PNG AG seeks high court’s clarification on whether people convicted can contest election

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Papua New Guinea’s Attorney-General Dr Eric Kwa has filed a special reference in the Supreme Court to seek clarification on whether people convicted by a competent court can contest the General Election.

Solicitor-General Tauvasa Tanuvasa said that the special reference was filed as a result of concerns raised by the public.

“The attorney-general is concerned that there are interested parties or persons out there who might be standing for elections, but have criminal convictions against them,” he said.

“And it’s for those reasons that the attorney-general has instructed us to file the special reference to get clarification from the Supreme Court as to whether persons who are convicted by a competent court of jurisdiction are eligible to nominate or whether they are able to stand for office.

“That special reference was filed (Tuesday) in the Supreme Court.

“This comes to light as a result of many concerns raised by the public as to this particular issue.

“We want to make sure that the Supreme Court can help us clarify this issue before or even during the election.

“Those who fall in that category should then be mindful about whether they should stand for elections. The people demand clarification on this issue.”

Tauvasa his office would be serving the reference on other persons who came under that section of the Constitution.

“We want to serve the reference so if they are interested, then they can apply to intervene in the reference.”

Tauvasa said the matter would be mentioned in court on Tuesday for directions hearing.

He also noted that the Supreme Court clarification would also assist the electoral commissioner in his work to make decisions regarding people who fell in that category.

Tauvasa said it also raised other issues with regards to whether someone cleared by the power of mercy committee was also cleared of conviction.

“Because conviction is on record and, therefore, is a matter of fact,” he said.

“Whether those people who go to the power of mercy committee and were cleared are even eligible to stand for election?”

Tauvasa said the power of mercy did not quite clean the conviction.

“All it does is provides mercy under section 103 of the Constitution,” he said.

“So, this special reference is trying to deal with the issue generally, so that all persons know where they stand in terms of elections,” he said.

SOURCE: THE NATIONAL/PACNEWS