2016 report on Criminal cases backlog

The year 2016 saw a total of 11,391 cases involving criminal matters pending before the National Court.

This was revealed in the 2016 Judges report that was recently tabled in parliament.

The general crimes cases brought over from the previous year was 8,618.

The report stated that of the 11,391 criminal cases only 1,853 were completed in 2016, leaving 9,538 cases carried forward to 2017.

“Bench warrants issued by the court for arrest of persons who have not turned up to court for mention or trial for their matters, continue to be a large and troubling issue in the overall context of disposal of criminal matters,” the report said.

At the end of 2015 there were 5,083 outstanding bench warrants pending for criminal matters. That’s a massive 57 percent.

Those pending bench warrants rose to 6,493 in 2016.

 “While judges can and do take into account the prospects of an accused person not attending court when required, it is also necessary to take into account the situation in remand facilities which are mostly overcrowded.

“The only likely long-term solution is more resources for both correctional service and police”, the report stated.

Going by the provinces, Morobe had 1,738 pending bench warrant brought into 2016. 410 new warrants registered in 2016, bringing a total caseload of 2148 cases for 2016. Of these, 329 were completed leaving 1819 carried forward to 2017.

In 2016, Waigani had a total case load of 1253 and completed 240 of those cases. Mt Hagen has 951 cases and completed only 45, carrying over 906 case into 2017. Madang had 799 and disposed of 185 cases while Wewak had 618 cases and completed 53 in 2016.

Tari completed 8 cases from a total of 51 recorded in 2016, caring over 43 to 2017 while Manus had only one case completed in 2016 out of its 126 caseload.

For matters involving Fraud and corruption matters, 2016 had 747 cases waiting to be heard at the beginning of the year. During the year, 247 cases were file, totaling to 994 cases.

235 cases were heard and completed that year, with a clearance rate of 23.6% leaving 759 cases to be brought over into 2017.

The establishment of the Special Track for Fraud and Corruption related criminal matters saw them speedily dealt with.

“This has been a successful and important development which has seen Fraud and corruption cases dealt with quickly, while witnesses were available, which might otherwise languish in the criminal list and eventually be difficult to prosecute because of the absence of witnesses,” the report stated.

Sally Pokiton