Hopes case of jailed PNG police commissioner will spur change
The head of Transparency International in PNG says he hopes the case surrounding former police commissioner Geoffrey Vaki will bring some much needed change to the country's anti-corruption systems.
The head of Transparency International in Papua New Guinea says he hopes the case surrounding former police commissioner Geoffrey Vaki will bring some much needed change to the country's anti-corruption systems.
Geoffrey Vaki was last week sentenced to three years in jail for obstructing an arrest warrant issued against the Prime Minister, Peter O'Neill, last year.
His sentence is believed to be one of the highest ever for contempt in the country.
Lawrence Stephens says the case has highlighted areas for improvement, but it's also shown that overall, the legal system in PNG works, and gives confidence that justice can be done.
LAWRENCE STEPHENS: What we're observing is that we have a legal system and the legal system has kicked in as one would hope and the actions of the police commissioner were examined and he has been found to be wanting and as a result has been sentenced by the court, all of which speaks highly of our system. It means the system can respond and does respond, and it gives confidence to the people of Papua New Guinea that justice can be seen to be done.
JAMIE TAHANA: This whole saga around the Paraka payments scandal isn't over yet though, I mean we've still got Taskforce Sweeps investigation currently pending a judicial review, but the sentencing must give you hope?
LS: Ah, Jamie the Paraka lawyers case and many other cases still need a lot of action and there's a lot of concern that there is insufficient action, and there's huge concern that people use the legal system to tie up the country in knots whilst they proceed to get away with what they want to get away with. But we do have hope that there will be change as a result of the current verdict that the police will be encouraged, that the finance inquiry people will be encouraged and that we'll see more action taking place.
JT: While you say there's areas that can be strengthened, what can we take away from this?
LS: Take away the reality that we have institutions all of which are independent, all of which are arms of government, all of which are governed by the constitution and that they are not subject to direction of any other party. So any person who is the police commissioner, and you may recall this has happened in the past, is not subject even to the directions of the police minister, police commissioners and individual police officers have responsibilities to behave independently and are not directed by politicians or other public officials to do anything. Similarly, you can't give instructions to the judges, similarly you can't give instructions to the public solicitor, public prosecutor. These are independent constitutional offices and this reality is being re-established by decisions like that made in the case of the police commissioner.
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