By MALUM NALU
PAST criminal records of candidates will be scrutinised, says Electoral Commissioner Patilias Gamato.
He told The National yesterday that the commission would carefully check those with criminal records and accept or reject them.
Gamato also appealed to members of the public who knew the criminal backgrounds of candidates to report them to the commission.
“For those who have past criminal records, we will certainly check them and accept or reject them, but we do not know everyone’s criminal records,” he said. “If they (candidates) indicate (their criminal record) on the form when nominating, we can check with police.
“Other people who might also know these people (candidates) as having criminal records should come forward and inform us to check out.”
Registrar of Political Parties Dr Alphonse Gelu recently admitted that there were no laws stopping those with past criminal records from contesting the 2017 national election.
“Currently we don’t (have any such laws),” Gelu said.
“This is something where the power (to accept or reject) lies with the PNG Electoral Commission.”
Gelu said under the Revised Organic Law on Integrity of Political Parties and Candidates (OLIPPAC), which was yet to be passed by Parliament, the registry was trying to take those powers from the Electoral Commission “because we deal with candidates”.
“One of the features of the Revised Organic Law is that when it comes to the listing of candidates by political parties, they (parties) have to send it to us first, we have to vet it and from there we submit it to the Electoral Commission,” Gelu said.
“Once the Revised Organic Law is passed, that will be the process.
“Once that is passed, we will move onto the next level, and be able to address that situation.
“We cannot allow felons to contest for public office.
“If you serve in prison for more than a particular time, then you will not be eligible to contest for public office.
“Those people who have committed an offence and have served more than nine months or whatever, you must know yourself, and don’t push your luck.
“We have to come out and tell the people that.”
By MALUM NALU