All districts should have magistrates


THE National’s front page of May 26 “Special court for GBV cases” shows negligence on the part of the Magisterial Services.
The chief magistrate’s comment that he has not filled up the 42 vacant positions because “we didn’t want mediocrity in our ranks” is short-sighted and arrogant.
The chief magistrate and the Magisterial Services has miserably failed to address this issue by recruiting and placing magistrates in all districts to enable the bulk of the population to access justice.
Previously, there were magistrates serving in all districts, which made justice accessible.
Currently, there are no magistrates in most of the districts, hence, denying the people access to justice.
The current management of the Magisterial Service talked about recruiting magistrates with masters and PhDs, which is good for Port Moresby, Lae and other main centres where you have lawyers appearing in district courts.
What about court houses in districts such as Bulolo, Kainantu, Aitape-Lumi, Misima, Namatanai, North Fly, Middle Ramu, Maprik, Sumkar, Ialibu-Pangia and Finschhafen?
Parties represent themselves in civil cases, family court and land court and all they need is a magistrate to be on the ground.
We need magistrates to be in all districts so that civil and criminal cases, including gender-based violence (GBV) cases could be attended to quickly. The Magisterial Services does not belong to Port Moresby, Lae and other main centres only.
It belongs to the people of this country, the taxpayers.
The Magisterial Services should serve the entire country.
It should partner with MPs and district development authorities to provide legal services to the people, giving priority to land court and GBV cases.
Parties to land disputes all over the country are still waiting for their cases to be heard and while the Magisterial Services is dragging its feet on that, they are fighting and killing each other.
Why does it have to take a special parliamentary committee to point out what the Magisterial Services and the justice sector already know is lacking yet have done nothing to strengthen the existing systems to address GBV.
The chief magistrate and his deputies are long-serving magistrates who were elevated to the top post and they ought to appreciate these problems and find ways to address these problems, especially land court and GBV.
The parliamentary committee should do another inquiry to scrutinise the operation of the Magisterial Services.

Justice Denied