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NGOs lodge complaint against ANZ Bank for PNG illegal logging ties

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By Rainforest Action Network | Australia and Papua New Guinea, Aug 23 2006
Five community groups from Australia and Papua New Guinea today filed a formal complaint against the ANZ Bank over its financial support of logging companies that are engaged in human rights abuses and environmental destruction in PNG.
The complaint (or "specific instance") was filed under the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises.

The complaint alleges that ANZ is "actively facilitating and supporting" the PNG operations of Malaysian logging giant Rimbunan Hijau, a company whose operations involve "serious human rights abuses, environmentally devastating logging practices and repeated, serious illegal conduct." ANZ has acknowledged Rimbunan Hijau is a "long-standing client" in PNG.

Annie Kajir, CEO of the Environmental Law Centre in PNG, said: "Compliance with basic human rights and environmental standards should be a strict condition of doing business with a reputable bank like ANZ. We hope mediation under the OECD Guidelines will help the bank improve its standards in PNG."
"ANZ and other banks can play a constructive role by supporting sustainable, community- based forestry in PNG. We are asking the Commonwealth of Australia to use its powers under the OECD Guidelines to help companies in its jurisdiction do the right thing," Ms Kajir said.

Charles Berger, ACF Legal Adviser, said: "While ANZ has made good progress in being a more responsible corporation in Australia, we would like to see the same sort of commitment for the bank's PNG operations. Dealing with corporate recidivists like Rimbunan Hijau should be a no-go zone for the bank." Under the guidelines, the Australian OECD National Contact Point, an authority within the Commonwealth Department of Treasury, has power to mediate the dispute.

The groups filing the complaint are the Australian Conservation Foundation, the Human Rights Council of Australia and three PNG community groups: the Environmental Law Centre, the PNG Eco-Forestry Forum and the Centre for Environmental Law and Community Rights (CELCOR).

ACF and CELCOR's recently released report, 'Bulldozing progress: Human rights abuses and corruption in PNG's large scale logging industry', is available at: www.acfonline.org.au.
contact

Charles Berger
c.berger@acfonline.org.au

Rainforest Action Network Website

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