Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Namah welcomes Ombudsman Commission brief on prime minister's case

Leader of PNG Party Belden Namah has welcomed the Ombudsman Commission (OC) explanation on the status of leadership referral case involving Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare.

Namah said it was in PNG’s national interest that the OC went publicly and explained that the onus was on the public prosecutor to act on Sir Michael’s referral.

Last Friday (Nov 19 2010), Chief Ombudsman Chronox Manek told a media conference in Port Moresby that Sir Michael was referred to office of the public prosecutor after his court challenge failed to stop the referral.

Manek said he was not aware of any court order preventing the public prosecutor from appointing a tribunal.

Namah said following the OC explanation it was incumbent on the public prosecutor to move swiftly to perform his constitutionally mandated duty speedily.

“This matter involves the chief executive of this nation and therefore demands for the public prosecutor to act in a timely manner in the public interest,” he said.

Namah said he was not trying to interfere with the work of constitutional offices, but merely asked for high profile cases involving Sir Michael and other politicians to be dealt with speedily in public interest.

 “It is only fair that the constitutional offices do their jobs in timely manner so that leaders referred do not continue in office making important decision for the nation while there is a cloud of uncertainty hanging over them,” he said.

 Namah said the public prosecutor owed it to the over six million PNG citizens to act speedily.

“It is unfair and unjust for ordinary citizens to be prosecuted very quickly for crimes they commit, while there are long delays in dealing with lawmakers and senior public servants,” he said.

“I see no logic in parliament continuing to make laws when the lawmakers are not dealt with in timely manner for offences they are alleged to have committed.

“Parliament should stop making laws and the government releases all prisoners nationwide if we are going to continue this way.

“The general perception among our citizens is that there are two sets of law, one for the big men and another for ordinary citizens.

“This perception must be corrected by relevant state agencies moving fast to clear outstanding cases involving public office holders.”

The OC alleges that Sir Michael failed to lodge annual returns for the periods 1994/5, 1995/96 and 1996/7, his lodgement returns for the periods 1998/99, 1999/2000, 2000/01, 2001/02, 20003/04 and incomplete statements for periods 1992/93, 1993/94,1997/98, 1999/2000, 2000.01, 20001/02 and 20002/03.

The OC referred Sir Michael to the Public Prosecutor for it to ask the Chief Justice to appoint a Leadership Tribunal to deal with the allegations, but Sir Michael went to court seeking orders to stop the OC from investigating him.

On June 24 2008, National Court Judge, Justice Derek Hartshorn rejected an application by Sir Michael for a temporary injunction to stop the OC from investigating him.

When rejecting Sir Michael’s temporary injunction, Judge Hartshorn ruled that it was not in the interest of the justice of the general public that lawful authorities should be prevented from performing their legal and constitutional duties.

Sir Michael had gone to court asking the court to grant him certain declarations and a permanent injunction preventing the OC from continuing its investigations.

However, Judge Hartshorn stated that Sir Michael did not have a strong case to stop the OC from continuing its investigations.

Section 4 of the Organic Law on the Duties and Responsibilities of the Leadership requires every person who is subject to the Leadership Code to furnish the OC every year details of assets, income and other required information.


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