OPPOSITION Leader Honorable Matthew Wale says the Prime Minister’s interference in the criminal proceedings instituted against the PNG doctor’s case has raised serious questions on the clash of the jurisdictions of the DPP and the courts.
On Thursday last week, the media reported that the court had withdrawn charges laid against the PNG doctor who was wrongly accused by the Prime Minister as the index Covid-19 in the country.
Media reports stated that the Prime Minister had written to the DPP to withdraw the case stating that he (Prime Minister) wanted to deal with the matter ‘administratively’, using the powers granted on him under Regulation 58 sub regulation of the Emergency Powers (COVID19) Regulation (N0.3) 2021.
The media also quoted the DPP stating that the Regulation grants the Prime Minister power to deal with people who are charged for border crossing administratively.
The DPP was further quoted by the media stating that the Prime Minister also instructed that the defendants to each pay a $5,000 penalty fee.
“Firstly, how can the Prime Minister allow the matter to go to court before calling for its retraction? As the alleged breaches fall under the Regulations, as head, he ought to have known that the doctor was entitled to be dealt with administratively in the first instance. Was he aware of this and permitted the case to be referred to the DPP? Or did he change his mind for some other reason? Either way, it points to incompetency in how important matters as such are dealt with at the leadership level, and only goes to show how the Prime Minister has no respect for the DPPs constitutional mandate to sanction criminal cases.” Hon Wale said.
The Opposition Leader also adds the Prime Minister’s request for retraction also raises serious questions on whether the doctor’s detention amounted to unlawful detention and malicious prosecution.
Hon Wale said these are rights protected by the Constitution even in state of emergency situations and similarly, the Regulations also demand fair treatment.
“How are the administrative procedures going to be applied fairly when the doctor was already detained and charged and brought before the courts? Who is going to bear the cost if the doctor decides to institute proceedings? Also, the withdrawn proceedings now raises the question on the relevance of section 16 (8) of the Constitution which states, persons detained in an emergency situation must be dealt with by an independent and impartial tribunal? Is the court this tribunal?” Hon Wale questioned.
The Opposition Leader said this case now sets a bad precedence for similar cases.
“It is clear that the Prime Minister interfered because he does not want to lose face for wrongly accusing a PNG citizen and for misleading the country on the doctor’s case,” Hon Wale said.
The Opposition Leader further adds it also raises the question of why this case was treated differently from other illegal border crossing cases in the past, and the recent case of the 5 Asians that were also brought back from Ontong Java who were suspected of breaching our immigration laws.
“If the Asians are being investigated for breaches of our immigration laws then how is this case different from the doctor’s case. Will the Asians be charged under the same regulations?” he questioned.
The Opposition Leader said these set of events raises serious issues of public interest, which demand clear explanations from the Prime Minister and also the DPP.
– Opposition Press