By OSEAH PHILEMON
LAW enforcement officers in Lae and Morobe province have been challenged to uphold the integrity of the offices they hold in enforcing the law and maintaining law and order in the community.
The challenge was issued by Justice Nicholas Kirriwom in an address to a police guard of honour outside the Lae court house to mark the start of the 2010 legal year.
Judge Kirriwom, who is leaving Lae for the Waigani Court, told police his message for this year was that they maintain commitment and dedication to their work and uphold the integrity of their office.
He made reference to the recent escape of the 12 prisoners from the maximum security section of the Bomana jail saying the escape was the result of officers not upholding the integrity of their offices.
At the All Souls Anglican church Judge Kirriwom addressed lawyers, magistrates, police and court staff if law enforcement officers are not committed to their work the rule of law will not prevail.
Judge Kirriwom said four or six years ago he addressed members of the legal profession and his message for that year was on the accessibility of the courts and the legal profession to every citizen in all walks of life.
With improved education and rapid urbanisation more and more citizens want to seek legal services in every facet of their life, he said.
Judge Kirriwom said the complexities in legal disputes are escalating in large volumes and the race to reach the courts for hearing has many people gasping for breath.
“The price of justice has gotten so dear that those with money always fare better than those who cannot meet the high costs of lawyers and litigation,” Judge Kirriwom told the legal fraternity.
He noted that there had been some improvement since.
He said there are some notable improvements such as in the Office of the Public Solicitor which for the first time last year has its own budget and increased staffing and funding to broaden its scope of operation in the provision of legal services to the remote locations in many parts of PNG.
“Steps are underway to give similar autonomy to the Public Prosecutor,” he said.
“These are two very important constitutional law offices that are responsible for the wheels of justice to roll in the courts in criminal litigation,” Judge Kirriwom said.
Judge Kirriwom said he had observed from the courtroom on the appearance of lawyers from the two offices that there had been a steady increase in the number of lawyers in both offices in Lae.
He said the numbers are enough to mount three crime courts sitting simultaneously in Lae Courts.
Judge Kirriwom said this was a development that had only been a “wishful dream for the last nine years” that he had served in Lae.