Lawyers representing the National Capital District Commission, the Speaker of Parliament and the people of the Mekeo-Kuni LLG in the Kairuku-Hiri District returned to court today to make final submissions on the facts the full court should look into.
Justice Allan David who heard the submission in the trial which he conducted to settle those disputed facts reserved his findings today.
He said he will consult with the Chief Justice and see which way the case goes before it returns for directions hearing where a date can be fixed for the actual hearing of the reference.
NCDC’s lawyer Justin Haiara said there was no evidence put before the court by witnesses in the Mekeo-Kuni LLG that Betel-nut was the only cash crop of the people in the Kairuku area.
He said no evidence was put in court by witness statements that all of PNG was included in the betel nut trade, that lives of people were lost as a result of the ban, no consultation was done with them prior to the ban taking effect, and the enforcement being done by rouge policeman engaged by NCDC who abused, harassed, and robbed them.
He said to avoid the road blocks, the people smuggled betel-nut through other means which resulted in deaths adding the problem was not created by the Betel nut control law but the people finding it hard to cope with the law.
Lawyer for the Speaker of Parliament said the Betel nut control law has not been passed nor has it been certified by the speaker of parliament.
The enforcement or control law allows for people to apply for betel nut permit or licenses and sell at designated places.
The law has since been relaxed and there are no longer road blocks conducted to check vehicles on the highway outside city limits.
Lawyer Noel Ako, who acts for the Mekeo people said the markets and proposed markets designated by NCDC for buai trade are not safe and conducive to buai sellers and is no longer open.
He said seven disputed facts were listed in the reference books before the Supreme Court which the Mekeo people are asking the court to look into.
The economic value of betel nut and the fact that it was the economic lifeline of the people prior to the betel nut control law came into effect, the fact that no proper consultation was done with them prior to the control law coming into effect and the fact that it’s gone beyond the city limit when it was intended for city residents are some of the facts they want the court to look into.