OC seeks clarification of leadership tribunal process

The Ombudsman Commission has filed a reference asking the Supreme Court’s clarification on when a leader can be suspended from office when a Leadership Tribunal is appointed by the Chief Justice.

It is also seeking the interpretation on whether strict rules of evidence should be complied with when a leader’s conduct becomes subject to a Leadership Tribunal.

The case briefly came for mention today before Supreme Court for directions.

Justice Collin Makail adjourned the matter to next week after he allowed Prime Minister Peter O’Neill and Speaker of Parliament, Theo Zurenuoc, to be joined as parties in the reference.

Counsel to the Ombudsman Commission, Dr Vergil Narokobi, told the court that the reference firstly seeks interpretation of conflicting Supreme Court decisions on the issue of a leader’s suspension.

It wants the court to clarify when a leader can be suspended. It needs explanation on whether automatic suspension can take effect once the Chief Justice appoints a Leadership Tribunal, or on the day the allegations are presented by the Public Prosecutor before members of a tribunal.

OC also wants the Supreme Court to interpret amendments done to the Organic Law on Duties and Responsibilities of Leaders under section 27(4) and whether strict rules of evidence must be complied with in Leadership Tribunal inquiries. 

Sally Pokiton