Monday, February 28, 2011

Chief justice must resign, says opposition

Namah calls for Injia's resignation


Amidst serious dissent within Papua New Guinea's judiciary over the appointment of foreign judges to deal with prime minister Sir Michael Somare's alleged misconduct charges, chief justice Sir Salamo Injia has been called on to quit his job.

Leader of PNG Party and Vanimo/Green MP Belden Namah said that in PNG's national interest, Sir Salamo should resign because he had no trust and confidence in his fellow indigenous National and Supreme Court judges to hear Sir Michael's alleged misconduct charges.

"Sir Salamo's unilateral decision to appoint foreign judges to the prime minister's leadership tribunal is an insult to the intelligence and capabilities of our most loyal, dedicated and learned judges," Namah said.

"It is an act of disturbing distrust and no confidence in the current serving judges, who are held with highest esteem by the wider PNG community.

"It is not only an act of distrust, but undermining the profound statue of the very judges who uphold the integrity and independence of the judiciary - the third arm of government.

"By having no faith, trust and confidence in PNG's very own judges, the office of the chief justice has been brought to disrepute, thereby demeaning that office.

"It is no wonder that many judges were angered because there were no consultations among the judges."

On February 21.  2011, Sir Salamo named three pre-eminent retired judges: Australian Roger Gyles as chairman of the tribunal with members, New Zealander Sir Bruce Robertson and British Sir Robin Auld to Sir Michael's leadership tribunal.

Namah said he respected the three eminent judges, but was concerned of PNG's own judges not consulted and considered to be on the tribunal.

As well, he noted with concern the comments by a senior judge, who wanted to remain anonymous that "the decision to overlook our own judges is open to all manner of justifiable criticisms"

"It is justifiable for people to think that our judges are incompetent, biased and bribable.

"I feel insulted - what can the appointed members (of the leadership tribunal) do that I can't?" the judge said.

Namah said the comments by the senior judge were very serious and should not be taken lightly and simply swept under the carpet and forgotten.

"This is because it is generally accepted in PNG that if the other two arms of the government, the executive government and legislature (parliament) are non-functional, the judiciary remains the nation's beacon of hope" he said.

"That hope, trust and confidence of the judiciary is now seriously eroded to the point that the general public is asking whether or not the judiciary has become a rubber stamp of the current Somare government.

"With that backdrop, it is proper for the honorable chief justice to voluntarily resign in PNG's long-term national interest and restore the confidence of the third arm of government."

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