Posts Categorized: Law & order

Court dismisses Lato election dispute

By Winterford Toreas

National court judge ruled there was no misconduct in the counting of ballots for the 2015 ABG General Election.

National Court judge, Justice Colin Makail, last week dismissed the election petition case against the member for Lato constituency in the Bougainville House of Representatives.

Justice Makail then ordered the petitioner, Patrick Leslie to meet the respondents’ costs on solicitor/client basis.

The hearing which took place at the Buka Courthouse followed a petition filed by Mr Leslie against the declaration of Mr Christopher Kena as the duly elected member for Lato constituency in the Bana District of South Bougainville during the 2015 ABG General Elections.

Mr Leslie had stated that one of the ballot boxes was tampered with after two of the outer seals and two inner seals were removed during the polling period and, therefore, all ballot papers in that ballot box should not be counted.

However, the South Bougainville Returning Officer Sam Roroga had ordered the counting of these ballot papers after seeing that the number of papers in that box corresponded with the presiding officer’s returns.

Mr Kena is the first respondent while the South Bougainville Returning Officer, the Acting Bougainville Electoral Commissioner George Manu, and the Office of the Bougainville Electoral Commissioner are the second, third and fourth respondents respectively.

As he dismissed the case on Monday 4 April, Justice Makail also made the ruling that the second, third and fourth respondents’ motion handed up in court is upheld and that the petitioner shall pay the second, third and fourth respondents’ costs on solicitor/client basis, to be taxed, if not agreed.

The Court also ordered that the security deposit of K2,000 by Mr Leslie be paid towards satisfying the fourth respondent’s legal costs.

The Acting Bougainville Electoral Commissioner, Mr George Manu when commenting on the court decision, said this shows that there were no sinister activities taking place and that the election was conducted in a free, fair and transparent manner.

“The decision by the court shows that we had conducted our election in a free, fair and transparent environment,” said Mr Manu, “and that Mr Kena was the duly elected member for Lato constituency.”

“To the people of Lato constituency, the court has decided that Mr Kena is your duly elected member in the Bougainville House of Representatives.”

Mr Manu also commended all polling and counting officials for their transparent stand throughout the election period.

This election petition case is one of the two disputed cases that were registered following the completion of the 2015 ABG General Elections.

The other case was filed by the runner-up of the Tsitalato constituency seat disputing the declaration of Fidelis Semoso as the duly elected member of Tsitalato constituency.

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Law, order and warlords affect progress in Koromira

Research conducted by Ishmael Palipal at the Divine Word University in Madang has revealed that law and order issues continue to affect the lives of people in Koromira.

Factors contributing to the lack of community development in Koromira area, Central Bougainville examines the factors affecting development in the village assembly located within Kododa constituency and Palipal interviewed 40 local people.

Palipal found that the presence of armed ‘warlords’ is a major issue which subverts normal community operations.

“Warlords once in the war period save and protect us from the invading PNG Defence Force, but now they are like bullies to us” a local fisherman said.

“[This is] not really directly, but indirectly such as claiming government properties and using them for their personal gain.

“We have no power to go against them because most of them are still powerful and armed with high-powered guns,” said another participant in the research.

“Not all are like that, just a few. Those are destroying this unique reputation they once had and were very much admired and respected by the people.”

Outside of this influential group, the lack of law and order is still a major problem which is especially noticeable with high levels of alcohol consumption and anti-social behaviour.

“As a result of no proper law and order in the community, drugs and alcohol consumption, especially ‘homebrew’ has been increasing gradually,” a clan leader told Palipal.

“Though recently, with some ex-combatants, we removed some of the gas bottles that are used to brew alcohol in some villages.

“But since there is no proper enforcement of law, youngsters continue to brew alcohol.”

The research suggested that by addressing law and order at a village level, it can prevent the snowball-effect of crime and lawlessness in to the towns.

“With the drug and alcohol influence other unwanted activities, like stealing, have been going on,” a government official said.

“It is like one problem leads to another. Thus, law and order should be established well in the village level because that is the base of the people.”

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War and peace: Struggles for development in Koromira

The warrior dance is a part of Koromira culture; traditionally performed for visiting chiefs or tribes.

Research conducted by Ishmael Palipal at the Divine Word University in Madang has revealed that ongoing disruptions to peace have hindered development in Koromira.

The paper, Factors contributing to the lack of community development in Koromira area, Central Bougainville, examines the factors affecting development in the village assembly located within Kododa constituency and Palipal interviewed 40 local people for his research.

Many local people have said conflicts, often driven by jealously, are holding back the community.

“Something is wrong with our mentality,” one local farmer said, “jealousy is the fuelling factor behind so much arguments on land other new things such as agriculture projects.”

“I have been working on my poultry project and recently some people cut and stole 5 of my chickens ready to be sold.”

A lack of adequate resolution for past conflicts, including actions during the Bougainville crisis, is also a constant disruption to harmonious relations in the community.

“We cannot do new things because some of our young people, who are dead now, have caused some problems in the past to other villages,” one community elder said.

“We are still working to repay them before we can establish things for ourselves, otherwise we will just waste our developments to their hands.”

“We have to lay low until reconciliation is done with them.”

Palipal’s research indicates that Koromira cannot move forward unless the past is left behind through reconciliation and the lasting peace it brings.

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Street vendors unhappy with law enforcement

By Leonard Fong Roka

691-arawa-street-vendors

A group of women at the Bendaun Market at Section 17-18 suburb of Arawa Town have complained that they are not allowed to sell around the town.

The women believe they should be allowed to sell their produce anywhere in Arawa in order to earn a living and that there are greater law and order issues that should be pursued.

“The police’s task is to help with the bigger law and order problem on Bougainville,” the Kongara-Pokpok Island woman said, as she sat brushing flies away from her smoked fish.

“They are not here to chase our poor women around Arawa that are trying to make a living by selling their goods.

“We mothers are not the ones littering the township as they have said; we are not the ones drinking alcohol and howling like while dogs during the nights.

“Police should chase the boozing populace that roam free and lock them in the jail and do not suppress our right to earn a living.”

To the women vendors the Arawa Urban Council is the culprit that is pushing the police to chase them from vending everywhere in town.

“We run after customers everywhere in town,” said the other woman, a Panguna lady who resides in Arawa with her businessman husband.

“We set up our tables anywhere in response to the movement of customers. That is how I make a living to add onto what my husband makes from our business.”

“We have power bills to pay for, school fees for our children and I have heard that soon the urban council will be charging us for water usage.”

“We are not only talking about women from Kieta or Panguna alone. Arawa is Bougainville’s town and we have women from Nagovis, Siwai, Buin and many other parts of Bougainville that the police are chasing around.”

Late in November, a police patrol running after women vendors in the business centre of Arawa was confronted by a band angry women who told to the police that they were the mothers of Arawa and who will not be uproot them.

According to the Bendaun Market women, if they continue to be chased away from their business they will march to the offices of the two government bodies and demand compensation.

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Law & justice buildings open in Buin

625-law-justice-buinBy Daphney Toke

The opening ceremony for the newly constructed buildings for the law, justice, police and corrections services were held in Buin town on Thursday 27 August.

The event was witnessed by hundreds of people from Buin District and also present at the event was the Hon. Willie Masiu (the MP for Konnou and Minister for Police & Correctional Services and Law & Justice), Hon. Jacob Tooke (the MP for Baubake and Minister for Community Government), other members of parliament and representatives from ABG departments.

With the opening of these new buildings a magistrate will now undertake duties in Buin to conduct preliminary hearings and make decisions about minor crimes and some civil actions. The magistrate will also conduct awareness on law in the villages so that people understand the legal system.

This is a milestone achievement for the people of Buin and South Bougainville as law and order has long been major concern in the area. With the establishment of these buildings the people of Buin are looking forward to seeing changes and leaving behind the reputation as a breeding ground for crime.

The members of parliament also recommended that the people of Buin look after the new government facilities. They were urged to take ownership of the newly constructed buildings as they will be of great benefit to them. They set out a challenge that the development of Buin is in their own hands and it is their attitude that will determine outcomes.

Following the ceremonies surrounding the development of the law and justice sector, the Department of Primary Industries office in Buka handed over a vehicle to the regional office in Buin under the leadership of Mr Peter Nomoreke. This means that there will also be major improvements in the delivery of services under the primary industry sector in the Buin District.

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Cell coverage comes to South Nasioi as dispute is resolved

By Gideon Davika

The South Nasioi Constituency in Kieta District was one of the areas in Bougainville that did not receive cellular coverage when the Digicel network arrived on Bougainville.

For the past few years the company has attempted to put up towers in the area, but disputes over land among landowners led to repeated vandalism and destruction of the infrastructure.

Mid-last year the company conducted proper research and negotiations with the landowners. As a result they were finally able to establish three towers on high ground to bring coverage to the region.

The three towers were launched at the beginning of this year and now South Nasioi receives full network coverage and the community is enjoying the benefits.

One older person, Thomas Dikaung, said that now he can talk to his son, who is based in Rabaul. For years, with no network coverage, he spent what little money he had to pay a bus fare to go to town in order to talk to his son.

Now the people of South Nasioi have seen the importance of communication and they are protecting the towers from getting destroyed by a handful of lawbreakers.

Local village magistrates and chiefs held a meeting and came up with an agreement that anyone reported vandalising the towers will be handed over to the police.

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Village school a setting for crime and conflict in Buin

By Leonard Fong Roka

567-kanauro-primary-school

The village of Kanauro has a reputation across Buin as having a high rate of illiteracy and social upheaval.

It is one of the most populous villages in the Baubake Constituency of the Buin District in south Bougainville.

According to the Deputy Principal of Kanauro Primary School, Mr Augustine Karai, every year the academic calendar ends with some kind of parent-staff conflict over the results of the Grade 8 students.

“When a few students cannot make it through to secondary schools we, the teachers, are blamed for it,” Mr Karai said.

“For that our staff are threatened and even the school’s property is taken and it is hard to get it returned.”

In the 2014 academic year the principal, a local from the neighbouring village of Piano, was nearly beheaded by an angry parent over an accusation of misappropriation of school funds and the failure of students to secure a place in one of the secondary schools in Bougainville.

In the same year a number staff houses were broken into and teachers’ property was stolen by the local community members. According to Mr Karai the school is often subjected to aggressive confrontations by the villagers.

“The school had its grass cutter and electric generator taken by the villagers last year,” he continued.

”Because there was a delay of payment for a little maintenance work, they vandalized a few classrooms.

“A school situated in a village where its own citizens do not care about it is really difficult, thus we struggle to manage it.

“This is one of the many reasons why the school does not produce many educated persons for the community.”

Every night the 2015 staff have to get their property and food secured into their houses to avoid been stolen by the locals. During the holidays the staff engage a few trusted locals to take care of their staff houses as they go home for their breaks.

“We try to bring change,” Mr Karai said, “but when the child comes from a home that is simply socially broken down; there is nothing good education can achieve.”

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New programme addresses the roots of gender-based violence

A new programme to prevent violence against women in Bougainville was launched in March.

Planim Save, Kamap Strongpela (Plant Knowledge, Grow Strong) will be jointly led by UN Women and UNICEF PNG and funded under the UN Peace Building Fund in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville.

Planim Save will provide community peacebuilding on Bougainville in order to address the ongoing issue of post-conflict trauma, which is a major contributor to the regions high levels of violence, particularly gender-based violence.

While peacebuilding processes exist already exist in the autonomous region, Planim Save has a specific focus on gender-based violence and negative gender norms.

South Bougainville will be the setting for a pilot programme and the curriculum will be developed in congruence with local culture. The southern region was chosen because it is seen as a hot spot for violence and conflict.

The project document identifies the presence of weapons in the community, the Konnou crisis and the informal trade of alcohol and weapons with the Solomon Islands as some the reasons the south of Bougainville is ideal for the pilot. Buin has been identified in particular as a district where women and youths have not often been participants in community decision making.

Planim Save has two key strategies that, it is hoped, will lead to greater support for traumatised persons and a reduced level of gender-based violence.

The first strategy is to increase the level of awareness, information and conversation on gender, human rights & gender based violence, trauma & healing and positive relationship skills among ex-combatants, community leaders, women and youths. This will be achieved with the development of a locally driven curriculum, the identification and training of community facilitators, the initiation of regular conversations within the community, the support of community of counsellors and the involvement of Councils of Elders in planning.

The second strategy implemented by Planim Save is to improve the support structures available to traumatised persons and survivors of gender based violence. This will involve building capacity of support services including training for medical staff, police and magistrates. This will be made possible with additional support staff at Family Support Centres, increased training services and a series of radio infomercials to publicise the centres.

After the eighteen month programme is completed an evaluation will provide insights in to the best approaches to violence prevention in the region.

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ABG passes mining legistlation

Momis

The Autonomous Bougainville Government passed a new, long-term mining law through parliament on Thursday 26 March 2014.

In his second reading speech in the Bougainville Parliament on Wednesday, the President spoke of the misery, destruction and conflict caused for Bougainville by colonial mining law and explained  that the new law was a rejection of that terrible past.

“The rights and the needs of the owners of the minerals will be given the highest level of protection,” President Momis said of the new legislation.

“In particular, the owners will have power to stop either or both exploration on their land, or the grant of a mining licence over their land.

“[Landowners] will be entitled to rents and compensation, a share of royalties, proper treatment under resettlement plans and programs, preference in mining employment and business related opportunities, 5 per cent free equity ownership in the mine lease holder, and much more.”

Chief Dr Momis stated that the bill encourages direct participation by Bougainvilleans in the mining industry.

“Only Bougainvilleans can do small scale or artisanal mining, under community mining licences and artisanal mining licences,” President Momis continued.

“We encourage small-scale mining, for we have abolished restrictions in PNG law that meant most small-scale mining was illegal.

“There is also provision allowing companies controlled by landowners to apply for exploration licences over land owned by those landowner’s. These are new directions for mining law in Bougainville.”

He also stated that because the ABG is the government of all Bougainvilleans the law had to balance the rights and needs of mineral rich landowners with protecting the interests and rights of all other Bougainvilleans. Any kind of mining, and especially large-scale mining, has impacts on other Bougainvilleans.

The law also offers protections and benefits to people outside the mine area likely to suffer environmental and social impacts.

“In a place as small as Bougainville, where our communities are so closely connected, large mines have impacts on every part of the region,” President Momis said.

It is responsibility of the ABG to look after impacts on all peoples to ensure there is a spread of economic benefits, for inequitable development, where just landowners with minerals became wealthy, would only cause divisions and conflicts.

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Security & safety tightened at Kieta Wharf

By Gideon Davika

536-kieta-wharf

Niganaa Stevedoring has been forced to tighten up security and safety at Kieta Wharf as the amount of shipments increases each year.

A statistical report from last year showed that each month more than one hundred shipping containers are delivered to the wharf.

At the beginning of last year a security house was built at the gate as a checkpoint for guards to check all vehicles and people entering the wharf.

Niganaa Stevedoring manager, Charnel Tane, said that since the establishment of strict regulations, many problems that occurred at the wharf have stopped and things are running in a more orderly manner.

The security team at the gate to the wharf checks every vehicle’s registration and only vehicles with an official sticker are allowed to enter the wharf.

Vehicle drivers and other people entering must wear reflective vests, safety boots and a safety helmet on their head at the wharf. The security is very strict and they will not allow any person to enter the wharf without the proper safety equipment.

The removable of shipping containers and loose cargo on pallets is also checked thoroughly at the gate by the guards. They check the records of shipments and make sure that correct containers and cargo is being taken.

Before the establishment of these rules and regulations there were a number of injuries and deaths that occurred at the wharf which could have been avoided if people were wearing the correct equipment.

As well as the tragic loss of life this was becoming expensive as Niganaa had to spend a lot of money in compensation payments.

Cargo was being lost or stolen from the wharf as a result of vehicles being allowed to enter without authorisation.

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