UN human rights chief concerned over PNG stand-off

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay has also raised alarm over reports that several journalists had been attacked. [AFP]
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UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay has also raised alarm over reports that several journalists had been attacked. [AFP]

Last Updated: Fri, 27 Apr 2012 20:05:00 +1000

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has raised concerns the ongoing political unrest in Papua New Guinea could threaten the rule of law.

The government of Peter O'Neill has been involved in a stand-off with the country's judiciary, since late last year, when the Supreme Court ruled that the removal from office of the previous prime minister, Sir Michael Somare, was unlawful.

It has created a controversial Judicial Conduct Law, which would allow parliament to suspend judges it deems of being biased, including the country's Chief Justice, Sir Salamo Injia.

UN Human rights chief Navi Pillay has issued a statement, raising concerns over government interference in the judiciary.

"One after another, the executive and parliament have taken very worrying steps to interfere with judicial independence," she said.

"It appears that the Judicial Conduct Act is being used to interfere in particular with the legal proceedings to determine the legality of the current administration," she said.

"The judiciary must be allowed to operate free from external pressures, threats or executive or legislative interference - international law is clear on this matter."

Ms Pillay has also raised alarm over reports that several journalists had been attacked.

She's called called for "prompt investigations".

"Papua New Guinea is on a slippery path to upending the constitutional order and undermining the rule of law," she said.

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