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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (July 31, 2000 - The National/PINA Nius Online)---Women can now be appointed village court magistrates under an amendment to the Village Court Act passed in Parliament.

The amendment was introduced by the Moresby South MP, Lady Carol Kidu.

Kokopo MP Sir Rabbie Namaliu, in commending the amendment, also said that women should also be considered for the post of judges in the National and Supreme Court bench.

He also called on the Government to use the provisions of the Constitution to appoint women representatives to Parliament.

Sir Rabbie said women are more knowledgeable about problems faced by women, especially those related to sexual offences, and can give better advice and counsel.

Planning and Implementation Minister Moi Avei, in supporting the amendment, said funding should be provided for the training of women magistrates.

Madang MP Jacob Wama supported the amendment, but she had reservations about whether women magistrates in village courts are capable of handling the pressure that comes with the job.

He said as a former magistrate, he knows that the task would entail a 24-hour commitment, as magistrates may be called up during the night to resolve disputes.

Mr. Wama said he was not sure whether women could mediate between warring parties in areas with tribal factions.

Justice Minister Kilroy Genia said it was an "oversight" on his part when the amendments were not included in the recently passed District Court Act.

Lady Kidu, in response, said women are capable in mediating disputes.

She supported Sir Rabbie's call for women representation in Parliament, calling for some sort of sectional voting where only women can vote for their representative.

The other amendment passed by Parliament was the Oaths, Affirmations and Statutory Declarations (Amendment) Bill, where an intending Commissioner for Oaths would have to apply with a fee of K 200 (US$ 77) before being appointed and those found guilty of signing false statements will be heavily penalized.

For additional reports from The National, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The National (Papua New Guinea).

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