By CHARLES MOI
PRIME Minister Peter O’Neill says the judiciary is “at the pinnacle of respect” in Papua New Guinea.
He told chief justices and senior judges from Pacific island nations attending a week-long Pacific Judicial Conference at the International Convention Centre in Port Moresby, that the people must also have the ability to understand the law.
“Our judiciary, our courts have a very demanding role to play both in criminal and civil legal processes,” he said.
“These roles are performed at times in a very difficult circumstances, and mostly demanding, across many of our nations in the Pacific.”
O’Neill said some judges and courts were permanently located in remote areas which meant that members of the judiciary worked in relatively small and isolated communities.
“Our people have taken to the courts to resolve many of their differences, not only in their lives but also sometimes political differences,” O’Neill said.
“It has to be done with respect and understanding that, through the courts, the decision is final.”
He said one of the important aspects of society should be about the judicial and legal education of the people.
“I welcome suggestions from the judiciary and the legal profession on steps our Government might take to strengthen legal education in our universities,” he said.
“Now, we also live in the era of modern communications, and this has enormous implications for the Government and the judiciary.
“I know the chief justice has sought, as I have done, to engage through modern communications and respond to requests for public information.
“I believe we should all regard this as more of an opportunity than a challenge.
“It is an opportunity to better educate and inform our citizens on the basics of how we are governed.”
O’Neill said one of the great challenges of today was how to manage and respond to the rapid advancement of society as far as communication was concerned.
“Papua New Guinea (has) seen the most dramatic expansion in the use of smart phones right across the nation and the use of things like Facebook and the internet,” the prime minister said.
By CHARLES MOI