Parliament act to ban cigarette sale

THE sale of loose cigarettes and packs containing less than 25 cigarettes will be illegal next year.

This is according to section 24 of the Tobacco Control Act which was passed by the National Parliament last October and certified on January 26.

According to Post-Courier reports, the Health Secretary Pascoe Kase said yesterday that smokers and their suppliers have about 12 months to prepare for the reform.

“I have directed my department to act immediately to draft a National Executive Council submission and an instrument for the consideration of the Governor-General who has the power to issue a Notice under the Act nominating a date Section 24 comes into operation. This date will be made 12 months from the date of the Gazette Notice. This will give affected companies time to prepare for the reform,” Kase said.

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“I want to be very clear about the transition arrangements for section 24 of the new Act. When in operation, this section forbids the sale of cigarettes in packets less than 25 and the sale of loose tobacco of less than 25 grams.”

“Implementation of a reform can be a complex process as change becomes known, accepted and made part of a new way of doing things. Since the Act was certified on January 26, the Department of Health has been working to ensure a smooth implementation process. This means realisation of the intended reforms at a pace that also recognises the need for a transition period for affected business to prepare themselves to make some changes to their businesses practices to meet the requirements of the new law.”

“The purpose of such measure is to discourage young people from buying tobacco products or to make them less attractive to young people. It is the smaller, and therefore cheaper packages of tobacco product which tend to be more likely to be bought by young people who often have less available money to spend,” said Mr Kase in a media release.

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FIVE NEW LAWYERS APPOINTED

FIVE prominent lawyers have been appointed as Judges to the National and Supreme Courts recently at the Waigani Court House in Port Moresby.

These five judges, in order of their seniority by the dates of their appointments are Justice Leka Nama Nablu, Justice Robert Lee Lindsay, Justice William Neil, Justice Terence Harold Foulds and Justice Jeffery Leonard Shepherd.

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Papua New Guinea National and Supreme Court Judges

Presiding over the ceremonial sitting in welcoming the five new judges was Deputy Chief Justice, Gibbs Salika as the Chief Justice Salamo Injia was attending funeral service for late Governor-General Sir Michael Ogio.

The Court room was not filled to capacity but the ceremonial sitting proceeded on a high note with families, friends, National Judiciary Services staff, Media and spouses of the newly appointed judges witnessing the occasion.

In welcoming the five new judges as members of the National Judiciary, Alfred Manase, one of the senior lawyers and a Council member of the Papua New Guinea Law Society, said the demands placed upon each of them by the home grown constitution would be at times very trying and difficult.

“As you would have now realised, the demands placed upon each of you by the home grown constitution, and its people will be at times very trying and difficult. Dispensing justice in accordance with law in PNG is no easy task but one that requires commitment,” he said.

Manase encouraged them to serve this nation with honesty.

“As you join the current judges of the Court, place your trust, confidence and have faith in the grace of our Lord God Almighty and serve the National and Supreme Courts in this nation with honesty and integrity,” he said.

Manase said Justices Nablu, Lindsay, Neill and Shepherd need not reminding of the constitutional mandate or duties as they have been performing and serving this country tirelessly over the years as lawyers but welcomed Justice Foulds.

Judge urged politicians to walk their talk

POLITICIANS ought to walk their talk and provide for their constituents says National and Supreme Court judge, Justice Panuel Mogish.

The Post-Courier reports that Justice Mogish made the remarks after observing the appalling state of court facilities during circuits to sub-registries in the Central Province.

“Court houses falling apart. No power, no water, no toilets, poor remand facilities for the Correctional Services, empty chambers and broken furniture. My challenge to provincial authorities to be true to what you say and deliver,” Justice Mogish said during the opening of the Legal Year in Central Province on Tuesday.

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Justice Panuel Mogish

Help in subsidising expenses was also suggested. According to Justice Mogish, last year K 300,000 was spent on a single circuit to the province, with most of the money going to transport and accommodation.

“Why not build accommodation for visiting court parties to cut down on expenses?”

He added that they were only nine pending cases at the province’s National Courts. This reflected local police inability to do their jobs because of lack of necessities such as transport.

“Plenty of criminal activities are being committed in remote areas. But police are handicapped,” he said.

He said allocating money to such infrastructures would greatly help visiting court parties from the nation’s capital in dispensing justice.

FORMER NIO BOSS JAILED

THE former boss of the National Intelligence Organisation (NIO), met his fate today, when the Waigani National Court sentenced him to three years in prison for misappropriating over K90,000.

The former Acting Director-General of NIO, Maika Bruno, is among a number of public servants who were convicted for the offence of misappropriation alone.

Mr Bruno was found guilty on two counts for misappropriating a K55,000 and a further K36,000 in 2013. The funds belonged to the NIO.

Vector illustration of a man lock up in prison

 

Although the court found that Mr Bruno was a career public servant of over 25 years with no prior convictions, his abuse of position of trust and lack of remorse for his actions landed him in hot water.

The court presided by Justice David Cannings initially issued a 8 year sentence but reduced it down to 3 years after considering Mr Bruno’s age and worsening health condition.

Bruno is 54 years of age and hails from Namatani in the New Ireland province.

MT HAGEN CITY DETERIORATES

MT HAGEN, dubbed as the third city of PNG has deteriorated with huge crater like potholes in the city roads and uncontrolled littering.

There is literally no sign of any provincial authority on the ground to control and fix the worsening look of the city.
Crime rates have also accelerated and residents are in fear of moving around due to no police presence.

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The deteriorating roads in Mt Hagen City. 

A public servant and long time resident of Mt Hagen, Jack Pobia, said the current stage of the city is totally an eye sore for visitors and the travelling public.

“Mt Hagen is the centre of all the seven highlands provinces and used to be a very safe and conducive place to live back then but has fast become deteriorated with accelerating lawlessness,” Mr Pobia said.

He said one of the main reason is due to the failed LLG election that was declared in the Mt Hagen Urban Rural LLG in 2012.

“The Mt Hagen Urban LLG was the authority that looks after and maintains the affairs of the city but due to the failed LLG election declared by the Electoral Commission in 2012, there is no authority to manage the affairs of the city,” Mr Pobia added.

He also blamed the political leaders of the province for too much political infighting among themselves and failing to address the deteriorating state of the city.

PNG Prisons in dire straits

PNG is likely to experience alot of prison breakouts in the near future if the management of the Correctional Institute Services  (CIS) and the government fail to adequately run the facilities. 

The recent mess breakout at the Bumio prison in Lae, Morobe Province, and the current situation of prisoners detained without food for almost a week at the Baisu prison in Mt Hagen, Western Highlands Province paints a bad image on prison operations throughout the country. 

Juvenile detainees at Baisu prison.

Baisu prison commander Timbi Kaugla spoke to News-Link PNG today highlighting challanges faced on daily operations of prison facilities and the lack of support from the CIS management over the years. 

Basing his concerns on shortage of food ration at the Baisu prison, Mr Kaugla said the CIS management failed to pay the company contracted to provide food supplies to the prison and therefore the company ceased supplying food since Friday, February 17. 

“We managed to provide food supply using our limited prison funds but fell short since Monday up until now.”

He addmited that the prisoners totaling more than 170 were detained without food since Monday.

“We begged the supplier to at least supply some food rations due to the situation we were facing but the supplier refused,” Mr Kaugla added.

Whisky Fresh Limited, the company contacted to supply food to the prison maintained that it won’t supply food until it’s dues are paid.

Managing Director of Whisky Fresh Ltd, Berry Maip, said he could no longer supply food ration to the prison because the CIS owned his company over K1 million.

“I have exhausted my own funds to supply food for the prison without being paid for almost three months now.”

“I cannot go on supplying food because I don’t have adequate funds to continue,”Mr Maip said.

He said the CIS owned him alot and it was their (CIS management) failure which had resulted in the current situation.

He called on the CIS management to address the situation promptly and pay up his dues for him to restore food supply to the prison.

Father wants justice for his daughter’s death

“My daughter, Ruby-Anne Laufa, died in a very violent and suspicious circumstance. I, my families and Ruby-Anne’s friends demand justice for her.  It is the duty of the police to assist in our demand for justice.”

Those are the words of the father of former Miss PNG, Late Ruby-Anne Laufa, who tragically died on Saturday, February 11, 2017.

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Late Ruby-Anne Laufa (right) and her dad Maurice A Laufa

The actual cause of her death has not been established as yet but police claim she died after jumping out of a moving vehicle allegedly driven by her boyfriend.

However, her father Maurice Andrew Laufa, who is a senior Lawyer and a Lecturer at the School of Law at the University of Papua New Guinea (UPNG) raised concern that the cause of his daughter’s death was yet to be establish.

He blamed the police for failing to investigate the matter promptly to uncover the actual cause of his daughter’s death.

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Late Ruby-Anne Laufa

“I express serious concern about the questionable and apparent lack of urgency in police investigation into the tragic death of my daughter,” Mr Laufa said.

He said on the afternoon of Saturday, February 11, the suspect was detained at 4 mile traffic police station for about 4 hours and then released without any charge.

The police then recorded the cause of death as ‘suicide’ in the police occurrence book.

This did not go the well with Mr Laufa, who expressed dismay over the manner in which police was handing the matter.

“To date, 10 days after the tragic death of my daughter, the police have not spoken to any of the witnesses who volunteered their names and details, nor invited them to go to the police station to provide statements.”

“They never contacted me or my other daughter to provide statements concerning the circumstances leading up to the tragic death of my daughter Ruby-Anne.”

“The police have my contact details and know where I reside (UPNG Waigani Campus) but rather have submitted to reaction in their investigation,” a concerned Mr Laufa said in a press-statement.

“I believe that initial information available to police suggest that the circumstances surrounding the tragic death of my daugther is highly suspicious which should prompt any experienced and competent police officer to take proactive steps to conduct further enquiries and investigations into her death. In this case they have elected to wait,” Mr Laufa further stated.

He said as a senior lawyer, he always believed, trusted and confided in the integrity, fairness, honesty and competence of the nation’s criminal justice system – including police criminal investigations.

However, he said his belief, trust and confidence in the criminal justice system – specifically police criminal investigations, was tested in the 10 days since the passing of her beloved daughter.

MP assault young lawyer

A young lawyer has alleged that he was physcally  assaulted by a member of Parliament. 

Lawyer Laken Lepatu claimed that he was confronted and punched on the face by Wabag Open MP Robert Ganim at a bus stop near Wabag Town on Thursday, February 16.

Lawyer Laken Lepatu

Wabag MP Robert Ganim

Lepatu claimed in his social media post that he was carrying out awareness on election in the Highlands to educate the people when he was assaulted by the particular MP. 

“MP for Wabag Open Mr. Robert Ganim punched me and I threw him into Wabag Police Cells but the police station commander released him,” Lapatu said in his post.

“I parked my vehicle at Wabag Town (Porgera Bus-Stop) & MP Ganim parked his vehicle opposite me. 

“Mr Ganim shouted at me and asked me why I was conducting awareness campaign which I politely replied to him that if he thinks I breached a law(s), we should sort it out at the Police Station,” Lepatu stated.

He said the MP  without paying attention, shouted the same words twice, stepped out of his vehicle & ran towards him. 

Lepatu further claimed that three of the MP’s boys armed with bush knives followed the MP and confronted him face to face with swearing words and the MP punched him on the face. 

“His boys almost murdered me but the public stopped them. 

“Ganim and his boys then got into their vehicle fled,” Lepatu stated.

He further stated that he drove to the police station and placed a formal complaint against the MP for police to arrest the MP.

 “When I stepped out of the police station, I saw Mr. Ganim parked his vehicle and stepped out.

“I quickly grabbed his hand and dragged him into the police cells and ordered the police officers there to arrest him but the police station commander refused and released the MP,” Lepatu stated.

Lepatu who recently assisted students with free legal assistance and won several cases stammed from the UPNG student and police standoff last year said he will pursue the matter  until justice is done.

“I will continue my awareness campaign until I complete Enga. The Constitution provides for freedom of speech, association, thought, beliefs & religion. This is a democratic nation, a free world,” Lepatu stated.

Several attempts to get the MP to comment failed. 

Court rejects bid to dismiss fraud charges against former Education Sec

AN application to dismiss fraud charges against former education secretary Dr Michael Tapo was rejected by the Waigani Committal Court yesterday.
The National reported that Tapo, 61, from Soheneru village, Lorengau, Manus, allegedly misappropriated a total of K1,208,883.21 between June and December 2012.

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Former Education Secretary Michael Tapo

Magistrate Cosmas Bidar said the court rejected the application because the matter was “premature”.
“The only way to dismiss a case is to consider the evidence first,” Bidar said.
He said Tapo’s matter was premature because the court had not considered sufficiency of evidence as yet.
The application was filed by way of notice of motion on July 25 to dismiss Tapo’s charges of 25 counts of dishonest application, one count of official corruption and one count of abuse of office.
The amount of K1,208,883.21 was allegedly paid to the managing director of Yumi Yet Construction Ltd for the purpose of building, maintenance and renovation of classrooms and teachers houses in National Capital District (NCD) schools.
Police allege that to date no services or very poor services were rendered.
Tapo, who was appointed chairman of a working committee that was formed to assist NCD education services on contractor’s outstanding payments, allegedly paid K321, 800.85 on June 2, 2012 and K887, 082.36 on Dec 27, 2012 to Yumi Yet Construction Ltd.

Local village court magistrates not receiving regular salaries

SOME village court magistrates in the country who are not receiving regular salaries want the Department of Provincial and Local Level Government to address their concern.
The issue was raised by village court magistrates in Western Highlands yesterday.
They told The National that the Government, through the department, selected 11 village court officials from 5,000 officials and 1,600 village courts in the country to be on regular salary. They said only seven out of the 11 were on payroll but not the other four.

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Local WHP village court magistrates raising their concerns

SOME village court magistrates in the country who are not receiving regular salaries want the Department of Provincial and Local Level Government to address their concern.
The issue was raised by village court magistrates in Western Highlands yesterday.
They said the Government, through the department, selected 11 village court officials from 5,000 officials and 1,600 village courts in the country to be on regular salary. They said only seven out of the 11 were on payroll but not the other four.
Team leader and Biapuri village court magistrate Raphael Owa, from Mt Hagen, said that he and three others, including a female magistrate, were not receiving their regular salary.
He said they had raised concerns for a  longtime but nothing seemed to be done.
Provincial and Local Level Government Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Sir Leo Dion has said that all village court magistrates and councillors would be on a regular Government payroll.
Sir Leo said the hard-working people would be properly compensated.
The Government and Sir Leo has announced a total of K38.4 million for the remuneration for the  officials.
Owa said they wanted the Government to consider immediate action because with the general election next year,  they feared nothing would be done. Team leader and Biapuri village court magistrate Raphael Owa, from Mt Hagen, said that he and three others, including a female magistrate, were not receiving their regular salary.
He said they had raised concerns for a  longtime but nothing seemed to be done.
Provincial and Local Level Government Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Sir Leo Dion has said that all village court magistrates and councillors would be on a regular Government payroll.
Sir Leo said the hard-working people would be properly compensated.
The Government and Sir Leo has announced a total of K38.4 million for the remuneration for the  officials.
Owa said they wanted the Government to consider immediate action because with the general election next year,  they feared nothing would be done.SOME village court magistrates in the country who are not receiving regular salaries want the Department of Provincial and Local Level Government to address their concern.
The issue was raised by village court magistrates in Western Highlands yesterday.
They said the Government, through the department, selected 11 village court officials from 5,000 officials and 1,600 village courts in the country to be on regular salary. They said only seven out of the 11 were on payroll but not the other four.
Team leader and Biapuri village court magistrate Raphael Owa, from Mt Hagen, said that he and three others, including a female magistrate, were not receiving their regular salary.
He said they had raised concerns for a  longtime but nothing seemed to be done.
Provincial and Local Level Government Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Sir Leo Dion has said that all village court magistrates and councillors would be on a regular Government payroll.
Sir Leo said the hard-working people would be properly compensated.
The Government and Sir Leo has announced a total of K38.4 million for the remuneration for the  officials.
Owa said they wanted the Government to consider immediate action because with the general election next year,  they feared nothing would be done.