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Effective Administration of the Police and Prosecution in Criminal Justice of Papua New Guinea (From UNAFEI Annual Report for 2001 and Resource Material Series No. 60, P 158-163, 2003, Sean Eratt, ed. -- See NCJ-201693)

NCJ Number
John Maru
Date Published
February 2003
6 pages
This paper discusses the following aspects of the administration of criminal justice in Papua New Guinea (PNG): separation of powers, the five pillars of the criminal justice system, and procedures in the administration of justice, including recommendations for improving it.
The PNG constitution divides the government into three equal and coordinated branches: the legislative, executive, and the judiciary, with each being supreme within its respective sphere. The executive branch is responsible for the administration of justice through law enforcement and prosecution agencies as well as the judiciary and correctional institutions. The agency responsible for law enforcement is the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary. The public prosecutor's office is the principal agency in charge of the prosecution of suspects and is under the control of the Minister for Justice. The office of the ombudsman is responsible for the investigation and prosecution of certain crimes that involve public officials or those connected with the performance of public functions. Thus, the five pillars of the criminal justice system are law enforcement, the public prosecutor, the judiciary, correctional institutions, and the community. The police are responsible for investigating crimes, including taking the testimony of witnesses, collecting available evidence, and apprehending the offender. When the police believe sufficient evidence has been obtained to prove a case, the findings of the investigation are forwarded to the police prosecution unit, which assesses the strength of the case and whether proper procedures were followed. If the case is deemed solid, it is then filed at the courthouse. Police prosecutors handle all minor criminal matters at the local or the district court level. Serious criminal matters are typically referred through a grade 5 district court magistrate to the public prosecutor's office to determine whether the case should be referred to a national court for trial. The public prosecutor takes over the case processing at this stage. This paper describes the judicial process and explains remedies for the accused. Also discussed are inefficiency in court proceedings, jail overcrowding, and strategies for addressing jail overcrowding and its consequences. Some recommendations are to decriminalize some minor offenses, encourage out-of-court settlements, greater use of bail, discouragement of custodial sentencing for minor offenses, and separate jail facilities for remandees and convicted offenders.