Lower Judiciary needs funding

The lower judiciary is facing funding constraints to maintain its existing facilities as well as conduct training programs to upskill magistrates.

This was made known by Chief Magistrate Nerrie Eliakim recently to Loop PNG.

The country’s Chief Justice Sir Salamo Injia also said this in Wewak during the ground breaking of the new Wewak Sub Regional Complex.

Sir Salamo said both the high and low courts have been assisted by the government but a huge share of the budget has gone to the higher judiciary.

“The lower courts seem to be struggling and the Chief Magistrate only last week gave a full account on the state of affairs in terms of budget support in the lower judiciary.

“I’m hoping the government is listening to that voice,” Sir Salamo said.

“The higher judiciary, I should say, that we are looked after very well and credit goes to successive governments, not only the current government but previous governments,” he added.

Budget support to the judiciary increased significantly around 2009 and 2010. Further budget support came from the current government in 2014.

The continuous support is now showing with the upgrading of court facilities across the country, with the major one being the K427 million project at the Waigani National Court complex. Construction is expected to be completed before the APEC meet. The Waigani District Court also has new facilities from that.

Regional court complexes are being planned. Work is already underway and budget appropriations have been made for the regional court complexes.

Sir Salamo said the government has identified K100 million for the Mt Hagen Regional Court Complex and planning now underway for the project. Planning is also underway for Lae.

For the Kokopo Regional Court, land has been secured and a design is ready.

“We are waiting for the government to give us the money to do the construction,” he added.

In terms of the Sub Regional Court complex, the new complex at Wewak is being constructed at a cost of K20 million.

“The higher judiciary and lower judiciary in most case, are sharing the responsibility to construct one stop complex facilities to cater for both.

“The National Court, given the advantage it’s in, is providing the leadership to ensure that funds are provided for construction of these one stop facilities around the provinces,” Sir Salamo went on to say.

(Loop PNG picture of the Boroko District Court, a lower judiciary facility that has been used for many years now)

Sally Pokiton