Central Province leads the way in bench warrant execution

Central Province has become a role model province that is leading the way in executing bench warrants the court has issued for defendants who have not been attending their court cases.

This has been attributed to community involvement, says criminal judge Justice Panuel Mogish.

“There is too much talk and not enough action. Central Province is leading the way in executing bench warrants.”

He said while the country’s focus was on its problems and at Waigani over the past four weeks, there are positive developments in Central province, especially with the courts. 

Community involvement has made the province lead the way in the execution of bench warrants, compared to other provinces, including the National Capital District.

Bench warrant or arrest warrant is an order issued by the court for the arrest of an individual by police, either for questioning, contempt or absconding bail conditions.

He said the olive branch is out to those who know they have not turned up in court and he wants them to hand themselves in to local police as the court system had also failed them.

Justice Mogish explained once a person has been committed to stand trial in the National Court, the court must deal with it within four months. This had not happened, resulting in people absconding their bail conditions and not turning up in court.

Some had simply given up from continuous adjournments.

He also attributed the success with the use of court user forums that he and his team had been doing through the concept of ‘justice on wheels’.

They call it ‘justice on wheels’ by traveling on vehicles and moving into areas where justice is not delivered.

Moreguina, Kwikila and Bereina are areas in the province that they have visited. Tapini in the Goilala area is the next destination. 

It’s an approach the judge has taken, especially with criminal matters before the National Court.

On Friday, Justice Mogish and his team travelled to Bereina, where a court sitting was conducted there for the first time this year. There a court user forum was also conducted after as a way of engaging with the community.

Five people who had been out on bench warrants for over 28 years appeared at the brief court sitting at Bereina. Four of them had bench warrants issued against them by the court in 1988 while one in 1994.

They all turned up in court with the help of the community, after a list of bench warrant was issued to the local leaders.

Justice Mogish also encouraged others who were still at large to turn up for his next sitting in September.


(Caption: Justice Panuel Mogish, PPC Central Laimo Asi and NCD/Central Commander Sylvester Kalaut in Bereina on Friday.) 

Sally Pokiton