NICTA Act prosecution need to be clear

There is an uncertainty amongst the District Courts on who has the right to prosecute cases of offenses charged under the new NICTA Act.

Whilst there has been an increasing number of cases listed before the Waigani Committal Court on the improper use of ICT services, who is responsible for the prosecution of those cases is yet to be finalised.

This will have to be finalised between the office of the Public Prosecutor, the Police Prosecution office and the National Information & Communications Technology Authority.

The NICTA act includes the abuse of ICT services to insult or cause annoyance to another person.

Senior Magistrate at the Waigani Committal Court Cosmas Bidar said offenses under the National Information and Communications Technology (NICTA)Act are not indictable offenses but can be dealt with as summary offenses at the District Court.

 “It does not have to go through the committal process although the penalties are quite stiff.

The penalties under the offense are either imprisonment not exceeding three months or a fine not exceeding K20, 000.

Bidar made these comments when adjourning two cases charged under the NICTA act to March 9 to give time to police prosecution to liaise with NICTA and confirm who is to prosecute the cases.

Two offenders who appeared in Court Melcy Likita and Maureen Agavi for separate offense had their cases adjourned.

Likita was charged for sending obscene text messages through the mobile phone while Agavi was charged for uploading obscene photos through her mobile phone on social media site Facebook.

In the meantime such offenses have been heard at the Waigani Committal Court and Bidar said the Police Prosecutor’s office and NICTA will have to decide where and who will be prosecuting the cases.

“At the moment there is some confusion, some members of the Police Force think that offenses under section 266 are indictable offenses, they are not, and they are simple offenses. They don’t go through committal process. They should be prosecuted summarily,” he said.  

 Summary offense cases are dealt with at the Boroko District Court.

The purpose of the Committal court is to establish if there is sufficient evidence and commit for trial at the National Court.

Section 266 of the NICTA act is the charge of the improper use of ICT services. A person who, by means of an ICT service – (a) sends any content or communication that the person knows is offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character; or National Information and Communications Technology 2009 - 160 –

(b) for the purpose of causing annoyance, inconvenience or needless anxiety to another person – (i) sends any content or communication, that he knows to be false; or (ii) persistently makes use of that ICT service with that intended purpose, is guilty of an offence.

Penalty – A fine not exceeding K20,000.00 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three (3) months or both.


Sally Pokiton