Editorial, Post Courier 30th July 2007.

Yali’s election a mockery of law

THE election of convicted rapist and former Madang Governor James Yali raises serious questions about the law which need to be addressed.

Under a technicality in law, Yali was allowed by the Electoral Commission to contest the 2007 general elections on the basis that he has appealed against his conviction. His appeal is still before the Supreme Court and it is not known when the court will hear his case.

In the event that the appeal is not successful, he returns to jail and a by-election is held for the Rai Coast Open seat. However should his appeal be upheld by the court, then Yali becomes a free man and continues to be the Member for Rai Coast.

While he was allowed to contest the elections because of his appeal, we suggest that the law needs to be reviewed to ensure that convicted prisoners serving time in jail should not be allowed to contest a public office regardless of whether they appeal against their conviction. The law should forbid them from standing for public office until their appeal is heard and determined by the higher court.

Should the court uphold an appeal then the person concerned can always stand for public office at other times in future. He is a prisoner and must remain behind bars. We commend the Commissioner for Correctional Services Richard Sikani for stating that Yali will not be allowed to leave the jail to go to Parliament to take his oath of office when Parliament meets. He will need to seek a higher court order to allow him to attend Parliament.

It is our view that Yali should not be allowed to hold the Bible in his hand and swear to God that he will uphold the Constitution of the Independent State of Papua New Guinea and the laws of Papua New Guinea as a Member of Parliament.

It is the same Constitution and the same laws that Yali swore to uphold when he first entered Parliament in 2002 and then breached his own oath to commit a serious crime against a young woman as found by a court of law. If this is not making a mockery of the law and the Constitution of Papua New Guinea then what is? What message is being sent to the women of Papua New Guinea when a convicted rapist is allowed to take the oath of office in Parliament?

More so, which leader will Yali cast his vote for to become the next Prime Minister? This is the first time Papua New Guinea has been faced with a situation like this and it should alert the new Government to do something soon to prevent another situation of this nature in future.

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About rodney itaki

Medical doctor and public health specialist from Papua New Guinea.
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