PORT MORESBY, (POST COURIER) – The Papua New Guinea Government’s immediate task is to salvage the 2016 academic year at State-run universities which have been hit by protests and boycott of classes by students for more than one month, Chief Secretary Isaac Lupari said Wednesday.
Lupari warned that if the protesting students did not adhere to instructions from their respective university councils and administrations, then they were likely to face some sort of penalties. He said the future was being discussed among vice-chancellors of the four State universities.
Lupari said last night that he has met with the four vice-chancellors – from the University of PNG, University of Technology, University of Goroka and University of Natural Resources and Environment – and will meet again next Tuesday in Port Moresby for final talks on the way forward for the students’ academic year.
In latest developments, University of Goroka students were being moved out of campus with the help of the administration and various provincial governments around the country.
Those at Lae Unitech were still boycotting classes despite calls by the administration to return and at UPNG, it was a slow start for many as the students were handed pre-registration forms to fill in which should be completed by tomorrow.
Lupari urged the students to think seriously about going back to classes.
An announcement as to the outcome of the meeting with vice-chancellors will be made next week when they hold final talks in Port Moresby.
Meanwhile, the PNG National Court has blocked another attempt by protesting students at the University of Papua New Guinea to remove police from the Waigani and Taurama campuses.
Justice Derek Hartshorn dismissed an application to stop police from arresting student leader Kenneth Rapa and an application that the police shootout last Wednesday was unconstitutional.
“Our fight for justice is not over,” said students’ lawyer Laken Kepatu Aigilo outside the court following the ruling.
The UPNG students’ representative council had gone to court on Tuesday and filed an application seeking three ex parte orders through Aigilo. These were:
* Restrain police from occupying both the Taurama and Waigani UPNG campuses;
*Restrain police from arresting SRC leader Kenneth Rapa and other student leaders; and
*Declaration that the June 8 police shooting was an execution of Metropolitan Superintendent Ben Turi’s orders, hence they are in breach of relevant constitutional provisions.
In the motion Wednesday morning, Aigilo sought a summon or order ordering Police Commissioner Gari Baki, Central Province and Port Moresby commander Sylvester Kalaut and metropolitan chief Ben Turi to be brought before the court to explain why they gave the orders for the shooting.
However, in the afternoon Justice Hartshorn denied all three applications, saying he had based his ruling on existing legal principles.
The judge said it was outrageous that the students’ representative council had sought restraining orders that were against normal police duty.
Outside court, Aigilo, who is providing fee legal assistance to the students, said he would seek further instruction from them and come back to court.