Judge: Govt breached rights

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THE National Court in Waigani has found the Government liable for breaching human rights in the case of a policeman who unlawfully detained a woman for a day in a police lockup without a formal arrest or charge.
Justice David Cannings last week ordered a trial on assessment of damages against Sgt Phillip Kuimo and the Government after ruling that there was vicarious liability for human rights breaches committed against Lowaiye Mindili in 2010.
Eleven years after filing the suit, Mindili succeeded in obtaining a default judgment against Sgt Kuimo who went to Mindili’s house in Imbonggu’s Komakul village in Southern Highlands in the early hours of July 27, 2010. Sgt Kuimo verbally abused and assaulted her before taking her against her will to Ialibu police station, detained her for 24hours without a formal arrest or charge, denying her medical treatment for serious injuries.
Cannings then set a trial to determine the liability of then Commissioner of Police Gary Baki (second respondent) and the Government (third respondent). In the trial, Mindili’s lawyer abandoned the claim against Baki, so the question of vicarious liability of the Government was the only issue for determination.
The Government argued that it had no liability as it was neither adequately pleaded nor proven that it was vicariously liable.
Justice Cannings held that it was proven on the balance of probabilities that Mindili’s allegations of fact were true.
“I find it proven on the balance of probabilities that Mindili’s allegation of fact are true, including that Sgt Kuimo committed human rights breaches against her in the course of his employment and while purporting to perform police functions,” he added.