Magisterial Services

Judiciary saddened at judge passing

 A sad day indeed for the judiciary and members of the legal fraternity are deeply saddened at the untimely passing of the judge who was serving his second 10-year term as a National and Supreme Court judge.

Chief Justice, Sir Salamo Injia has released an official statement regarding the death, extending the judiciary’s condolence to his wife, Sandy Lenalia, children and relatives.

The late judge passed on today at 1:30am from the Pacific International Hospital after suffering from a heart attack. He was medevac to Port Moresby on Saturday.

Lower Judiciary needs funding

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.

​Ageing workforce a challenge

Papua New Guinea has a total of 92 magistrates, which includes the Chief Magistrate and her two deputies.

Eliakim says most magistrates serving on the bench have had more than 10 years of service.

“For me that is frightening, it basically tells me that the court has a huge number of magistrates who are ageing,” says Eliakim.

Chief Magistrate Eliakim says they have tried to correct the ageing gap in its workforce by recruiting magistrates since she took office in 2014.

​92 magistrates in POM for meet

Chief Magistrate Nerrie Eliakim highlighted this when opening a three-day meet for magistrates across the country yesterday morning.

A total of 92 magistrates are in Port Moresby for a workshop that will focus on designing a transformation program for the magisterial services and district court that will assist magistrates manage and dispose cases efficiently.

A transformation program will be designed during the meet that will help address case backlogs and other issues magistrates face on the bench, with regards to standards and targets.   

​District courts need funding for new home

This is because it has not secured funding for the construction.

On 15 December 2015, the Magisterial Services launched its Corporate Plan 2016-2020.

One of the main priorities outlined in the plan was to work towards having that court complex up by 2020 so all the district court cases can be heard in the same building.

The Australian Government, through its Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) program, assisted the Magisterial Service with the full cost of the master design of the new court complex.

New facility sees first court sitting

The Magisterial Services moved into the new building last month and the first court sitting for 2017 was heard on Tuesday.

Wednesday morning saw 24 custody matters come for mention before Magistrate Mekeo Gauli, most of which were defendants arrested over the Christmas and New Year period.

The new facility has four courtrooms and separate holding cells for male and female detainees, a feature which the old district court building did not have.

Magistrate Services plans for new ‘home’

A four storey building is being designed and will be fully funded by the Australian Government. 

The court complex  is still in the planning stage with architects completing the design.

The master plan will be presented to the Magisterial services by February 2016 before tenders go out for the construction phase.

Land has been allocated for the new Magisterial Services Court complex which is next to the main National and Supreme Court Building at Waigani which is also undergoing construction for the new court complex.

Magisterial services allocated K38 million

As many departments and government agencies are apprehensive about the cuts to their recurrent or day to day budgets for 2016, the Magisterial Services will have to work with an allocated K38 million in 2016.

Minister for Justice and Attorney General Ano Pala in a statement, said from a requested budget of about K48 million in 2016, the Magisterial Services was only allocated K38 million, a shortfall of about K12 million.

Senior magistrates call it a day

Retiring principal magistrates Stephen Oli, Regget Marum, Kewei Kawi’iu and Seri Seneka have served a total of 160 years of experience in total between them (40 years each).

Through their 40 years of service, they have served at various postings around the country as well as Solomon Islands and Vanuatu.

Today their wives and families were also acknowledged for years of selfless dedication and commitment for the years of supporting the magistrates in their years of distinguished service.