to remove their personal possessions," Mr. Lasset said.

His report also questioned the Paga Hill Development Company's ability to follow through on a promise to resettle the community at the Six Mile settlement.

The company's director, George Hallit, also spoke to Pacific Beat, and insisted that the "legitimacy to our title is undisputed, it cannot be denied".

"We've been subject to no less then three judicial reviews, public accounts commission inquiry, an ombudsman commission investigation, each of which have exonerated us," he said.

He also said that in an "unprecedented move" land to relocate the Paga Hill residents had been secured at Six Mile, and said that each household would receive a block of 300 square meters.

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