Friday, November 11, 2011

How it works in PNG

Last year, Papua New Guinea's Acting Prime Minister Sam Abal was ousted in a confidence vote. The vote has been challenged as unconstitutional, and last month the case finally got underway. Last week there were rumours that the government was planning to remove the Chief Justice in order to prevent the case from being decided against them. The government not only denied these rumours - it urged that those spreading them be prosecuted for contempt of court. So, guess what's just happened? That's right: the Chief Justice has been suspended:

The Papua New Guinea government has suspended the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, a month before he was to deliver a verdict on the legitimacy of Prime Minister Peter O’Neill’s election.

The Herald Sun online reports the government suspended Sir Salamo Injia yesterday, citing a police report that he is facing charges of breaching a contempt order in a previous case, and mismanaging court finances.

In a statement, the deputy prime minister, Belden Namah, said a tribunal of former judges would investigate the allegations against Sir Salamo.

I have no idea about the allegations, but given the background, this smells very bad indeed. It looks an awful lot like a government interfering in the courts in order to prevent a judgement against it. But I guess that's just how things work in our local banana republic.