Lawyer rubbishes ExxonMobil denial of responsibility for mass shooting
A prominent lawyer in Mount Hagan, Papua New Guinea, has rubbished cliams by ExxonMobil that the death of 11 people in a tribal dispute has nothing to do with the company or its massive $15billion liquified natural gas project.
Papau New Guinea was stuned on Monday when news of the 11 deaths from a gun battle involving high powered rifles and the destruction of up to 270 homes emerged from the remote Southern Highlands region. The deaths reportedly occurred as a result of a tribal dispute over benefit sharing from ExxonMobils gas project.
However, ExxonMobil quickly moved to deny the deaths were in any way related to the company or its LNG project, saying instead that it was “a long standing tribal dispute”.
These denials did not impress a prominent human rights lawyer who works in Papua New Guinea’s Southern Highland region and is well versed in large scale resource developments. “What a load of cr*p” she responded when told of ExxonMobils denials.
“The fact is that none of the killings would have happened if the developer [ExxonMobil] and the government had obtained the prior informed consent of the indigenous local people to the project going ahead”.
“ExxonMobil has failed to identify the resource owners. It has not resourced them to understand the dealings and developments that are proposed. They don’t have their own advisors or experts or even an advisory council.”
“If Exxon says its not their fault, that makes me sick”
ExxonMobil’s denial of responsibility was, rather bizarrely, backed up by the PNG police. Highlands police commander Jimmy Onopia could not confirm the number of deaths and said police had not been able to access the remote area, but he was able to state categorically “It is definitely not linked to do with the LNG project.” He was though unable to say how he came to that conclusion.
Corruption is well documented in the PNG police force and teams of officers often act as private security for foreign owned businesses.