The Highest Court of the Independent State of Papua New Guinea has ruled that a person who has been convicted of an indictable offence, is permanently disqualified from becoming a member of the parliament.
SUPREME COURT RULES ON EX CONVICTS IN ELECTIONS IN PAPUA NEW GUINEA
By Eric Tamaan | NBC News PNG.
The country's Highest Court has ruled that a person who has been convicted of an indictable offence, is permanently disqualified from becoming a member of the Parliament by Section 103 (3)(e) of the Constitution.
This means such a person is not eligible to contest the National Elections after the date of the commencement of the Constitutional Amendment Number 24- Electoral Reforms from June 25th, 2002.
This is irrespective of their length of sentence and whether they have completed their sentence or not.
Section 103 (3) (e) states that a person is not qualified to be, or to remain a Member of the Parliament (MP), if he/she has been convicted under any Law of an indictable offence committed after the coming into operation of the Constitutional Amendment No. 24 - Electoral Reforms.
The decision by a five men Supreme Court bench is a result of a Section 19 Special Reference filed by the Attorney General, seeking the Court's opinion on the meaning of Section 103 (3)(e), which was inserted into the Constitution in 2002 by Constitutional Amendment Number 24- Electoral Reforms.
The Attorney General wanted to know whether persons who have been convicted by a Court of competent jurisdiction are eligible to nominate and contest the National Election or not.
Amongst the orders, the Court has also ruled that a nomination to be a candidate by such a person must be rejected by the Electoral Commission.
Solicitor General Tauvasa Tanuvasa representing the Attorney General Pila Niningi, stated that Highest Court have now clarified the issue on who is eligible and who is not.
Mr. Tanuvasa also said that in the current scenario, where a candidate has already nominated and was accepted by the PNGEC (Papua New Guinea Electoral Commission), this can be set aside by the National or Supreme Court as unlawful.
He also said that if they are not challenged and elected in an election, they can be challenged in the Court of Disputed Returns, and their election win declared null and void, under the Organic Law on Provincial and Local Level Government Elections.
Mr. Tanuvasa added that this will now put to rest the uncertainty and questions surrounding the issue, and the PNGEC (Papua New Guinea Electoral Commission) can now go ahead and implement this amendment, which was passed in parliament recently.