By OSEAH PHILEMON
AN independent judiciary and an independent legal profession stand synonymously side by side to ensure the survival of Papua New Guinea as an independent nation, Justice Nicholas Kirriwom said in Lae yesterday.
He told the legal fraternity that the judiciary in PNG had been repeatedly hailed as the last bastion of hope for the survival of the country as an independent nation.
This view, he said, was shared not only by the ordinary people, but has also been repeated and stressed by bureaucrats and politicians of eminent standing both in private and public life.
“Similar views are also supported everywhere in this region and elsewhere where democracy rules and the rule of law prevails,” Justice Kirriwom said in his keynote address at a special church service to mark the start of the 2010 legal year in Lae.
“An independent legal profession always ensures that the judiciary shall not be touched or corrupted in any shape or form.”
Judge Kirriwom said recent newspaper reports and articles, especially the editorial in The National last week, showed that the legal profession was already losing its credibility and respect, when cases before the courts are subject to rough-neck tactics outside court to weaken or defeat an opponent by such unorthodox methods.
“The legal profession is becoming a threat to the judiciary’s independence.
“When lawyers do not respect due process and the impartiality of the court system to deliver a fair and just result following an independent arbitration and determination of the issues presented before the courts and impartial judges, the judiciary is at risk of corruption.
“Frequency of litigations calling for disqualification of judges hearing their cases on spurious and baseless grounds amounting to disrespect and insult of judges raised very serious concerns on the issue of independence.
“Who do the courts turn to when lawyers jump in the clients’ bandwagon and resort to illegal
means to fight their clients’ or their own cases before the courts?” the judge said.
He said upholding the integrity of the legal profession and the independence of the judiciary “starts and finishes with those who have chosen to make law as their profession to nest in it and cherish it to serve them and mankind”.
“When they fail in their role, no one is safe, nor is the judiciary,”he said.