Betel Nut Ban In Port Moresby Unconstitutional: Attorney

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Validity of Port Moresby buai ban to be challenged in court

By Charles Moi

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Jan. 3, 2014) – The ban on betel nut sales in the National Capital District is unconstitutional, lawyer Lawrence Pukali says.

And he intends to file court proceedings to challenge the validity of the ban.

Pukali said yesterday the ban restricted the freedom of movement of people into the NCD and prohibited villagers from selling betel nuts, which was a legal cash crop.

He urged NCD Governor Powes Parkop to relax the betel nut ban as it severely affected the livelihood of the people.

Pukali, from Mekeo, in Central, is contesting the Kairuku-Hiri by-election for the seat vacated by Paru Aihi.

Similar concerns have been raised by settlers from Tari, Hela, who have become dependent on the sale of betel nuts for their livelihood in the NCD.

Spokesman Ben Gipe said they would meet this weekend to consider their options, including the possibility of taking legal action against the ban.

Gipe said while they agreed with the governor’s move to clean up the city, they wanted Parkop to ensure that markets were properly set up outside the NCD for them to sell betel nuts.

In response to Pukali’s statement, Parkop (pictured) said he did not see any constitutional issues arising from the ban on betel nut sales in the NCD.

"The National Capital District Commission as the city authority has powers to allow or disallow any type of business activity within the city limits," he said.

Parkop said other laws such as the Summary Offences Act and the Public Health Act were breached everyday when betel nut vendors and chewers were trading as they pleased and "spitting all over the city".

The betel nut ban is in force and vendors have been given a seven-day grace period as of yesterday to sell off all their current stock.

All vehicles entering the NCD would be checked on the Hiritano Highway and at Laloki Bridge to prevent people smuggling betel nut into the city.

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