Tough penalties not changing anything, says judge

National, Normal

TOUGH jail terms imposed on firearms offenders do not seem to make any differences.
National Court Judge Justice Joseph Yagi pointed this out in Kainantu while sentencing a wilful murder suspect Jebi Michael who shot dead a 50-year-old man using a M16 high powered rifle in Ukarumpa in the Aiyura valley last year.
He sentenced Joseph to life imprisonment after finding him guilty of committing the offence which he described as a very serious offence involving gunning down of a defenceless and harmless elderly man.
“Killings by means of firearms are prevalent and it appears despite heavy sentences being imposed by the courts, it seem to have no deterrent effects.
“There are widespread killings with the use of illegal firearms in the country, this led to the establishment of the Guns Control Committee not long ago,” Yagi said.
He said the committee engaged in extensive nationwide consultations across the sections of the communities and produced comprehensive reports containing recommendations for Government to deliberate on and implement.
Yagi said the committee found that guns had fallen into the hands of many people illegally where many killings were associated with the use of illegal firearms.
“The present case is just another of the statistics in respect to killings with the use of illegal firearms, this is a worrying trend that should stop,” he said.
The Goroka- based National Court judge said it seems the Government is disinterested with the serious concerns raised by the Guns Committee saying the Government must treat the issue seriously.
The issue must not be treated with complacency as guns pose great threats to the community with huge potential for lawlessness to escalate, Yagi said.