CURFEW BREAKER ACQUITTED  - Solomon Star News

CURFEW BREAKER ACQUITTED 
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09 September 2020
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Officers from the Henderson Police station manning the Poha check point back in April. [File photo]

A MAN who stood trial for breaching the curfew on April 11 at Kukum in Honiara has been acquitted of the offence.

This was after Principal Magistrate Fatima Taeburi found that the crown has failed to prove that the areas of Kukum and Mbua Valley are within Honiara as defined in the Emergency Powers (Covid-19) (Declarations of Honiara as Emergency Zone) Order 2020.

She added that there is no legal authority to define the area of Central Business District (CBD) in Honiara and that the definition of Honiara as the emergency zone in the Order raises so many questions and uncertainties.

 “In the strict reading and interpretation of the definition of Honiara in Emergency Powers (COVID-19) (Declaration of Honiara as an Emergency Zone) Order 2020, there is clearly no delineation of both the southern and northern boundaries of the emergency zones,” Taeburi said.

“The definition of Honiara as the emergency zone in the Order is therefore vague and ambiguous,” she added.

Junior Riria had stood trial for one count of restriction movement of persons in Honiara contrary to the Emergency Powers (COVID-19) (Restriction of movement in Honiara) Order 2020 and the Emergency Powers (COVID-19) Regulations 2020.

He was arrested on April 11, at about 10 pm, when police sighted him walking along the road behind the Kukum Hot Bread Kitchen believed to be a public place.

The prosecution called the Surveyor General of Solomon Islands and the Deputy Director of National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) and tendered documents by consent at the trial.

The prosecutor had argued that the areas of Kukum and Mbua Valley are located within the Honiara Town Boundary as indicated on the map and as stated by the Surveyor-General.

The Surveyor General had testified that the map of Honiara was drawn in 1981 and that the boundaries of Honiara remain the same until today.

Taeburi in her judgment said there is no evidence presented to enable the court to draw an inference or a conclusion that the boundaries of Honiara City as delineated on the map mean the boundaries of Honiara as the emergency zone in the order made by the Prime Minister.

“The fact that the boundaries of Honiara as defined on the map were not changed since 1981 and the fact that Kukum and Mbua Valley are located within the boundaries of Honiara as defined in 1981 does not in any way advance the prosecution’s argument.”

She further added that the Honiara City boundary as depicted on the map is not the issue in this case but the issue is the boundary of Honiara as the emergency zone in the order made by the Prime Minister.

“Clearly the definition of Honiara in the order of the Prime Minister made no reference to the boundaries of Honiara City as drawn in 1981.

“Furthermore, the definition of Honiara in the order is extended and goes beyond the boundaries of Honiara City as drawn in 1981 in both the westerly and easterly directions.

“Even more, unlike the boundaries of Honiara City drawn in 1981, the definition of Honiara in the order of the Prime Minister failed to identify the boundaries in the north and south of the area.

“It is therefore quite obvious that the boundaries of Honiara City drawn in 1981 and the definition of Honiara in the Prime Minister’s order are not the same thing,” Taeburi said.

She said in her view, it is quite ridiculous to now ask the court to infer the boundaries of Honiara City as drawn in 1981 to also mean the boundaries of Honiara as defined in the order by the Prime Minister.

 “As the definition of Honiara in the order stands, it does not define the northern and southern boundaries therefore it is vague and ambiguous.”

Taeburi also agreed with the defence counsel’s closing address on which he stated that the definition of Honiara as the emergency zone in the order raises so many questions and uncertainties.

Public Solicitor’s lawyer Hayniel Max had stated that the order as it appears deduced an area that is not in itself covers Honiara as an Emergency Zone, and such that would extend through the southern and northern endpoints to cover any lengths and perimeters going south and north.

“Or such that it never ends, meaning it could extend to the heart of Guadalcanal through to Weathercoast and to the other islands of Solomon Islands or the world at large and still extends further who knows where.

“Should it be restricted to the CBD to both ends at Poha River and Alligator Creek?

“That we do not know.

“Should it be determined on a straight line, a zig-zag, a wave-like route?” Max said in his closing address.

Both the Surveyor General and the Deputy of NDMO stated that the extent of the CBD in Honiara depends on the scope of commercial activities within the area.

The Surveyor General stated that there is no legal authority to define the area of CBD in Honiara and that it could include the Kukum area, it could also include Chinatown and the Town Ground area.

By ASSUMPTA BUCHANAN
Newsroom, Honiara

 

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