Patrick Lombaia

 

 

We have to stand together, network and fight for the common interest of our indigenous people in our respective countries. Patrick Lombaia, PNG

 

Vale Patrick Lombaia

PNG community advocate and human rights defender – passed away January 2020

 

 

In January, the Diplomacy Training Program (DTP) learnt with sadness of the death of Patrick Lombaia from Porgera, PNG - community leader/advocate, human rights defender and DTP alumnus.

 

Patrick represented the Strickland River landowners in their battles with the Porgera Gold Mine in the PNG Highlands.  

 

Local communities have been working over the last 31 years to expose the environmental harms and human rights violations that have resulted since the Porgera gold mine (Placer Dome/Barrick Gold) began production in 1989.  Patrick’s community was one of those affected downstream of the mine with their health and livelihoods negatively impacted by mining waste that flowed directly into their rivers and water systems – and by violence of the conflicts over the mine. Human rights violations have included beatings, rapes and killings by security personnel employed by the mine owners.  

 

As a leader for his community, with relatives among the victims of the violence, Patrick took the path of peaceful advocacy. In the words of others from Porgera, “Patrick started as a lonely fighter, but fought a winning battle.” The PNG Government and the company responded to his allegations and his advocacy.

 

A founding member of Papua New Guinea Mining Watch, he set about educating himself, and others, about human rights, and about the mechanisms that could be used to seek justice and redress for the victims.  He was determined to change the way that extractive industries operated in PNG – with a focus on the need for companies to respect the right of Indigenous peoples to Free, Prior and Informed Consent – and to be transparent about the revenues and taxes. He saw the need to amend the Mining Act and the Oil and Gas Act – to ensure communities taking ownership of their mineral resources.

 

In March 2009, Patrick joined the PNG Board of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI).  Patrick participated in DTP’s 2016 Asia-Pacific Regional Indigenous Peoples, Human Rights and Advocacy Course – presenting on the Porgera case, as part of his efforts to draw international concern.  He went on to take these concerns to different UN Forums.

 

Training has in fact given me the knowledge of how to follow the UN processes and procedures for human rights violations and that is one of the areas that will really help me in the future to address issues in Indigenous rights violations back in my country through those special procedures and mechanisms within the UN.

 

Patrick went on to complete other training and a UN human rights train-the-trainer program in 2019, to become an accredited human rights trainer, so that he could build the knowledge of others. He continued to be based in, and advocate for, his community. In November 2019, Patrick appeared to be in good health as an active participant in DTP’s first PNG national level program on Business and Human Rights and the SDGs, and helped record a special video message to first Pacific session at the UN Global Forum on Business and Human Rights in Geneva. He was a founding member of a new PNG Network on Business and Human Rights, established by participants in that program and generously committed his services to be a trainer on future courses. 

 

It was therefore with great sadness that DTP learnt of the death of Patrick in PNG in January 2020. DTP extends its condolences to Patrick’s family and loved ones.

 

 

Profile written January 2020