An Overview by Nou Vada, The Bill Review Committee Chairman at UPNG
1. There is great ambiguity – key words like “Impropriety” are not defined.
2. It is not clear whether the Bill extends to the administrative conduct of members of Judiciary
3. The Bill lets Parliamentarians become the Judge of Character for members of the Judiciary. Parliamentarians? Judge of Character?? Really???
4. Individual Parliamentarians can use this Bill to evade criminal prosecution by removing any Judge that he feels will not judge him favourably.
5. Parliament itself can use this law to tamper with Supreme Court References in the future by deciding the composition of any Supreme Court Bench presiding over a constitutional reference.
6. While this law is an attempt to clean up perceived Judicial Corruption currently in existence, the fact of the matter is that politicians will come and go, and Judges too will come and go, but this law will be permanent and perpetual in nature.
7. Countries like Canada and Australia do not give Parliament the power to remove Judges from active duty.
8. Judges are already subject to the Leadership Code. The Ombudsman Commission has the power to investigate Judges.
9. The bill is retrospective in nature. Is this the true purpose of law-making? Is this law a witch-hunt against one or two Judges? If so, as it appears to be, then is this law really in the National Interest? Should the removal of one or two Judges currently serving be of so much importance that it warrants the creation of a law that is permanent in nature?
10. To what extent can does this Bill restrict the right of Privacy? The restriction of the Right of Privacy in conjunction with a Tribunal that no-one knows who appoints and how and that has the power to inform itself and do away with legal formalities and rules of evidence. So one may ask, is this Tribunal sanctioned to carry out espionage. Will this Tribunal in the course of informing itself with the disregard of the Right to Privacy, end up spying on Judges?
These are questions and sentiments that arise when no consultation takes place and when important and highly sensitive pieces of legislation are passed on the floor of Parliament in 15 minutes. This are the ambiguities, discrepancies and gray areas that arise when such a critical and sensitive law is only two A4 pages
These are the views of the University of Papua New Guinea students of the Academic Year 2012. We fight a law that defeats law. If Today we allow them to make this law, tomorrow they throw us out into the streets and out into the Darkness of Neon Lights and the confusion and disillusionment… and what of our children. We fight this law because we feel this law will mark the dawn of an aggressive Police State where the Judiciary will fear a Legislature already dominated by the whims of the Executive. We fight this law because we see it as the first fateful step into a guided democracy. Mr. O’Neill must repeal this Bill.
“Ignorance of the Law is no excuse”
- Section 23 Criminal Code