Court: Students must sign entry form

The National,Thursday June 23rd, 2016

The National Court has rejected an application by Students Representative Council president Kenneth Rapa to restrain the University of PNG students sign an agreement to resume classes.
Justice David Cannings, in a ruling yesterday, refused to grant an interim order sought by Rapa because the court was not fully satisfied that the human rights of students would be breached if they signed the “reaffirmation registration form.”
Cannings said there was not enough evidence before the court at this stage to grant the interim restraining orders against the UPNG administration.
He also said there was no evidence that students were being forced by the university administration to sign the form to return to class.
Cannings said the refusal of the interim order did not mean that the Rapa’s case had no prospect of succeding.
The court directed the parties to return on Wednesday for a one-day trial to hear arguments on the substantive issue of whether the “Reaffirmation registration form” was an illegal document.
Lawyer Laken Aigilo, who represented Rapa, asked the court to grant the interim orders because a section of the form stated that they would be excluded from studies if they took part in an unrest or boycott.
Aigilo said that these terms of the agreement form was unnecessary because it infringed on their human rights under the constitution which included freedom of conscience, thought and freedom of assembly and association.
He said the form restricted students from raising future issues that may arise.
He said that some students had returned to class but they wanted their rights to remain.
Cannings then asked Aigilo to show evidence that students had returned to class. Aigilo, in response, relied on an affidavit filed by first respondent and Registrar Jennifer Popat which stated that students had returned to class.
Lawyer Peter Koroag, representing Popat and the UPNG administration, asked the court to refuse the interim injunction because the form did not restrict the rights of students.
Koroag explained that the form was part of an administrative approach taken by the university to determine the number of students who were willing to return to class.