Kajir has faced considerable personal risks in her years of posing legal challenges. She has been physically attacked more than once, and robbers forced their way into her home to steal her computer, which had files on all her legal cases.
Since the 1980s, industrial logging has severely depleted and damaged Papua New Guinea’s tropical forests. Malaysian companies dominate the business, led by Rimbunan Hijau, a multinational timber conglomerate with logging operations in China, Brazil, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Australia, New Zealand, Vanuatu, and Papua New Guinea.
Forestry experts consider Rimbunan Hijau one of the most damaging and irresponsible global logging companies. Besides controlling 80% of logging in the country, Rimbunan Hijau also owns one of the country’s two national newspapers. The current executive and legislative branches of the government fully support the logging industry, and particularly Rimbunan Hijau.
The government’s support has only weakened landholder rights. In 2005, a forestry bill was introduced that stripped language that had guaranteed consent of landowners as a requirement for timber permits; it also removed the “NGO seat” on the National Forest Board and replaced it with a seat for the timber industry.
Many NGOs and legal experts in Papua New Guinea believe that the revised bill violates protections and rights embedded in the country’s constitution, in stark contrast to its reputation for a pro-ecological constitution and sound environmental laws.