International State Crime Initiative, www.statecrime.org
On 24 January 2012, a landslide in the Southern Highlands of Papua New Guinea buried the villages of Tumbi and Tumbiago. PNG Red Cross has estimated that between 25 and 60 people were killed, although no official death toll exists.
In the landslide’s aftermath, local landowners, village leaders, victim’s families, officers from the National Disaster Centre, and international landslide experts, raised concerns over the role played by a local limestone quarry which serviced ExxonMobil’s Liquefied Natural Gas project. When an arms-length inquiry into the disaster failed to materialize, local landowners disrupted efforts to clear a road essential to ExxonMobil’s construction work. With officers from the Royal Papua New Guinea Mobile Squads and the Papua New Guinea Defence Force on site, protesting landowners were allegedly threatened, and then offered cash incentives, to remove the blockade. The blockade was lifted, and construction work resumed.
To date no inquiry has been held into the cause of the landslide – despite promises by senior members of Cabinet– while the displaced have been forced to live in tents in close proximity to the landslide site. This report demands that a Commission of Inquiry investigate a) the cause of the landslide; b) government oversight of safety at the LNG project; c) the response of the NDC to the landslide; and d) allegations of impropriety and collusion on the past of ExxonMobil via their subsidiary Esso Highlands Limited.
To download a full copy of ISCI’s report click here.