PNG court orders police chief David Manning to vacate office

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Police Commissioner David Manning .... warning against policemen "flouting the law". Image: The National

By Zedaiah Kanau in Port Moresby

Papua New Guinea’s Waigani National Court has ordered Police Commissioner David Manning to vacate the office by noon Friday because he lacks the tertiary qualification required for the post.

Justice David Cannings upheld a judicial review application filed by former senior police officers Sylvester Kalaut and Fred Yakasa who had applied with Manning for the position in 2019.

Manning will also have to vacate the position of Secretary to the Police Department by noon Friday after the court found that his appointment was unlawful because of “the absence of a tertiary qualification”.

Justice Cannings said: “It was an error of law and ultra vires on the part of the Public Services Commission to, without highlighting the issue surrounding the absence of tertiary qualifications, include David Manning in its preferred list of candidates, knowing that the successful candidate would be appointed to two positions and it being clear that Manning was not qualified for one of those positions (secretary for the Department of Police).”

Justice Cannings said they were two separate positions.

“The fact that the position of commissioner is the dominant position created by the Constitution does not mean that the qualifications for appointment to that position (which do not include possession of tertiary qualifications) override or subsume the qualifications for appointment as Secretary for the Department of Police.

“Rather it is the case that the qualifications for appointment as Secretary for the Department of Police are in addition to the qualifications for appointment as Commissioner of Police.”

Justice Cannings quashed both appointments published in the National Gazette on Dec 10, 2019. The order will take effect on Jan 29 at noon to allow the respondent parties time to take steps to avoid uncertainty in superintendence, efficient organisation and control of the police force.

The court found that Manning had no tertiary qualification (degree) from a recognised university while Kalaut held a Bachelor of Laws degree (with honours) from the University of Papua New Guinea (UPNG) and Yakasa a Bachelor of Arts degree, also from UPNG.

The three were among the 18 candidates who had applied for the position.

Manning was appointed on 10 December 2019 for a period of four years.

He said outside court that he was going to seek legal advice on the court ruling.

He urged police officers to continue with their duties while he sorted out the matter.

Prime Minister Marape seeks legal advice
The National’s Miriam Zarriga reports that Prime Minister James Marape said Cabinet would seek legal advice on the court ruling.

“(It was a collective decision) when we appointed Manning in the first place,” he said.

“I have not received a full advice from our lawyers on the decision which was cabinet’s collective decision when we appointed Manning.

“Due process was complied with for his appointment.

“But if the court feels otherwise, then we will study the decision before I respond.”

Asia Pacific Report republishes The National articles with permission.

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