By TIFFANY NONGORR
Ano Pala, the new Attorney General, has not read his job description in the Attorney General Act (it is really a very short Act and it is beyond me why he couldn't manage it !) and so has stepped WAY beyond his powers and issued the letter to the media last week.
I enclose my clients/the referrors' official response (published in full below).
Trying to tell the media they couldn't even print letters to the editor on the environment amendments and trying to tell the police to cancel or not grant permits for protests ! What is going on ! This is SERIOUS !!!!
We the Referrors in the Supreme Court Reference SCR 3 of 2010 and the plaintiffs in the Ramu Nickel tailings case note the purported “directions” or “orders” to the public, police and media by the Attorney General Ano Pala and comment as follow:
- The Reference asks the Supreme Court to give its opinion on whether the Environmental (Amendment) Act 2010 contravenes the Constitution;
- The Supreme Court will decide this on a construction of the Act against the provisions of the Constitution raised in the Reference. Its function is one of interpreting the two laws;
- The issue before the Supreme Court is therefore - is the Act constitutional? That is all, nothing more and nothing less.
- A Reference seeking the advisory opinion of the Supreme Court does not involve a dispute in the strict sense where sub judice applies. Example - the Organic Law on the Integrity of Political Parties and Candidates is challenged as being unconstitutional. But, debate has been going on upon this. Indeed, there is a conference to be held in Alotau on it advertised in the newspapers. A party to the Reference raised the issue of sub-judice there. But, this has not stopped discussion of that law! Lawyers acting for the Attorney-General in that case - argued that conferences and discussions on that law were not sub-judice. Why the double standard by the Attorney General?
- There is nothing preventing the MEDIA or ANYONE else from discussing – if the Act does take away landowners right to go to court and sue as the Referror landowners will maintain - if that is a good policy.
- The Attorney General's "advice" to MEDIA and others is extra-ordinary. Why has he not given this advice to NEC the Parliament so that all the Parliamentary debate on it this week should not have taken place?
- The Attorney General has no power to direct police what to do as he does in the second last paragraph of his letter. Section 197(2) of the Constitution says that no one outside the Force has power to direct police on laying and prosecuting charges which necessarily includes the power of arrest that he is threatening people with.
- We understand that Mr Pala is new to the role of Attorney General and we respectfully request he should take the time to read the Attorney General Act to find out what his job description is. He is the principal legal adviser to NEC, and that is the extent of his authority
- The AG, instead of advising the government on legal matters, is attempting to usurp the powers of the police and stop people from expressing themselves - which is guaranteed by the Constitution. This in itself is unlawful conduct.
- Sama Melambo
- Eddie Tarsie
- Farima Siga
- Peter Sel