18 Apr 2012

PNG government introduces amendment to Judicial Conduct Act

9:29 am on 18 April 2012

Papua New Guinea's O'Neill government has introduced in parliament an amendment to the Judicial Conduct Act that outlines a new criminal offence for judges.

Under the amendment, a judge who ignores a suspension by parliament can be sentenced to up to seven years in prison and lose all retirement benefits.

This comes amid an ongoing standoff between the government and the judiciary related to the political impasse between the government and the political faction of veteran leader sir Michael Somare who claims to still be Prime Minister.

The government recently ordered the suspension of Chief Justice Sir Salamo Injia under the controversial new Judicial Conduct Law which gives the executive the power to suspend judges for alleged misconduct.

Sir Salamo, who has been presiding over a series of constitutional references on the legality of Peter O'Neill's parliamentary election as Prime Minister last August, refused to stand down from his duties.

Meanwhile, the government has also introduced into parliament the Supreme Court Amendment Bill 2012

This amendment would render as "null and void" the Supreme Court's order from last December that Sir Michael be reinstated as Prime Minister.

The amendment will also prevent the court from making consequential orders and interim injunctions during what's known as section 19 references.