PNG: Southern Highlands Provincial Government v Somare, Chairman of the National Executive Council [2007] PGSC 2; SC854 (1 March 2007)

The government of Papua New Guinea had declared a state of emergency in the resource-rich province of Southern Highlands. The Supreme Court had to consider whether the declaration of the state of emergency was valid. The Court looked for guidance to the ECHR, the Inter-American Convention on Human Rights, and especially to the Siracusa Principles on the Limitation and Derogation Provisions in the ICCPR, which gave guidelines for when states could derogate from their ICCPR obligations so as to protect the state or populace. The Court noted that though Papua New Guinea had not ratified the ICCPR, it could provide assistance.

The Court ultimately ruled that the incidents in this case did not allow for the declaration of a state of emergency. Rather, they were “ordinary problems” which could be dealt with by ordinary criminal laws. The Court then declared the declaration of the state of emergency invalid.

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