19. Comparison Between Australia and the former Territory of Papua

Paul Quinlivan’s Snapshots

In regard to Papua my task was very different. I simply had to read Murray Groves’ conclusion (p. 588 n. 39) where he said: “On the general question of native attitudes to Court procedure, it is not considered that the situation in Papua is in any way very similar to that described in Professor A P Elkin’s article, Aboriginal Evidence and Justice, Vol XVII, p.173.” And, in the text on that same page he says, “It can be safely stated, on the positive side, from observation of a large number of Papuan accused in Court, and from conversations with Papuans elsewhere, that the Papuan accused is normally aware of the law’s ‘standards’, in the sense that he knows what sorts of activity the Government discourages and for which the Government sends him before the ‘big Judge’, and also that the Papuan accused understands with some clarity ‘the consequences of the proceedings to him’. It is also considered that the alertness shown by accused in Court, the eagerness with which they give their version of the story, and the normal clarity of their testimony, indicate that they probably understand fairly well the ‘proceedings’ …. and even consider them ‘reasonable’.”
Since I had learnt that Murray Groves spoke perfect Motu and was present in all cases conducted by the Supreme Court in Papua, over a period of two years, I told my audience that this evidence is invaluable and a great credit to those responsible for the administration of the legal system. And, with pride, I repeat it here.


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