LAWYERS CAUTION SKATE ON BOUGAINVILLE AMNESTY

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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (January 24, 1998 - Niuswire/ Independent/Abby Yadi and Neville Choi)---Legal experts have expressed concern about Prime Minister Bill Skate's announcement to grant, in principle, amnesty to all sides involved in the Bougainville crisis, and say the government should exercise caution ion carrying it out, The Independent reports.

One well-informed legal commentator said that although there are provisions in the Constitution which can be used to address the matter of amnesty, there is no particular provision which deals with it directly.

Another lawyer who lectures at the Law Faculty of the University of Papua New Guinea, Eric Kwa, also noted that there were several options available for the Skate government to succeed with its commitment to provide amnesty for all those involved in the crisis.

"Firstly, there are two main ways of granting amnesty. It can be done through an Act of Parliament with the legislative options that are available," he said.

He explained that if the government wanted to grant amnesty to the participants of the crisis, the first way should be for the House to pass an Act of Parliament under section 109 of the Constitution which gives the power to pass an Act of Parliament to make it law.

"In this case the Parliament can pass an Act to grant amnesty to members of the Bougainville Revolutionary Army or anyone else involved in the crisis.

"Another option would be for the government to address amnesty under section 151 of the Constitution which deals with the granting of pardons. This, however, applies mainly to persons who have been convicted of an offense, or are held in penal detention.

"They can also pass a bill under section 151 whereby a committee decides to whom pardons can be granted," Mr. Kwa said.

Prime Minister Skate specially offered exiled BRA leaders Martin Miriori and Sydney-based Moses Havini the opportunity to return home. Mr. Miriori currently resides in The Hague, The Netherlands.

Title -- 1112 BOUGAINVILLE: Lawyers caution Skate over amnesty Date -- 24 January 1998 Byline -- Abby Yadi and Neville Choi Origin -- Niuswire Source -- The Independent (PNG), 23/1/98 Copyright -- The Independent Status -- Abridged

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