PNG JUDGES WARNED TO BE ABOVE POLITICS

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Show no mercy to other arms of government who violate law

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, May 4, 2009) – Attorney-General Dr Allan Marat has called on the judiciary to "show no mercy from the bench" where such criminal and deceitful networks existed within the two arms of Government stretching into the private sector.

These networks are in total defiance of the rule of law and principles of good governance.

Dr Marat said: "Net-working between some State ministers, departmental heads, public servant and some members of private sector to defeat the rule of law and also to defeat due process and principles of good governance must never receive mercy from the Bench.

"Such criminal and deceitful networks in total defiance of the rule of law and principles of good governance must not be given any opportunity by the bench to flourish," Dr Marat said last Friday during the ceremonial sitting to welcome three judges onto their new elevated positions on the bench.

He said being a judge meant one was part of the solution to the problem of bad governance that is found in some public and private organisations.

Dr Marat described the position of a judge as a position that "is very powerful" and also a "very responsible" one because judges can take away the rights and freedom of individuals in the cause of the pronouncement of their judgments.

"It is a responsible position in that you do not wield power from the bench in order to unduly suppress and oppress the weak.

"But with understanding to educate them so they understand their obligations towards their fellow human beings and also understand the process towards taking full responsibility over their own lives," he said.

Being a part of the solution "means people look up to you as a part of a solution to criminal, corrupt, deceitful, fraudulent and wicked net-workings that are prevalent in some sectors of our society today; and crippling and slowly eating away at whatever little we have left of good governance." Dr Alan Marat said, adding that people looked to the courts for quick dispensation of justice.

"When justice is delayed more legal, social, economic and political problems can arise, even death as in land dispute cases," he said.

Dr Marat was speaking at the ceremonial sitting at the Waigani Supreme and National Court at the occasion to welcome Justice Gibbs Salika as the Deputy Chief Justice, Judges Joseph Yagi and Colin Makail who had been acting judges since late last year to permanent judges for the next 10 years.

Dr Marat said: "The rule of law must be fearless and without fear or favour, upheld in all cases coming before the courts.

"The so-called powerful must be fearlessly and without favour dealt with by judges on the bench according to admissible evidence.

"Economic considerations must never be allowed to affect strict observance of the rule of law although when granting interim orders or making decisions or adjourning matters to a later date, commercial implications must be borne in mind.

"More important still, abuse of political power directly resulting in undue interference in democratic governance that belittles the rule of law must be ruthlessly punished from the Bench. Too much tolerance or fear of consequences does not help maintain a proper balance between the three arms of the Government."

He added that being a judge meant they had publicly declared to be enforcers of the law and thereby becoming the solution to the problems and difficulties that beset the Government of the day; its organisations: social and economic and private individuals in this nation.

"It means that you participate through appropriate judgments conveying the message that existing laws that have withstood the test of time are not haphazardly amended just so that illegalities in what is imposed on PNG from outside, using arguments of best practices are legitimised," Dr Marat said.

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