Democratic governance and rule of law top agenda for Pacific legal eagles

28/10/2012 18:51

Pacific Islands Law Officers Network (PILON) delegates welcomed by traditional dancers in East New Britain. 





THE challenges Pacific Island states face in their bid to improve democratic governance and the rule of law will be the top agenda for the region’s  leading lawyers when they meet in Papua New Guinea (PNG).
The 31st Pacific Islands Law Officers Network (PILON) annual conference in Kokopo, East New Britain province has attracted over 60 lawyers from all Pacific Island countries including Australia and New Zealand and comprises attorney generals, departmental heads and senior counsels.
PNG Justice Minister and Attorney General, Kerenga Kua, will give the opening address at the conference which runs from October 29-30.
Discussions at the summit will revolve around the theme ‘challenges and strategies to enhance democratic governance and the rule of law’ and would include presentations by PNG’s constitutional law expert Professor John Nonggorr, retired PNG National and Supreme Court justice Maurice Sheehan, and the attorney general of Pitcairn Island and a professor of law at the Auckland University, Paul Rishworth.
Professor Rishworth will set the scene for the conference when he speaks on ‘democratic governance and the rule of law’, before colleague Nonggorr gives a presentation on ‘current and emerging challenges to democratic governance and the rule of law’.
PNG’s recent constitutional crisis, which began in August last year with the ‘election’ of Ialibu-Pangia MP Peter O’Neill as Prime Minister and culminated with a failed military coup and student-led protest marches in Port Moresby, could feature in Professor Nonggorr’s presentation.
Other presenters include John Toguata from the PNG-Australia Law and Justice Sector, PNG Media Council president Joe Kanekane, Sisilia Eteuati (Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering), Tonga attorney general Neil Adsett, Molean Kilepak (PNG Department of Justice and Attorney General) and the secretary for the Australian attorney general’s department, Roger Wilkins.   
International organisations that will have a presence at the conference include the Commonwealth Secretariat, Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, International Committee of the Red Cross, University of the South Pacific and the South Pacific Lawyer’s Association.
East New Britain’s hosting of the summit will also see the chair of the organisation passed from New Zealand to PNG with the PNG Department of Justice and Attorney General secretary, Dr Lawrence Kalinoe, taking over the responsibility.