The National Court, in two separate decisions today, have stayed four government directives. Two against the banning of lawyers Egan and Lambert from entering the country and two against the dismissal of Police officers Gitua and Eluh.
I have not yet been able to ascertain the reasons given for these decisions but I am very concerned with the staying of the disciplinary action against the rogue police officers.
Are the PNG courts fully cognisant of the ramifications of effectively countermanding an internal directive and disciplinary censure of the Commissioner of Police against two of his men?
Section 27 of the Police Force Act states:
The Commissioners decision in respect to the finding of guilt and in respect to penalty for serious discipline charges is final.
And quite rightly so.
One of the primary indicators of a ‘failed state’ is when the government loses control of its disciplinary forces. They are in jeopardy of doing just that as the courts undermine the authority of the Commissioner of Police effectively splitting the force into factions.
What message does this send to the other members of the Police Force as Commissioner Baki tries to improve and control an already problematic police force as far as discipline is concerned?
When people find it necessary to complain about the treatment they received at the hands of the police – maybe they will remember this day and the part the National Courts played in instilling a sense of impunity for undisciplined and rogue behaviour within what can now just laughingly be called the ‘discipline’ forces.
When Judge Kirriwom today referred lawyer Tiffany Twivey to the Law Society for perverting the course of justice he did so on the premise that she had “…signed consent judgment setting aside the warrant of the arrest of Dairi Vele without notifying Detective Chief Inspector Gitua…” (page 30 – Judgment SCM No 87 of 2014).
This is not what she’d done.
Ms Twivey, in fact, signed on 29 July, in the District Court, a consent order for an adjournment that had been requested by the Commissioner of Police (as the warrant was short served).
At the same time she applied for an order staying the execution of the warrant for arrest on the Secretary of the Treasury, Dairi Vele, until the Inter Partes hearing that was set for 25th August. This merely served to maintain the status quo until then.
The fact that there had been a change of name from the original matter – one that had replaced Gitua with the Royal PNG Constabulary, the Judge saw as sinister – because removing Gitua as a party to the proceedings had kept him in the dark.
Well maybe – but not for long.
For on July 30, the day after the granting of the adjournment, Detective Chief Inspector Gitua was served with notice by Twivey – not of the setting aside of the warrant (as stated by Kirriwom) but of the adjournment and the temporary staying of the arrest warrant until August 25.
In his affidavit of 7 August, Chief Superintendent Damaru, indicated in paragraph 7, that he understood the stay order was a temporary measure leading up to the hearing on 25 August – however, the learned Judge seems to have believed (as stated – see first paragraph) that the warrant had been ‘set aside’ – suggesting something far more permanent.
Today (August 25) notwithstanding the ample notice, neither Gitua nor Damaru were present when the requested adjournment was granted (until 22 September). The adjournment was sought and granted due to the replacement of Sam Bonner as the counsel for the Commissioner of Police (with Nicholas Tame) giving time for the Police Commissioner to brief his new lawyers.
The adjournment gives Gitua another opportunity to present himself and his case to this hearing should he care to.
It must be noted that in all of these proceedings, the Police Commissioner has not indicated whether he will consent (or not) to the application made to stay the arrest warrant of Vele.
Under the circumstances, the criticism from the bench that: “He [the Commissioner of Police] has no qualms …in collaborating and cooperating with …Marape and Prime Minister O’Neill,” seems to be a trifle unfair.
Besides, this judgment completely ignores the Supreme Court Reference, five-man bench decision that says the Police Commissioner has the right to withdraw any warrant of arrest or the right to direct any officer to withdraw a warrant of arrest.
It is an option, that the Commissioner of Police; he who is accused of collaborating and cooperating with the Prime Minister and Finance Minister; has not even exercised.
Twivey was, in this matter, acting on behalf of Prime Minister Peter O’Neill in the case against police officers Gitua and Damaru and their right to hire private lawyers. Sam Bonner, former counsel to the Commissioner of Police was also referred to the Law Society on the same matter.
It’s official. Deputy Chief Justice, Sir Gibbs Salika, is the darling of PNGs social media (and the mainstream press seems equally impressed.)
Lately, to a wave of public approval, he’s handed down a guilty verdict on the cases of Governor Havilo Kavo – Gulf Province, Member of Parliament for Komo-Magarima, Francis Potape, Former Minister for National Planning and Pomio MP, Paul Tiensten, Commissioner of Police, Tom Kulunga and this week he hit the approval jackpot with his conviction of Jimmy Maladina over the NPF scandal 17 years ago.
October 2 Waigani: PNG Supreme Court in its recent judgement has reinforced the powers of the Commissioner of Police who it has stated is responsible for organization, superintendence and control of the Police Force.
The judgment emphasized that, as a disciplinary force, the duty of a police officer was to obey orders of superiors – top of the command chain being the Commissioner of Police.
So, no, a police officer can’t run his own race according to whim, personal prejudices or how he chooses to interpret the constitution…. and thank goodness for that – the alternative is a recipe for anarchy! RPNGC would need to be renamed, the undisciplined force. The learned Justices of the Supreme Court would never sanction such a notion.
PNG Echo is officially back to work after the Christmas break.
With so many things of import occurring in early January, it proved a bit of a ‘Clayton’s’ break. What happened to the usual practice of Papua New Guniean MPs exiting the country for the summer break and only returning in February for the first sitting of parliament (and sometimes not even that soon)?
Early January saw a dangerous political manoeuvre by the Opposition Leader (were the Casinos closed?) as he insisted on arrest warrants, sworn out at the end of 2013 (of which no one was aware), be carried through on Prime Minister Peter O’Neill, Treasurer, Don Polye and Minister for Finance, James Marape.
The arrest warrants cut across an ongoing investigation into the same matter being carried out by Investigation Task Force Sweep (TFS) and were contrary to the directions of Tom Kulunga, Commissioner of Police.
In fact the arrests were poised to seriously jeopardize the investigation of the TFS by pre-empting their inquiries. The arrests were ill-conceived and would have been premature had they gone ahead.