‘Law and You’ will empower the people

Letters, Normal

The National, Friday, June 10th 2011

THANK you for initiating the co­lumn by former judge Graham Ellis – “The Law and You”. 
Knowledge and information is power and, for far too long, ordinary Papua New Guineans have been mistreated and misguided because we do not understand the basics of
the law.
Every single citizen from the youngest to the oldest lives within a complex legal context – with rights, responsibilities, transactions, standards, processes, procedures, the implications of which are often very imperfectly understood, and which are left to the experts.
And when so-called experts interpret it for us, we are charged a fortune.
Primarily, the laws which bind us make up the rules of our society.
The purpose of these laws is to maintain a certain standard of beha­viour in our society in the interests of the common good and understan­ding.
Without such rules, our society would descend into anarchy and chaos.
Secondly, as a general rule, each one of us is bound by the laws of the land, whether or not we are aware of or understand that law.
Ignorance of the law is no excuse for defence.
Laws govern almost every aspect of our lives, and very many responsibi­lities are placed on each of us by these laws.
Society, through the courts, impo­ses punishment on any person for breaking these laws. 
It is essential that we know and understand, at least in a general sense, the nature of these obligations, and the consequences of disobedience.
And while the law gives us responsibilities it also gives us rights, and provides us, through the courts, with a means of enforcing these rights.
Papua New Guineans should all have an awareness of our rights.
Just think of the very many instances of the law providing a path to justice where there is oppression or injustice.
Injustice is endemic and rife worldwide, and the most powerful weapon against this is through the law.
When ordinary citizens understand the law, they appreciate, respect and abide by it.
When ordinary citizens understand the law, they know their rights and what the law can do for them in times of trial and tribulation.
I look forward to the next instalment.

Port Moresby