21 Mar 2012

PNG parliamentarians consider major curbs on judges

4:36 pm on 21 March 2012

The government of Papua New Guinea has introduced a bill giving it the power to effectively suspend judges.

The Judicial Conduct Bill 2012, scheduled for debate later today, will give PNG's parliament the power to direct the governor-general, Sir Michael Ogio, to appoint a tribunal to investigate judges.

Under the law, judges under investigation would be suspended from duty.

The government has recently locked horns with the nation's chief justice, Sir Salamo Injia, over allegations the Supreme Court veteran mishandled funds belonging to the family of a dead judge.

The court has quashed the police case against Sir Salamo and deputy prime minister Belden Namah called on him and two other judges to resign.

The government says the law will promote the integrity of the PNG legal system based on the principle that an independent, fair and competent judiciary shall interpret and apply the laws that govern the country.

The tribunal itself has been granted broad powers, with the right to make due inquiry into any matter referred to it without regard to legal formalities or the rules of evidence.