27 Mar 2009

PNG govt says new legislation will help prevent land disputes

2:39 pm on 27 March 2009

Papua New Guinea's Minister of Lands and Mining says new legislation the government has passed will help prevent land disputes which spiral into deadly violence such as that in Morobe province last weekend.

Fighting which killed three people erupted in Wau when hundreds of Watut tribesmen attacked the villages of Biangai tribe as part of an ongoing dispute between the two tribes.

The dispute is over ownership of part of the McAdam National Park around the Hidden Valley Gold mine.

The Minister, Dr Puka Temu, says the government this month established Incorporated Landowner Group structures to empower the tribes themselves to sort out ownership of land before it is developed.

"They then decide at their level what are the actual boundaries. Because many times we bring these cases to the court, away from the local knowledge... court makes a decision, like in this case in wau, they say no, no, no, court made a mistake so then we have disputes. We want to strengthen the Incorporated Landowner Group process by this amendment."