Soldier’s discharge from force was unlawful: Judge

National, Normal


WAIGANI National Court Judge David Cannings ruled last Friday that Joshua Haina was unlawfully discharged by the PNG Defence Force about 13 years ago.
Mr Haina, who enlisted in the force in August 1990, was on a tour of duty during the Bougainville crisis when he was discharged on March 31, 1997, for being absent without official leave.
At that time, Mr Haina held the rank of Private and was attached to Alpha Company, Second Royal Pacific Island Regiment, Moem barracks in Wewak, East Sepik province.
Aggrieved by this, Mr Haina applied for and was granted leave to seek a judicial review of the decision.
Mr Haina sought the review on three grounds, of which two were considered by the court. He argued:
* Procedures in the Code of Military Discipline providing for a member being discharged and given a hearing were not adhered to; and
* He was denied natural justice.
Justice Cannings said the Commander and appropriate authorities had a duty to be fair but failed to comply and Mr Haina’s discharge was in violation of the principles of natural justice and therefore unlawful.
He ordered damages to be paid to Mr Haina for loss of entitlements, inconvenience, distress, hardship, embarrassment and difficulty caused.
A settlement on the amount of damages is to be reached by both parties.