6 Apr 2012

Disappointment over PNG government suspension of Chief Justice

10:37 am on 6 April 2012

Papua New Guinea's government is facing mounting opposition over its move to suspend the Chief Justice, Sir Salamo Injia ,and another top judge yesterday.

The move came after Sir Salamo rejected an application to disqualify himself from hearing ongoing Supreme Court references on the government's legitimacy.

Johnny Blades reports

"In suspending the Chief Justice over misconduct allegations, the government invoked the controversial new Judicial Conduct Law which it rushed through parliament two weeks ago. The law gives government the power to suspend judges and pompted widespread criticism from the legal sector, non-government MPs, church groups, trade unions and tertiary students. Nearly three thousand University of PNG students marched to parliament two weeks ago in opposition to government's attempts to control the judiciary. In response, the prime Minister Peter O'Neill last week said the Law would be deferred for nine months while it comes under review. However the government moved quickly to remove Sir Salamo after the new Law was certified, and student leader Nou Vada says they are now considering another large protest action"

We're all disappointed with the government, the decision of the government to use this law. As one student leader went up and said a few moments ago, the Prime Minister

Meanwhile in parliament, opposition leader Dame Carol Kidu has warned that PNG faces an uncertain future with parliament now having ultimate authority over the judiciary, an institution which had been the most robust arm of PNG's democratic system since the country gained independence in 1975.