WARMIL KRAL *
PORT MORESBY – The criminal justice system exists to apprehend, prosecute, sentence and punish people who commit crimes.
There are many notorious braggarts in Papua New Guinea who boast they have murdered but avoided the criminal justice system.
Gaol is not for me, they say.
Of course there are dedicated and honest professionals in the system, but they are a minority.
The bulk are filthily corrupt, and use the resources and authority vested in them by the State to satisfy their craving for money as they vigorously pursue their own personal interests, not those of the people.
I have witnessed many cases where those who have committed horrendous crimes so easily escape scrutiny and return to the safety of their tribesmen where they are harboured.
Many victims and relatives of victims lament their unsuccessful fight for justice.
Emotional public reaction to high profile murders, media proclamations and protest marches have no effect.
There are many women throughout our country who have been chopped and buried in pit toilets; some beheaded, others terribly tortured or burned.
Then there are those who managed to cling on to life and kept a fruitless vigil for justice.
Menfolk too experience similar fates where they are cheated of a fair hearing and justice.
Brutal murders happen in our country, often in remote places beyond the daily newspapers and the justice system.
A year after the torture and brutal murder of 19-year old mother Jenelyn Kennedy, someone recently raped, sliced and murdered his wife and escaped the clutches of the criminal justice system.
The man was taken out of remand, driven to the airport and placed safely on a plane to his tribal lands.
How could people who made an oath to uphold the rule of law use State resources to take a dangerous human being to the airport and bid him farewell and good luck.
In May, we read of a medical doctor and two others allegedly involved in the murder of Imelda in the Southern Highlands.
They were caught with her body in a car, but the criminal justice system did no due diligence and the suspects were released.
The entire country was furious that the criminal justice system had failed so lamentably, but the criminal justice system seems beyond shame.
In October, two Port Moresby mothers were almost murdered by a drunken thug for refusing to give him a crate of beer on credit.
The thug swung an iron bar that smashed the mothers’ heads. They escaped death but were severely injured.
Bystanders failed to help but stood back and enjoyed the scene as if watching a professional bout.
The thug then ransacked the women’s store and fed the whole neighborhood with its contents.
People feasted, drank the grog, sold the deep freezer and coolers and destroyed two houses.
There were two police stations nearby that did not act, claiming they lacked cars and fuel. Another police unit eventually picked up the case and arrested the thug.
But just an hour after he was in police custody as he was about to be charged, a tribesman, a bent copper, walked into the station and got him thug released.
Another officer who saw this then re-arrested the thug but later in the day he was let out of the cells and now roams freely in the neighbourhood.
I feel for the two mothers who are now back home with their children and abandoned seeking justice. They lack powerful connections and they lack money. Being a woman in PNG means you live a tough life.
A born-again Christian from the thug’s side came with bible in his hand and blamed two boys who had given the thug grog and the two mothers for seeking redress.
At no time did the self-proclaimed Christian say the thug was at fault.
Women and every citizen have the right to roam freely without being stalked and assaulted. They have the right to seek justice and redress from a strong, fair, and competent system.
However, the criminal justice system is so entrenched in corruption that one must push money at every junction to either acquit or gaol. It’s the money that does the work.
At present, peace mediation is a popular concept around the country.
The common people queue up seeking a win-win situation to avoid an obsolete, corrupt and expensive criminal justice system.
Peace mediation has some downsides, but seems to serve the needs of the oppressed who are seeking an ounce of justice.
These failures of the criminal justice system at times impel people to take the law into their own hands.
And that is neither justice nor the law but barbaric retribution plain and simple.
The citizens of PNG now know that the State no longer provides justice. Justice is inaccessible to them.
In the Independent State of Papua New Guinea, if you lack powerful connections and money, you are on your own.
Even prime minister James Marape inadvertently confirmed this after the death of Jenelyn Kennedy.
"Laws and policies alone are not sufficient," he said. "Individual and collective will is needed to change society."
* Warmil Kral is the nom de guerre of a senior Papua New Guinean public servant