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An Open Letter about Scientific Credibility and the Conservation of Tropical Forests


Judge finds logging company threatened newspaper

By PNG correspondent Liam Fox

A judge in Papua New Guinea has slammed a Malaysian logging giant for using the courts to threaten and harass a local newspaper.

In 2006 logging giant Rimbunan Hijau (RH) filed a defamation suit against the Post Courier after it re-printed an article from the Australian newspaper titled The rape of PNG forests.

Several other motions followed, but yesterday Judge Ambeng Kandakasi dismissed them all, saying they were an abuse of the court process. He said it was clear RH had used the proceedings to threaten, intimidate and harass the newspaper and force it into unnecessary expenses.

The judge said RH had used the court to "prevent and distract" the Post Courier from reporting on its conduct in the forestry industry.

He also ordered one of RH's lawyers, Michael Wilson, be investigated for perjury after filing conflicting affidavits. Mr Wilson denies committing perjury.

RH has been unavailable for comment. It owns PNG's other daily newspaper, The National, that has not reported the result.



Oct 2008 - Supreme Court rules RH logging rights illegal


Terror-razing the forest - Report of preliminary investigation into the security issues on the West Papua/ PNG border. (Adobe PDF - 5.5 mb)
Stickers for sale - Email RH Watch and order our Boycott Rimbunan Hijau watch stickers



PNG PM praises SBS passport seizure November 2, 2004 - 6:54PM

Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare says he is glad an Australian journalist had her passport seized by PNG authorities last week.

SBS Television reporter Bronwyn Adcock had been compiling a report on logging activities for the Dateline program when authorities seized her passport on Friday.

Somare, a former journalist himself, said he was tired of foreign journalists going to PNG and making trouble. He made the comments during a brief sitting of parliament on Tuesday.

PNG police questioned Adcock briefly after she had travelled to the Western province to investigate alleged corruption in the PNG logging industry. Officials confiscated her passport when she went to the airport later on Friday. After two days of negotiations involving SBS and the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs, Adcock's passport was returned on Sunday and she left the country. "We have allowed so many of these so-called journalists into the country to go around making trouble," Somare said. "I'm very glad when they are stopped from photographing or filming or doing anything in this country."

PNG's forestry industry has been accused of allowing illegal logging to continue despite serious environmental consequences. The chairman of PNG's Eco-Forestry Forum, Kenn Mondiai, said PNG's forests were being destroyed and many logging companies were operating illegally.

Last year, PNG's Independent Review of Forest Allocations found illegal logging permits had been issued by the National Forest Authority and many logging operations were running contrary to the PNG Forestry Act. Opposition MP Jamie Maxtone-Grahame said Adcock's detention was an example of political leaders using police in unconstitutional ways to achieve political ends. "We need to establish where the constitutional duties of the police lie and the limits of political authority over the police," he said.

Parliament was adjourned until Wednesday morning. There is speculation Somare's coalition government will face a vote of no confidence in coming weeks.

Adcock's report will air in Australia on Wednesday night.


Media Release

PNG Eco-Forestry Forum October 7th 2004

Forum extremely concerned by increasing attacks on NGO members

The PNG Eco-Forestry Forum is extremely concerned about the rising level of attacks on NGO workers who campaign against illegal and unsustainable logging. In the latest incident, last Friday evening, a senior NGO leader was shot and is currently receiving treatment in Port Moresby General Hospital.

“NGOs are working for peace and advocate for the human rights of all. They have made a huge contribution to the development of our nation. Yet we have seen an alarming increase in the frequency and seriousness of attacks in the past 12 months” said a spokesperson for the Forum.

Reported incidents include abductions and the false imprisonment of staff, personal abuse and threats, vehicle and property thefts, criminal damage and in one incident the wheel nuts on a car were loosened causing a potentially fatal incident.

“It is too much of a coincidence to attribute all these attacks to random acts of violence. A pattern has emerged where recent victims have been individuals and groups who are at the forefront of the campaign to stop illegal and unsustainable logging and in some of these cases there are clear links to logging interests”.

Inflicting violence on opponents of illegal and bad logging practices in PNG is not a new phenomenon. Justice Barnett who headed the Commission of Inquiry into the logging industry in PNG was stabbed and there have been several suspicious fire bombings of Forestry offices over the years. More recently community members in remote villages have also been targeted. “There are many documented cases of logging companies taking unlawful and violent action against local landowners and even their own employees who protest about logging companies practices” says the Forum.

The Forum is also concerned about the failure of the police to act on the many reported cases of human rights abuses where logging companies are alleged to have been involved. “It is unfortunate that there appears to be a high level of connivance between senior police and the logging companies” says the Forum.

“While we acknowledge that law and order problems exist in our society, it is shear cowardice for those who profit from the destruction of our forests to exploit the current situation by attempting to silent valid and legitimate criticism. These foreign ‘robber barons’ should not be allowed to terrorise civil society. The rule of law and democracy are fundamental to genuine development and they are key indicators of a successful nation”.

PNG Eco-Forestry Forum October 7th 2004

The Papua New Guinea Eco-Forestry Forum supports integrated rural community development and sustainable resource use through a viable and sustainable eco-forestry industry

Tel: 323 9050 Fax: 325 4610 Email: teff@global.net.pg Website: www.ecoforestry.org.pg

World's largest forest destroyer takes on environmentalists

16 September 2004

Amsterdam/ Sydney, - Greenpeace has received a letter from the lawyers of one of the world's largest and richest retailers in forest destruction, Rimbunan Hijau (RH). The Malaysian multinational logging firm with operations in eight countries has threatened to sue Greenpeace International over a report that highlights the company's destructive record.

The letter demands an apology for the publication of the report "The Untouchables - Rimbunan Hijau's World of Forest Crime and Political Patronage". RH has also demanded that Greenpeace withdraw the report from the public domain, and to supply them with a list of the recipients. Greenpeace International has declined to comply with this demand.

"RH is hoping that the threat of litigation will silence its critics. But Greenpeace won't back down, nor will we retract any allegations we have made. We're confident our report will hold up in court," said Jasper Teulings, Greenpeace International's Senior Legal Counsel.

Meanwhile in New Zealand, RH's local subsidiary, The LumberBank has taken the Timber Importers Association (NZTIA) to court over an unprecedented expulsion. RH is claiming damages and reinstatement after it was ousted from the NZTIA in May on the basis that its logging operations did not meet the NZTIA's code of practice.

"By threatening Greenpeace International in the Netherlands and the TIA in New Zealand, RH thinks it can bury the damming evidence that has been stacked against it," said Danny Kennedy, Greenpeace Australia Pacific Campaigns Manager. "Until RH seriously changes the way it operates in countries such as PNG, Greenpeace will continue to expose the logging giant for the forest crimes they commit."

In February of this year, Greenpeace published "The Untouchables." a report that highlights the corrupt and destructive activities of the Malaysian firm. RH dominates the logging industry in Papua New Guinea and has interests in Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Malaysia, Vanuatu, Indonesia, New Zealand and Russia, making it one of the world's largest forest destroyers. Many of these operations are characterised by documented illegalities and environmental destruction. It is alleged that RH uses tactics such as political corruption and abuses of human rights within its operations.

To view "The Untouchables" report go to www.greenpeace.org/RHreport

For more information, please contact: Jessa Latona, Media Officer in Sydney, + 61 2 9263 0314

Danny Kennedy, Greenpeace Campaigns Manager in Sydney, +61 408 754 910

Gina Sanchez, Greenpeace Media Officer in the Netherlands, +31 6 2700 0064

Jasper Teulings, Greenpeace International Senior Legal Counsel in the Netherlands, +31 6 2000 5229


Tuesday 07th September, 2004 Courier Post

'Throw them out' - Timber expert

THE Government should confiscate the machines of "unscrupulous Malaysian loggers and throw them out" of the country, says Malaysian timber expert Dr Freezailah bin Che Yeom.

The former International Tropical Timber Organisation executive director was speaking at the International Asia Forestry Partnership Conference in Indonesia last week. "If they (Malaysian logging companies) don't comply with the legislation and regulations, it is entirely up to the Papua New Guinea government to deal with them."If it means confiscating their machines, do so, or throw them out" said Dr Che Yeom in response to PNG Eco-Forestry Forum chairman Kenn Mondiai who presented the damning findings of the inter-agency forestry review team after investigating 15 logging projects nationwide. "Malaysia as a country cannot be blamed for all the problems of poor logging and illegal logging related activities in other countries. "It is the responsibility of the respective countries where Malaysian companies operate to take action within the confines of their local laws," Dr Che Yeom said The review allegedly uncovered widespread abuses in the logging industry with unlawful permits and illegal logging, gross environmental damage, labour abuses and a total lack of government enforcement of laws and regulations.

The Asia Forestry Partnership is an open voluntary forum where key players in the region from government, the private sector and NGOs share ideas to coordinate and develop collective actions plans to address issues confronting the region and the global forestry sector. Over 150 participants from countries within in the region as well as Africa (Congo Basin), Russia, USA and the United Kingdom (UK) attended the international conference. Mr Mondiai was the country's sole representative as the PNG Forest Authority and the timber industry's lobby group Forest Industries Association failed to send anyone to the conference. Mr Mondiai recommended that the international meeting take up the issues he raised in his presentation.


May 2004. RH New Zealand dumped from trade association. The New Zealand Timber Imports Association has drop RH subsidiary, The LumberBank from its membership. The Association was outraged at reports of RH involvement in illegal logging and other abuse in Papua New Guinea. RH has responded with a law suit challenging their expulsion from the Association.

Wednesday 30th June, 2004 - Courier Post

Alleged sexual abuse uncovered

AN INTER-agency forestry review team has uncovered alleged sexual abuse and discrimination and breach of Papua New Guinea labour laws in two operations owned by Malaysian logging giant Rimbunan Hijau.

Two confidential reports - prepared by officers from the Departments for Community Development and Labour and Employment - after field trips to Rimbunan Hijau's Wawoi-Guavi and Panakawa operations in Western Province in April and March, has among other allegations revealed poor working conditions, sexual abuse and discrimination, and breach of work permit conditions.

However, RH denied the allegations and said the two reports, which formed part of the inter-agency forestry review team's draft report was biased and harsh and failed to include their explanation of the alleged anomalies, cited by the visiting review team.

The Department for Community Development report among its findings noted several "convenient marriages" allegedly between company expatriates and local women, poor accommodation facilities with seven single people living in one room and private business on the camp site being restricted to expatriate workers.

The department also noted alleged discriminatory practices governing sexual relations between Papua New Guineans and expatriates, such as an incident where two Malaysians were caught having sex with local female workers with the two women later terminated from employment. "Another case involves employees of Indonesian origin who had an affair at the camp and the woman fell pregnant," the report said. "Both had their employment contracts terminated. "There is allegation by national female and male workers that the former boss (the only national) of the personnel department was involved in organising some national female workers to provide sexual favours to the expatriates at the camp. "He physically abused females who refused to entertain his request," the report said.

RH denied practicing "double standards" and said the two Malaysians caught having sex with the two local women were sacked while the Indonesian was sacked as per his mutual working agreement. The company said it had a standing policy to control private sexual affairs concerning national female employees within the factory but it has found it hard to police because of workers' socialising activities.


Thursday 17th June, 2004

RH 'consulted Kalinoe'

RIMBUNAN Hijau "consulted and sought" Chief Secretary Joshua Kalinoe's intervention to stop the National Forest Board from terminating one of its timber permits, a letter written by RH boss James Lau shows.

The letter, dated April 28 by RH (PNG) Ltd managing director Mr Lau and addressed to the National Forest Board chairman and Environment and Conservation Secretary Dr Wari Iamo, showed an audacious attempt by the Malaysian logging giant to stop the board from terminating timber permit TP 2-16 for Vailala Block 2 and 3 in Gulf Province operated by its subsidiary, Frontier Holdings Ltd.

The letter was written in response to a submission by the government forestry review team to the board, recommending that it terminate the logging company's timber permit due to alleged breaches and non-compliance with Papua New Guinea laws. These allegations included TP 2-16 being unlawfully granted to Frontier Holdings Ltd, the latter not being an appropriate company, the Gulf provincial forest management committee report not satisfying sustainable resource requirements, landowners' rights being denied due to their absence at the PFMC meeting and outstanding social infrastructure not provided within six months.

RH has denied all these allegations and said the review team failed to give it time to respond. However, Mr Kalinoe yesterday said he could not recall RH calling him to >seek his "immediate intervention" but admitted meeting company representatives, the National Forest Authority managing director and officials from the Prime Minister's Department on April 23 to discuss issues relating to the controversial project. "The meeting was instigated by myself, not the company and arranged through the proper authority, notably the acting managing director of the PNG National Forest Authority - not directly between my office and the company. The meeting was arranged to facilitate and hasten the conclusion of negotiations on the project agreement for Vailala Block 2 and 3," Mr Kalinoe said to allay fears among non-government organisations that logging companies had "direct access" to the top echelons of government. He said Cabinet had directed that negotiations relating to the Vailala project be concluded by March 31, but they were behind schedule and the meeting was intended to help the State negotiating team wrap-up talks with RH in compliance with the law and the loan conditions of the World Bank's forest and conservation project.

The RH management, in a letter sent to the Post-Courier, apologised saying >the April 28 letter "contained errors in vocabulary" as an expatriate from a non-English speaking country drafted it. "We further would like to emphasise the said letter was written under very desperate circumstance due to a submission to the National Forest Board, hence the lack of clarity," said the company. RH corporate secretary J.K. Balasubramaniam said the company respected PNG's sovereignty.