A-G Defends Judiciary
By : Post Courier
Judges of the courts cannot defend themselves in the public domain and as such their integrity and independence in the administration of justice must be protected at all cost.
Attorney-General Davis Steven said yesterday the people’s confidence and respect for the judiciary remained critical for the rule of law to prevail in PNG.
“As a first step, I am calling on public commentators and publishers in social and mainstream media to show restraint in commenting on matters that are sub judice.
“If in doubt, they must seek legal advice. I am sure that they will be advised that the courts have powers to punish anyone who exceeds the limits,” Mr Steven said.
Mr Steven’s remarks follow what he called were unfounded comments on many occasions over pending legal matters and attack on Judges.
“I am concerned by ease with which many citizens in our social media and mainstream media are attacking individual Judges and analysing and even preempting disputes that are pending before the courts,” Mr Steven said.
“The judges cannot defend themselves in the public domain. That is my role as the Attorney-General and lawyers, the officers of the courts.
“I am considering steps to raise awareness on this matter but I will not hesitate to prosecute commentators for contempt of court where it is warranted.
“These punitive and arbitrary powers are not frequently used by our judges in this jurisdiction, but the Constitution recognises and allows it in order for the Courts to protect the integrity of their processes and to protect the rights of citizens whose issues are in proceedings before them.”
He said the independence and integrity of Judges and judicial processes were core to the rule of law and administration of justice.
He said the majority of the people look to the judiciary, the third arm of Government as the final bastion against corruption, encroachment of rights and liberties and atrocious conduct by public authorities.
“Remove the courts and imagine what it will be like in our country. No citizen wants a nation where people resort to violence and thuggery to resolve disputes. Chaos, injustice and suffering abound daily in nations everywhere around us where people have chosen to depart from respect for authorities and the rule of law.
“We must not take our freedoms and relative peaceful life for granted,” he said.
Mr Steven said he has written to all constitutional office holders including members of Parliament to encourage them to do their part to preserve the sanctity of the judiciary regardless of individual opinions.