Youths win damages over unlawful custody

National, Normal


THE State has been ordered to pay more than K800,000 in damages to five Rai Coast youths after they were detained in custody for an extended period without any charges.
The youths were held in Rai Coast for about three weeks before they were transferred to Madang town, where they were detained for a month.
 They were released by order of the district court when police failed to pursue the case.
The National Court in Madang found that the youths were subjected to torture and inhumane treatment by the police while in custody.
The youths, Nail Lamon, Sinclair Mafuk, Andrew Wangiak, Mupape Map and Namure Kanai sued seven policemen and the State in 2004 after police went to their village in Rai Coast and arrested them as murder suspects.
The court ruled the police breached the youth’s right to freedom, protection from inhumane treatment, right to liberty, freedom from forced labour and freedom from arbitrary search and entry under sections 26,32, 42, 43 and 44 of the Constitution.
The youths sought for assessment of damages and claimed compensation for breaches of human rights, general damages for pain, suffering, humiliation, shame and exemplary damages.
The court found that none of the respondents, including the State, argued the case despite being given ample opportunity to do so.
Despite the publicity given to the case, as well as the respondents being served with the necessary documents under the National Court rules, no attempts were made by the office of the Solicitor-General or the legal services division of the police force to assist the court in resolving the matter.
Justice David Cannings, while assessing the necessary damages, ordered that Mr Lamon, Mr Mafuk and Mr Wangiak be paid K184,000 each.
He also ordered payment of K128,800 each to Mr Map and Mr Kanai.
The judge ordered the respondents to pay the total cost of K809,600 to the youths within 30 days after the date of entry of judgment.