The Criminalisation of Resistance: The Bougainville Mining Bill’s hidden teeth

New Mining Law to criminalize community opposition to mining…

arrest

When the Bougainville mine was imposed on communities by the Australian colonial administration it triggered prolonged battles of resistance by the land’s custodians. These battles continued as the colonial batten passed from the colonial authorities to the neocolonial authorities in Waigani. Now under the new Bougainville mining bill drafted by Adam Smith International, community resistance is a criminal offence punishable by imprisonment.

For example, when Conzinc Rio Tinto of Australia (CRA) first began marking out the mine, landowners removed the survey pegs placed on their land in violation of customary law. This act of removing the markers is now a criminal offence under the draft Mining Act.

'This Rorovana mother would now face imprisonment for protecting her land under the mining bill.

This Rorovana mother would now face imprisonment under the new Mining Act for protecting her land

Section 336, creatively entitled ‘injury to boundary marks’, states, ‘a person who breaks, defaces or removes, or in any other way interferes with any boundary mark erected for any of the purposes of this Act, without the necessary approval or authority under this Act is guilty of an offence. Penalty: A fine not exceeding K25,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding thirty (30) calendar days, or both’.

When CRA moved in its bulldozers, the mothers of Rorovana famously protected their land by blocking the company’s equipment. Under the draft bill this is a criminal offence punishable by imprisonment.

Section 334 states, ‘A person who – (a) unlawfully interferes with or obstructs any exploration, mining or other operations authorised by or under this Act, or (b) unlawfully interferes with any machinery, plant, road, work or property on, in, under or over any tenement or community mining licence area that is used in the exercise of a right conferred by or under this Act, is guilty of an offence. Penalty: A fine not exceeding K25,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding thirty (30) calendar days, or both’.

When the mine’s destructive effects became intolerable, the Panguna Landowners Association issued a compensation demand of K10 billion – when the company ignored their claim, they threatened to stage protests and implement road blocks. Under the drift mining bill such threats are now a criminal offence punishable by a substantial prison sentence.

Section 335 states, ‘A person who demands a payment from a tenement or community mining licence holder, other than a payment to which that person is entitled to receive under this Act, and who: (a) unlawfully interferes or threatens to interfere with or obstructs or threatens to obstruct any exploration, mining or other operations authorised by or under this Act unless the tenement or licence holder agrees to such payment, or (b) unlawfully interferes or threatens to interfere with any machinery, plant, road, work or property on, in, under or over any tenement that is used in the exercise of a right conferred by or under this Act unless the tenement or licence holder agrees to such payment, is guilty of an offence. Penalty: A fine not exceeding K100,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year, or both’.

So under the proposed mining bill the great folk heroes who resisted CRA exploration, defied the bulldozers and issued compensation demands for destruction of the environment, would now be criminalised, fined and thrown in prison. This should not come as any great surprise, Adam Smith International and the World Bank – the architects of this law – have shown many times they place the property ‘rights’ of foreign businesses over the human rights of indigenous populations.

4 Comments

Filed under Human rights, Papua New Guinea

4 responses to “The Criminalisation of Resistance: The Bougainville Mining Bill’s hidden teeth

  1. It is better to completely srape the Bougainville Mining Bill off the Bougainvilles Constitution especially that of Panguna Mine.The bill fully discriminate the indeginous landowners even the whole of Bougainville contradicting the customary land rights laws.On the other hand the negotiation of reopening of Panguna Mine should go back to square one where updates of land titles must be respected and reconciliations should also be entertained according to the customary rituals of Panguna.

  2. Pingback: Bougainville Mining Bill Condemned at Buka Forum | Papua New Guinea Mine Watch

  3. Pingback: President Momis left red faced over Jubilee attack | Papua New Guinea Mine Watch

  4. Pingback: PNG, Bougainville and Rio Tinto – recapping some forgotten facts | Papua New Guinea Mine Watch

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