By WALLACE KIALA
THE magisterial service does not have enough magistrates to effectively serve the country’s 70 district courts, Chief Magistrate John Numapo highlighted yesterday.
Mr Numapo said this during a media briefing in Port Moresby when commending the magisterial service for winning the 2009 PNG law and justice sector agency of the year award.
He said while there were manpower problems, coupled with the need to replace magistrates who had reached retirement age, there had been less intervention by the Government to address this.
Mr Numapo said there had been little input from government agencies despite promises to improve the magisterial service manpower capacity.
The magisterial service budget for next year is K28 million, K8 million less than what was asked for.
“The magisterial service has an ageing workforce and suitable and experienced lawyers must join the bench as district court magistrates.
“Our recruitment drive during the past five years has not been successful,” Mr Numapo said.
He said it was hard to attract good lawyers to become magistrates because the terms and conditions, including the salary package, were not attractive enough.
“The problems and difficulties we are facing will continue unless the Government acts immediately,” Mr Numapo said.
Only three magistrates were recruited this year.
While the current staff ceiling for magistrates is 130, there were only 90 magistrates, out of whom eight are retiring at the end of the year.
The Magisterial Service won this year’s award for its involvement in the family and sexual violence programme, to develop practice directions on interim protection orders for victims of family and sexual violence under the coordination of a team of female magistrates and support of the registrar and other support staff.
Mr Numapo acknowledged the support of police, department of Justice and Attorney-general, Ombudsman Commission and Public Solicitor and other agencies that are co-partners of the law and justice sector secretariat.