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Date Posted: 16:30:11 10/26/99 Tue
In reply to:
's message, "STUDENT ACTIVISM AND UPNG CLOSURE" on 21:47:33 10/20/99 Wed
I am glad that something is being done about getting those responsible to own up for their violation of civil liberties.
I suggested this above and it seems logical that those concerned with the right of the powerless should take up the cause citizens' rights to free movement, education and work.
I hope justice is done on behalf of the intimidated and powerless folks and appropriate compensation ensues.
My hope is that future students really get down to the business of learning so that they can give back to the society within the shortest time possible.
Good on you Brian Brunton!!!
Keep up the good work!
Student leaders, uni bosses can be sued
Ex-judge says 'forced' boycott violated students' rights
By KEVIN PAMBA
PORT MORESBY: There is scope for class action against student leaders and the University of PNG administration by students and parents who feel victimised by the
ill-fated boycott of classes and the consequent closure of the Waigani campus, a former National Court judge told The National yesterday.
Brian Brunton said that the allegations of intimidation, threats and violence against students to force them to take part in the ill-fated boycott at the Waigani campus over
the 25 per cent fee increase was criminal and violated students' rights to freedom of choice, movement and speech.
Mr Brunton said the boycott featured "bully boy elements" where certain students from one part of the country, who were for the prolonged boycott, forced others to
join them even though they wanted to return to classes and address the issue diplomatically.
And Mr Brunton said the University Council was 'negligent' in not calling in the police to deal with those individuals who allegedly intimidated, threatened and assaulted
students so as to force them to take part in the boycott.
He said while under PNG laws no one has the right to education, students who were unfairly victimised by the prolonged protest and university closure can seek legal
redress, particularly through class action.
Meanwhile, the former judge cited a case in 1985 when student leaders at the Waigani campus led by then SRC president, Ume More, appeared before the National
Court at the behest of the UPNG administration, for similar offences.
In that incident, Mr More and the ring leaders were arrested by police and locked up and later appeared before the National Court.
The National Court heard in the 1985 case that "certain students of the University of PNG, over a period of ten days, forcibly disrupted lectures, erected and manned
barricades at the main entrance road and restricted entry thereto to those of their choice."
The were charged under sections 32, 37, 46, 52 and 57 of the Constitution.
The court decided in March 1985 that some of the leaders be stripped off their SRC office titles and all of them were barred from UPNG campus, Port Moresby and
Lae for the remainder of 1985.
However, a successful appeal in the Supreme Court later in the year resulted in the ruling being overturned.
Mr Brunton said the 1985 case was mishandled by the university as the students leaders' actions were not allowed to be treated as criminal by police.
Mr Brunton said what has and continues to happen at the university campuses, particularly Waigani, shows there is a need to register all student societies and the SRC
with the Registrar of Industrial Associations so that the actions that they wish to take can be carried out through a 'secret ballot'.
He said once all student groups are registered with the industrial registrar, they will make decisions only after a properly conducted secret ballot.
Mr Brunton said this will give every student their democratic freedom to choose what course of action they want to be taken on an issue.
"You can't go on strike without a secret ballot (if all student groups are registered)," Mr Brunton said.
He said it will also ensure that student leaders are held accountable for their actions.
Mr Brunton also pointed out that at present PNG laws are such that no one has "the right to education".
"You can't sue the State for not having access to education." He said the case in PNG is against international law which calls for right to education for every citizen,
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