ON Tuesday morning two weeks ago, National Capital District Commission officials with the assistance of armed police, the Paga Hill Development Company and Curtain Bros demolished the SDA Church located at Paga Point together with the shelters of settlers on reclaimed land below Paga Hill at Paga Point.
The demolition and destruction of the church and the settlers’ shelters was carried out without any consideration of human dignity and the interest and welfare of the affected citizens. This is a blatant violation of the Constitution.
It is quite amazing that a person of the calibre of Powes Parkop, the NCD Governor, who used to be describe himself as a champion of “human rights” could authorise his employees and henchmen to destroy the church and the settlers’ life with the use of armed police, without any human consideration at all.
I only wish that the three World War II bombs had exploded that day and destroyed all those involved in the destruction of this area.
Where was NCDC when this area was filled by extracted rocks and soil from the Burns Peak Poreporena Freeway construction in the late 1970s?
When did NCDC declare the reclaimed land at Paga Point to be “part commercial, part public utilities and part open space”?
If NCDC claims title to the reclaimed land, why did it not prevent the settlers from moving there from the start, when the area was filled?
These citizens have been residing on the reclaimed land for many years without interference by any authority.
The eviction exercise initiated by Paga Hill Development Company was wrong in the first place. Even the National Court Order to give vacant possession of Portion 1597 including the reclaimed land was wrong.
As determined by the Supreme Court on 1 July 2014, such order given by the National Court on 29 January 2014 excludes the area known as the reclaimed land. The reason is simple- Portion 1597 did not, does not and never include the reclaimed land.
Up to today, some settlers are still residing on the reclaimed land under sun, wind and cold because they have nowhere to go.
The destruction of their homes was done in haste and without affording them ample opportunity to relocate. NCDC headed by the so called “human rights” lawyer and Governor Powes Parkop must be held accountable for their employees’ actions, especially when there is a Supreme Court order in place.
I therefore call on the Governor of NCD, Curtain Bros, Paga Hill Development Company and the Police to compensate these settlers who have fallen victim of the unconstitutional breaches of all those concerned.
These settlers are simple people, some unemployed, but they are nevertheless human beings and they deserved to be treated with human dignity.
It is ironic and quite sarcastic and stupid for Gudumundur Fridriksson to deny his company’s involvement when the settlers have seen and identified Stanley Liria in company with NCDC and Curtain Bros employees in the area since the Supreme Court decision.
The settlers may be just ordinary people but they are not stupid and they know who Stanley Liria is.
I would suggest that the settlers’ lawyer file contempt of court proceedings against Stanley Liria and his company and the others who have been involved in this destruction.
Contempt of the Supreme Court Order is a very serious matter and hopefully the Supreme Court will deal with those who think they are smarter than the Supreme Court.
I condemn in the strongest terms possible the inhuman and unconstitutional treatment these ordinary Papua New Guineans have suffered at the hands of NCDC, Police, Curtain Bros and Paga Hill Development Company.
I also condemn the unlawful threats and violence by armed police who behaved as if they were above the law. They behaved like armed criminals.
I also call on Geoffrey Vaki and Jim Andrews to stop their armed thug policemen from taking the side of private companies and on NCDC and to stop harassing unarmed civilians.
Finally, I call of NCD Governor Powes Parkop to apologise to the settlers and compensate them for the damage inflicted on them through his employees.
As a champion of human rights, he should be accountable for the abuse and breaches of human rights his employees had rendered to these simple innocent Papua New Guineans and o the right thing by these people who continue to suffer from the unconstitutional violations.
Mark Sevua CBE is a retired judge of the PNG Supreme Court