PNG Bishops condemn Judicial Conduct Bill

The Catholic church expressed “disbelief and shock” after parliament yesterday passed the Judicial Conduct Bill 2012 into law.

The law, introduced on Tuesday and passed three times by a vote of 63-7 on Wednesday, gave parliament the power to refer a judge to the governor-general who, in turn, must appoint a tribunal to investigate the judge who would be suspended from duty.

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands general-secretary Fr Victor Roche said churches “opposed the bill in the strongest possible terms”.

He said the government had not taken the right direction in its decision to pass the Judicial Conduct Bill. Roche said despite the government having the majority to rule, “the decision further fails to serve the interest of every Papua New Guinean”.

He said the National and Supreme Courts were the highest lawmaking body and it was not good to suppress them. Any country that “suppresses the conduct of judges of the National and Supreme Courts is in big trouble”.

Roche said there was not enough time for non-governmental organisations, churches and public to gauge their views through a public debate on the law before it was passed.

He said they were pleased with opposition leader Dame Carol Kidu for opposing the Judicial Conduct Bill.

Transparency International (PNG) has also condemned the parliamentarians who voted for the Judicial Conduct Bill.

Chairman Lawrence Stephens said the good governance watchdog was horrified at the manner in which the legislation was rushed through parliament.

“This act by the members of the parliament is an attack to the rights of Papua New Guineans,” he said. “The bill now passed by the national parliament will control and suppress the conduct of judges of the National and Supreme Courts.”


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News category: Asia Pacific.

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