Magistrate: Police must produce search warrant

Police cannot enter private premises and conduct a search without a proper search warrant because under the Constitution, everyone is accorded the right to privacy and full protection of the law.

A magistrate at the Boroko District Court made these comments in relation to a matter that came before her on Wednesday this week.

Magistrate Laura Kuvi said police cannot enter people’s premises without a search warrants or unless they are on court pursuit.

“It’s different when they are chasing somebody and that person runs into your yard, its immediate pursuit and they can enter your premises. But It’s different when they are coming to conduct a search. They need to obtain a search warrant,” she said.

“The search warrant must also list what you are suspected to committing and what they are trying to search for so when they come on the premises they are only permitted to search for the items that are listed on the warrant. If they find something else, they can’t take it out, they have to go and take out another search warrant,” the magistrate went on to say.

“As in your case, people get intimidated a lot of time seeing police men in uniforms carrying firearms but that does not mean that you allow them to enter your premises unless they present a search warrant,” she told 26-year-old Mendii Morehari who was arrested and brought to court for being in possession of illicit spirit or homebrew.

Morehari from Lese, Malalaua, Gulf Province was arrested on Dec 22, 2016 after police confiscated eight bottles of 300mL illicit Spirit or homebrews steam from her parents’ house at Taurama Bay.

Police charged her under section 44(A) of the Distillation act. She pleaded guilty to being in possession of the homebrew items.

However,  she told the court police did not show any search warrants before they illegally entered the premises saying they were searching for some wanted men.

Her parents were not at home during the time of the search.

Magistrate Kuvi set the matter for trial on Feb 1 to give police prosecution a chance to verfy with the arresting officer if a search warrant was used.

She said if there is no warrant, or no information, the case can be dismissed because the court cannot admit her on her own admission.

 “In your case they just came and entered your gates without you knowing your rights,” Kuvi added.


Sally Pokiton