PNG civil society formulate action against O'Neill govt's Judicial Conduct Act
PNG blogger and University of PNG student Nou Vada giving a presentation at the
CCAC meeting. Picture courtesy of ID PNG of The Truth As It Is PNG (Facebook group).
By Jaive Smare @ The Truth As It Is PNG
Notes from the Community Coalition Against Corruption (CCAC) meeting on Saturday, March 24, 2012 in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea (PNG). They are formulating a plan of action in line and in support of the actions taken by the University of Papua New Guinea (UPNG) students in response to the Judicial Act bill which was quickly passed in the PNG parliament on Wednesday. Some important issues raised at the meeting and from research by UPNG students:
- The Act if made law will most certainly affect every other court case in PNG, civil, criminal, constitutional etc where a decision was made retrospective to November 1, 2011. This will effect thousands of cases in PNG's judicial system.
- The Act conflicts with constitutional rights, such as the right to privacy, free association and free speech.
- The students realizing the urgency of the situation as the elections around the corner, convened, researched and acted within 24 - 48 hrs of the 3 page bill being passed in Parliament. The problem now is Provocation, if the students continue to act as the only lonely and public voice of reason, and if something goes wrong, if police open fire on them or opportunists take control of their good intentions and cause a riot of some sort, the government can declare a state of emergency. A state of emergency is the only constitutional reason to defer elections in PNG.
- The Act is 3 only three pages. Its is really just 1.5 pages in context as the introduction is just preamble. This is probably the shortest Act ever introduced in parliament. It is full of ambiguity, the idea of disqualification based on third degree of separation infact disqualifies most PNG judges from the thousands of cases they have presided on.
- The next course of action is the prevent the Act from being gazetted. Once it becomes law, it is hard to reverse.
- Even the position of chief justice in relation to this law is now confusing.
- The once very vocal Ombudsman Commission is now very quiet.
- The churches do not support the bill.
- The PNG Law Society has not made any comments on this bill. Instead law students have and by doing so they have put their future careers on the line.
- There is a fine balance that the students are trying to walk without inciting violence. Once PNG falls into a State of Emergency, the elections will most certainly be deferred.
- The PNG Trade Unions have no course of action to follow as yet.
- The credentials of the Lawyers who drafted the bill for the Government should be reviewed.
- The CCAC, PNG Chapter of Transparency International (TIPNG) and the Council of Churches will start their campaign against the Act today Sunday March 25, 2012 with a press conference.