Over the decade 2012 to 2021, many residents living in the informal settlements of Port Moresby, the National Capital District of Papua New Guinea, were forcefully evicted from their homes. Some of these evictions involved state land registered to registered title holders. This paper presents results from a spatial-temporal analysis of the evictions of informal settlements during this period. A discourse analysis of court decisions is undertaken on seven case studies to understand how the courts deal with the rights of communities forcefully evicted from state land. The paper finds that the PNG court system focusses on determining the legal property rights over the land in question and court decisions tend to favour the legally registered owner of the title. Only limited attention is given to protecting the human rights of communities impacted by evictions from state land while ownership claims of Indigenous landowners are very marginal in the court processes. The findings suggest the need for urgent legislative and policy reforms to strengthen protections for the rights of communities impacted by mass evictions and the rights of Indigenous owners in these processes.
Dr Michelle Nayahamui Rooney, Research Fellow, Development Policy Centre, ANU
The ANU-UPNG seminar series is part of the partnership between the ANU Crawford School of Public Policy and the UPNG School of Business and Public Policy, supported by the PNG-Aus Partnership.