Independence of judiciary under grave threat in Papua New Guinea

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Navi Pillay

The government of Papua New Guinea is being urged to refrain from enacting laws which undermine the rule of law and interfere with the independence of the judiciary.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay cites the recent enactment of the Judicial Conduct Act, which establishes a new parallel system to deal with misconduct of judges, contrary to constitutional provisions on the issue.

She says the Act seriously affects the ability of the judiciary to operate independently and warns that such measures could lead to serious instability in the country.

Rupert Colville from the UN Human Rights Office says attempts to interfere with the judiciary in Papua New Guinea stems from a dispute over who is the legitimate head of government.

 "Since the August 2011 change of Government and the subsequent dispute over who is the legitimate Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, the Executive and Parliament have taken steps which seriously affect the ability of the judiciary to operate independently. It appears that the Judicial Conduct Act is being used to interfere with the legal proceedings to determine the legality of the current administration, and this relates back to a Supreme Court decision back in December that the Government of the current prime minister was unconstitutional. The opinion of the high commissioners office is that the judiciary must be allowed to operate free from external pressures, threats or executive or legislative interference, international law is clear on this matter."

Duration 44"

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December 2017
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