Students application to restrain Cops on campus fails

A legal challenge by students from the University of Papua New Guinea to have the Police Commissioner recall his men on campus failed this afternoon due to lack of evidence on rights of students being infringed.

The Waigani National Court this afternoon refused an application filed by University of Papua New Guinea Student Representative Counsel seeking removal of the ‘Heavy police presence’ on campus.

The Human Rights Enforcement application came before Justice David Cannings seeking three interim orders. It was filed by the SRC’s lawyer Robbie Yansion on May 17.

They were seeking orders;

  1. Restraining vice-chancellor Prof. Albert Mellam, the UPNG Senate, Police Commissioner Gari Baki and his officers from interfering with the rights of students to assemble and hold forums on campus.
  2. Restraining Commissioner Baki from stationing his ‘armed officers’ on the campus which has been seen as a way of suppressing students’ rights and  from raising their views, and
  3. For the court to order Commissioner Baki to recall his armed men and the 50 plus vehicles from the UPNG campus within one hour.

Yansion said the students had been peacefully holding protests on campus the past two week over issues that concerns national interest and there has been no intent on the part of students to warrant heavy police presence on campus.

He relied on sections 46 of the Constitution (Freedom of expression), section 47 of the Constitution (Freedom of assembly and association) and section 52 of the Constitution (Right to freedom of movement.)

He said as it is, there are too many policemen on one campus with their presence suppressing the students’ rights to movement, gather and speak up on national issues.   

This application was however refused due to lack of evidence before the court. There was no evidence in the form of affidavit before the court apart from what was being presented from the bar table.  

In refusing interim orders, Justice Cannings said the application is ‘vague’ and does not properly state the cause of action.

He also said there is insufficient evidence before the court on whether the rights of the students were breached, how the rights were breached and who breached them.

Justice Cannings however said students are still at liberty to file another application before the same court.

(Loop PNG file picture.)

Sally Pokiton