Sunday, February 13, 2011

Basil rejects Sir Arnold's statement



The statement by the attorney general that the public should not demand swift decision making from the chief justice as to the appointment of a leadership tribunal is as offensive as it is clearly wrong.

  The chief justice, like the attorney general, is public servants and should be answerable and accountable to the people of Papua New Guinea at all times.

  Serious allegations have been made against the most-senior public servant in PNG, the prime minister. 

These allegations remain unanswered three years later. 

This is bringing the integrity of the office of prime minister into question and it is in the interests of the country as a whole that these allegations are resolved quickly, one way or another.   

  Justice delayed is justice denied.

  The public prosecutor was satisfied that the prime minister was guilty of misconduct in office, which resulted in his referral of the matter to the chief justice for the appointment of a leadership tribunal pursuant to Section 27(2) of the Organic Law on the Duties and Responsibilities of Leadership.

  When a tribunal is to be appointed to inquire in the case of alleged misconduct in office by the prime minister – a special provision applies as to the make-up of the tribunal – which is Section 27(7) (d) of the Organic Law on the Duties and Responsibilities of Leadership, which provides that the chief justice must appoint a tribunal consisting of a chairman and two other members, all of whom must be—

(i)        Judges or former judges of the National Court; or

(ii)       Former Judges of the pre-independence Supreme Court of Papua New Guinea; or

(iii)      Judges or former judges of an equivalent court of a country that has a legal system similar to that of PNG;

  The chief justice does not have discretion as to whether or not he should appoint a tribunal under the Organic Law, once the matter is referred to him by the public prosecutor, he MUST appoint a tribunal.

  This performance of this duty cannot be delayed.

 It is not a difficult or time- consuming task as there is only a limited pool of persons from which the chief justice may appoint the tribunal.

  It is in the interests of justice that this task is performed as quickly as possible so that these allegations may be resolved so that the integrity of the office of prime minister is not further destroyed.  

  It is therefore entirely appropriate that the people demand that the tribunal be appointed within a reasonable time and that means as soon as possible in these circumstances. 

For the attorney general to suggest that the people have no rights to demand quick action, it is not only in breach of the basic principles of democracy but he is clearly playing politics and trying to delay the determination of the allegations of misconduct against the prime minister, which all of PNG has been waiting for.

 We should also remind ourselves that the attorney general and the governor of Madang Sir Arnold Amet is also a member of the National Alliance Party from which the prime minister is a leader of and delivering such statements can only bring the integrity of his office into question.

 There should be a law in the future to make the office of the attorney general be occupied by public servants only and not politicians as such.

It would be also proper for future chief justices not to enter politics because the respect they carry from this high profile office can be easily tainted when they start playing petty politics.


Hon Sam Basil - Opposition MP

Bulolo Open Electorate.


In response to –


Amet: CJ should not be put under pressure


By JOSHUA ARLO – Post Courier


THE CHIEF JUSTICE should never be put under pressure by public demand to appoint a leadership tribunal to look into the alleged misconduct in office by the Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare.  “The process is consultation. That is important given the seniority and importance of the high public office of the Prime Minister,” the Minister for Justice and Attorney-General Sir Arnold Amet said yesterday.  The former Chief Justice, who left the bench seven years ago to pursue a political career, was speaking to Post-Courier in an exclusive interview after the launch of the Department of Justice and Attorney-General’s first ever newsletter. He said the decision to appoint a tribunal was the sole responsibility of the Chief Justice and he must not give in to public demand as the decision needs a lot of consideration, as well as consultation with other judges before he could appoint the tribunal.  An appointment for the tribunal is pending because the Public Prosecutor made the request on the eve of court vacation. The vacation ended last Monday when the 2011 legal year resumed. Sir Michael stepped aside from office after the request was made but recently resumed office and he is expected to step aside again when a tribunal is appointed again.  Sir Arnold also raised two other issues that surrounded the issue of the appointment of a tribunal in relation to office holders which are currently being discussed. “Firstly, a misunderstanding that the Public Prosecutor requested the Chief Justice to appoint a tribunal that didn’t automatically resort to suspend the Prime Minister. And secondly, it is the decision of the tribunal as to whether the Prime Minister should be suspended from office,” he said yesterday.


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