The International State Crime Initiative (ISCI) last week released a report it drafted appertaining to January’s Tumbi Landslide in the Southern Highlands. The Tumbi Landslide is one of PNG’s worst ever landslide disasters and is believed to have claimed up to 60 lives.
The short but succinct report highlights disturbing concerns ISCI considers to be important enough to warrant a Commission of Inquiry into the landslide.
And I agree.
ISCI identifies four key areas needing to be investigated:
- The cause of the landslide;
- Government oversight of safety at the LNG project;
- The response of the National Disaster Centre to the landslide; and,
- Allegations of impropriety and collusion on the part of ExxonMobil via their subsidiary Esso Highlands Limited.
Commission of Inquiries vary in terms of objectives, but generally speaking, their roles are to collect information – coupled with expert opinion – and resolve conflict with the underlying theme of restoring public confidence.
When an inquiry is launched to determine facts in retrospect – most often used for accidents or tragedies – it is widely viewed that the purpose or focus of a Commission should not be the determination of individual blame, but rather, the purpose or focus should be on what information is needed to educate the public and provide context to justify the impending recommendations.