By the Leader of the Opposition, Dame Carol Kidu
The Constitution and an Independent Judiciary have been critical factors that have held over 800 tribes together as a nation until now. The fundamental principles of democracy are enshrined in our Constitution and the separation of powers is one of those fundamental principles.
If a Judge is thought to be out of line in his/her conduct then certainly he/she should face the consequences as would any citizen but to put the Parliament and NEC above the judiciary is completely unacceptable. It seems that there is now a higher threshold of scrutiny for judges than for politicians – one could question which of the two groups of people are trusted and respected more by the people of PNG.
To bring judges under the scrutiny of Parliament and NEC when they are already under the scrutiny of the Ombudsman Commission will directly compromise the separation of powers as enshrined in our constitution. From that point alone, this proposed Bill would surely be unconstitutional and should NOT have been entertained by Parliament.
It is typical knee-jerk legislation that has resulted from the incumbent government’s desire to remove certain individuals from the Bench. Legislation should not be drafted to remove particular individuals from positions, in the public service and now the proposed Bill will do the same to the Judiciary. There are processes already in place to remove people from public positions if their conduct is in question.
The argument that this legislation is to protect the judiciary is ludicrous – perhaps the word should be to control the judiciary or to intimidate the judiciary. This is now legislating the constant statement that Parliament is supreme – a statement that I have constantly qualified. Parliament is the supreme legislator but this does not make Parliament or Parliamentarians in themselves supreme. The Constitution is supreme and if there are problems with the Constitution (as there are) then amend the Constitution don’t undermine it.
I would challenge the Government to now draft a Parliamentary Conduct Bill 2012 and let us have the judges scrutinise the conduct of Parliamentarians according to a long list of criteria.
- Download the Judicial Conduct Bill 2012