Home > Corruption, Papua New Guinea > Prime Minister to delay Judicial Conduct law implementation

Prime Minister to delay Judicial Conduct law implementation

AAP

A controversial law giving parliament the power to suspend judges will not be implemented for another nine months to allow for proper consultation with the public, Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O’Neill is expected to announce in a speech.

The announcement, expected tonight, comes amid threats of a nationwide prison breakout and a mass student boycott of classes to protest the law.

Mr O’Neill is expected to announce implementation of the Judicial Conduct Bill 2012, which passed parliament a week ago, will be delayed and it, along with other constitutional reforms, will be put to the public.

Over a nine-month period, PNG’s Constitutional Law Reform Commission (CLRC) will engage in a public discussion in 20 provinces before parliament decides whether to implement the law, CLRC chairman Gabriel Kapris said.

“It will allow the public to give their views,” Mr Kapris told AAP.

“Not just the Judicial Bill but other bills and amendments that have gone through parliament.

“The commission will then give its report, independent of politics, to the parliament.”

Mr Kapris said he had been told by Mr O’Neill in a meeting earlier in the week the law would be put on hold.

A spokesman for Mr O’Neill, Daniel Korimbao, said the PM was expected to give a speech at the University of Goroka on Thursday and “there might be something about it in that”.

The law is controversial because it appears to the public to be a “nuclear option” in what appears to be a continuing dispute between the government and Chief Justice Sir Salamo Injia.

Announcing a temporary halt on the law at a university comes as little surprise from the media savvy Mr O’Neill.

On Friday, several thousand students at the University of Papua New Guinea staged a marched on Morata Haus – the home of the PM’s office – to voice their anger at the bill.

Those same students staged a boycott of classes on Thursday.

“Our doing this is for the best interest of the nation,” student council president Emmanuel Issac said.

Prison officials are also on high alert after a man claiming to be an inmate of one of PNG’s 20 prisons called a local radio station and threatened a mass breakout unless the law was repealed.

In 1979, 1000 prisoners escaped their cells to protest then Prime Minister Somare’s decision to pardon his justice minister, Nahau Rooney, a day after she had been sentenced to eight months for contempt.

The current government has been at loggerheads with the chief justice since soon after it took office.

It failed three times to have him removed from overseeing the constitutional challenge into how the O’Neill government took office.

In November, a month before losing the case in a 3/2 decision, and again in January this year, the government tried and failed to have Sir Salamo removed from office pending an investigation into his handling of court finances.

Three weeks ago Sir Salamo was arrested and charged with perverting the course of justice but the court soon after issued a permanent stay on proceedings, saying the police investigation was an abuse of process.

Soon after taking office by overwhelming parliamentary vote last year, the O’Neill government passed a series of amendments to the nation’s governing laws – including giving parliament power to unseat a sitting PM who has been out of the country three months,

Mr O’Neill was elevated to the top job after parliament mounted a vote to dump then PM Sir Michael Somare, who was out of the country for five months undergoing several heart operations.

The constitutionality of those laws is before the court, with a decision expected on Monday.

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  1. MN
    March 29, 2012 at 11:17 pm

    For a good further analysis on why the Judicial Conduct Act 2012 is so dangerous read this:

    http://garamut.wordpress.com/2012/03/29/why-the-judicial-conduct-act-2012-is-dangerous/

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