Country needs a full-time Director of Public Prosecution, says judge
A HIGH Court judge says the country needs and deserves a “full time” Director of Public Prosecutions.
Justice Stephen Pallaras, QC, made the call in light of the frequent overseas travels by the Director of Public Prosecution Ronald Bei Talasasa.
He said Mr Talasasa’s regular and frequent absences for sporting tours or conferences, is both disruptive to the whole community and ruinous of attempts to expedite criminal trials.
“Not only are cases interrupted mid-way through to accommodate his travelling diary – which by the way keeps everyone else waiting, including the accused persons, witnesses, lawyers and the rest of the community who are waiting for their trials to start,” Justice Pallaras said.
“What is worse is no prosecutorial decisions of any consequence can be made until he re-enters the jurisdiction.
“This is because his prosecutors are not trusted with the delegated authority to make those decisions, so every other case, even those which the director is not personally involved in, has to wait.
“We all just put our pens and have a nap.
“What is wrong with the government that they tolerate this? Why do they think it acceptable to have a part time director?” Justice Pallaras asked.
He was speaking at the start of a four-day workshop on Family Violence and Youth Justice Workshop that opened in Honiara yesterday.
Mr Talasasa travels frequently overseas both on official duties, as well as to attend sports conferences as a member of the Solomon Islands National Olympic Committee.
He was part of the country’s sporting contingent at the Commonwealth Games in Scotland, which ended early this month.
A few days after arriving back, he left again, this time to Fiji where he’s currently attending a conference.
“Is it how a little properly functioning justice system means to the government? Are logs and tuna and betel nuts more important than the citizens of this country?
“Or is it that those who are hurting most are just women and children and really, they don’t count so much,” Justice Pallaras said.
He said for the victims of rape, defilement, indecent assault and other sexual offences, to be treated with such contempt is “selfish, insensitive and must stop”.
Justice Pallaras said the Government must demand that this country has the full time service of a Director of Public Prosecutions.
“It owes its citizens no less.”
He added that the time saved could be well spent in the proper training of the young prosecutors in the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, training which is so desperately needed in the very basics of properly presenting a case of sexual offending.
The judge said the same comments in respect of lack of effective training can be made about the Public Solicitor’s Office.
Justice Pallaras said he is not one who believes that every woman or child whoever makes a complaint in relation to sexual assault is necessary telling the truth.
He said he had this experience of a rape case he heard in the High Court where a woman told the court how the accused overpowered her and raped her only to come back after lunch break to change her story that she fancied the accused and willingly had sex with him.
“I referred the case to the Director of Public Prosecutions for him to consider the laying of perjury charges against her.
“I heard nothing from him.”
He said the point is that defence counsel ought to have the skills to discover a lying witness, not only for the Court’s benefit but for the sake of the poor man in the dock who is falsely accused.
Justice Pallaras said because they don’t have the skills the whole system suffers accordingly.
By ASSUMPTA BUCHANAN