By PNG Echo.
Supreme Court, Waigani, 30 July 2014:
Justice, David, Hartshorn and Sawong were today unanimous in their decision to grant Finance Minister, James Marape an interim injunction restraining his arrest by any member of the RPNGC.
The outcome was not unexpected as all four responding parties, Prime Minister, Paul Paraka, RPNGC and Independent State of PNG consented to the appeal of Finance Minister Marape for the interim injunction.
However, what was not widely foreshadowed was how strongly the divisions apparent within the ranks of the police force affected the outcome of the appeal (that in different circumstances may have been decided otherwise, according to the decision) and how the Judges, in their summation, tacitly endorsed and supported the leadership of the new Police Commissioner, Geoffrey Vaki.
We have […] heard submissions from counsel for the applicant, the Royal Constabulary, the Prime Minister and the State, which to say the least, are disturbing, distressing and saddening,
They went on to mention their specific concerns which included: the assault of lawyer acting for the Acting Police Commissioner (Sam Bonner) “in the precincts of this court,” the two charges brought against the Acting Police Commissioner by other police and the situation whereby the orders issued by the Acting Police Commissioner to members of the RPNGC had been ignored.
All this “…had created animosity and division amongst members of the police force,” the court stated, and it was agreed that the Acting Police Commissioner needed time to restore the integrity and reputation of his office and also the RPNGC generally.
It was in this context, that the court decided it had no confidence that any arrest of the Finance Minister, carried out while the RPNGC was in such a state, would be in accordance with the law and not motivated by “improper reasons” of one or more RPNGC members.
“No citizen of this country, regardless of any position that he may hold, should have to live in fear of such treatment from a supposedly disciplined force,” was the court’s final point before granting Marape’s application.