By ZACHERY PER
SOME district court magistrates in the country are serving under unfavourable terms and conditions of employment, Kainantu District Court magistrate Felix Terra says.
Magistrate Terra said some of the conditions included not having decent accommodation and means of transportation.
He said these could put magistrates’ lives and well-being at risk given the nature of their work.
Magistrate Terra said this at a farewell gathering for retiring magistrate Gerard Vetunawa in Goroka last week.
“Many magistrates in the country are living in settlements or in private accommodation while facing risks when handling serious cases,” he said.
Magistrate Terra said his colleague (Vetunawa) had lived and served in Goroka since 1989 without accommodation and transport but was fortunate to live with his family at the University of Goroka as his wife Helen was a lecturer.
He said Magistrate Vetunawa was not given a vehicle and found his own way to the court house, sometimes walking to work and back home.
“We (magistrates) dispense justice and need to be protected like the National and Supreme Court judges,” he said.
Magistrate Terra said he was fortunate as he had bought a house before he became magistrate, but, still used his own vehicle to travel to work.
He said they heard cases involving serious crimes such as murder, rape, armed robbery and vehicle accidents and these posed risks for magistrates.
Meanwhile, Magistrate Vetunawa was recognised for his work by his colleagues as well as the district office.
He was acknowledged for his service by local MP Aiye Tambua and presented K10,000 to him as a token of appreciation from the district for his 32 years of service.
Magistrate Vetunawa and his wife came to Goroka on Jan 23, 1989, and stayed for over three decades.
Their daughters, Cynthia and Hazel, were born in the Eastern Highlands capital.
Magistrate Vetunawa described Goroka as the “best place to live” in PNG, and after first arriving, he had never wanted to leave.
Goroka District Court Magistrate Josephine Nidue thanked Tambua and his district office for recognising the work of one of the country’s long-serving magistrates.
By ZACHERY PER