PNG Parliament Repeals Controversial Legislation

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Judicial Conduct, PM age limitation laws dropped

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Feb. 7, 2013) – Papua New Guinea’s Parliament has repealed three controversial laws enacted during the political impasse to fulfill Prime Minister Peter O’Neill’s commitment to correcting the wrongs of the past and reconcile with past opponents in the current coalition.

The Judicial Conduct Bill, the age-limit for a Prime Minister and the Supreme Court Amendment Act were all repealed yesterday with overwhelming support from both sides of the House.

Mr. O’Neill, who tabled the bill to amend the Prime Minister and NEC Act, told Parliament it was basically to outline and repeal the age limitations of Prime Ministers that those who are 73 and over are not considered for the position of the Prime Minister by Parliament.

"As we move on the Government feels that the people have chosen these leaders and given the mandate and the trust to them. They must be given equal opportunity to take up any position in this country," Mr. O’Neill said.

"If our people can trust them we must as well trust them too."

The Prime Minister secured an overwhelming majority of 85-0 votes.

Minister for Justice and Attorney-General Kerenga Kua presented the Judicial Conduct Bill and Parliament voted in support with a majority 87-0 votes to repeal the law.

The objective of the Judicial Conduct Bill was to repeal the law in its entirety.

The introduction of this bill is consistent with the commitment of the O’Neill-Dion Government to correct the wrongs of the recent past, to reconcile fully with past opponents and present partners in the coalition government to bring about peace and stability and strengthen prospects for growth and development in this country.

Mr. Kua said it was in the midst of the controversies since August 2012 that the Judicial Conduct Law was passed. "Its primary objective was to disqualify judges of the National and Supreme Courts from presiding over cases in circumstances where independence and impartiality was thought to have been brought into question and to punish them should they refuse to step down," he said.

He said there was no further need to maintain this Act as it had outlived its utility and purpose and the repeal of the law would not leave a vacuum in so far as the conduct of judges were concerned.

There are sufficient laws that cover this area where judges find themselves in situations where potential conflicts of interest may arise impinging upon their independence and impartiality.

Mr. Kua said the Chief Justice also issued the Code of Judiciary Rules that provided for judges to act in total independence and impartiality and act diligently in the discharge of their duties.

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