By Theckla Gunga – EM TV, Port Moresby
An awareness campaign conducted by Transparency International has highlighted the need for children to know basic land rights, for which they are entitled to, as Papua New Guineans.
TIPNG conducted a forum at the University of Papua New Guinea today, for members of the Youth Against Corruption Association.
TIPNG’s Program Lawyer, Natasha Utubasi, told YACA members the lack of access to land and birth rights information has handicapped many locals to knowing their land rights.
“The program lawyer said the increase in the lack of access to basic land rights information from the bulk of the population indicates that many people do not have access to vital land rights information,” Utubasi said.
The Know Your Basic Land Rights campaign is one forum that simplifies the importance of knowing one’s birth right for children at secondary education level.
Transparency International believes that students are direct links between landowners and the government. Thus, educating them on the importance of knowing their lands rights will minimise illegal land grabbing in PNG.
Papua New Guinea is one of the few countries in the world that has its customary land rights protected by its constitution.
Lawyer Utubasi said, since the declaration of the protection of customary land rights in the 1880s, 97% of land was customarily owned and only 3% owned by the state.
“In 1886, a profound statement was made to protect the rights of native customary land and that statement has been protected until today through the successive governments.”
However, a land survey conducted in 2013 revealed that about 11% of customary land was lost through the process of Special Agreement Business Leases and illegal land grabbing.