by Serah Aupong – EM TV, Port Moresby
The attack of a lawyer on the premises of the National and Supreme courts on Monday is seen as an attack on Papua New Guinea’s justice system.
Members of the PNG Law Society told EM TV that for the good of our country’s development, our judicial system must remain strong and such attacks should not become a trend.
McRonald Nale was allegedly attacked on Monday by supporters of the opposing party of a court case he was working on. One of the dailies carried the story yesterday that detailed the attack on Mr Nale.
He was reportedly beaten and threatened outside court house after the court hearing.
“It’s an attack on the legal profession,” Martin Kombri, principal lawyer at Kombri and Associates says.
His colleagues Ralph Saulep, a principal lawyer at Saulep Lawyers and Desmond Kiap of Twivey Lawyers, agreed, saying the law fraternity will not tolerate such actions.
According to the lawyers this is not the first time this has happened.
A similar incident occurred last year, involving lawyer Sam Bonner, who was allegedly assaulted by police.
The lawyers say tough action needs to be taken to deter this from happening again, such as contempt charges against those who assault lawyers and judges.
Another deterrent, they say, should be an amendment in the criminal code that carries special assault charges against lawyers and members of the judicial system. Changes should also be made to the Lawyers Act to provide further protection for lawyers.
This issue brings into question the security provided at the court premises.
“We welcome the crowds that attend court hearings, because our judicial system is an open one, but security at the court premises need to be beefed up to control these crowds,” Mr Saulep says.
“We should be going to court without fear; security should not be an issue, but now it has become an issue,” adds Mr Kombri.
At the moment, the PNG Law Society is in the process of appointing new executives; however, the trio called for a petition to be collated and given to the government that captures their grievances.