Thirty judges gathered in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, on 23 and 24 February to discuss issues facing the judicial system and their role in delivering justice.
The seminar on judicial independence and judicial ethics was organised by the Papua New Guinea Judiciary and the Papua New Guinea Centre for Judicial Excellence in conjunction with the Commonwealth Secretariat.
The aim of the course was to provide the judges with a framework to analyse and resolve issues of judicial independence and ethics that may arise in the course of their duties.
The Chief Justice of Papua New Guinea, Sir Salamo Injia KT, led all judges of the National and Supreme Courts of Papua New Guinea in attending the seminar.
The Latimer House Principles were developed in June 1998 by a group of parliamentarians, judges, lawyers and legal academics to provide an operational manual of good practice in relation to the Commonwealth’s fundamental values of promoting democracy and good governance, human rights and the rule of law.
In December 2003 they were endorsed by Commonwealth Heads of Government and form part of the Commonwealth’s fundamental values.
Jillian Battersby, Deputy British High Commissioner, delivered opening remarks.
Judges discussed real life scenarios in areas such as conduct at court; abstaining from legal proceedings due to a conflict of interest and disclosure; extra judicial activities; gifts and favours; external influences; and human rights.
Other issues considered included whether it is appropriate for a judge to join the social networking site Facebook; solicit for charity; or publicly criticise government policy.
The seminar opened with an address by Mr Justice Carl Singh OR CCH, Chancellor of the Supreme Court of Judicature of Guyana, on the Commonwealth (Latimer House) Principles on the Three Branches of Government.
Judges from the National and Supreme Courts led the discussions with contributions from Mr Justice Singh and District Judge Shamim Qureshi, of England and Wales and Director of Programmes of the Commonwealth Magistrates’ and Judges’ Association.
“The seminar contributed towards building public confidence in the judiciary and strengthening the citizen’s expectation that should they go to court they will receive a fair hearing,” said Mark Guthrie, Legal Adviser at the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Division (LCAD) of the Secretariat.