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LEGALISM RAMPANT: THE HERITAGE OF IMPOSED LAW AND THE CONSTITUTION OF PAPUA NEW GUINEA

John Goldring
Verfassung und Recht in Übersee / Law and Politics in Africa, Asia and Latin America
Vol. 12, No. 3 (1979), pp. 223-238
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/43111142
Page Count: 16
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
LEGALISM RAMPANT: THE HERITAGE OF IMPOSED LAW AND THE CONSTITUTION OF PAPUA NEW GUINEA
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Abstract

The Constitution of Papua New Guinea, which came into force when Papua New Guinea became Independent, is autochthonous. It seeks to give, of its own force, legal effect to all the statute and judge-made law of the country, so that the authority of law is in no way dependent on any colonial law in force prior to Independence. It also seeks to establish the customs of the people, which were scarcaly recognised by the legal system prior to Independence, the status of ‚underlying law' and to require the legislature and the courts to give effect to the traditions of the people. The Constitution itself calls for great significance to be attached to „Papua New Guinean Ways". The Constitution is the result of a process of popular consultation unparallelled in any other country. Despite this, the Constitution of Papua New Guinea is firmly rooted in the traditions of Western culture, specifically, the Westminster system of government and the English Common Law. It is a complicated and highly legalistic document, which depends for its enforcement on judicial review and enforcement by a court and lawyers trained in the Common Law and brought up to respect the traditions of responsible and representative government. Despite the exhortations in the Constitution to respect and enforce the traditions of the country, it is itself an instrument which requires for its effectiveness a legal culture which is not indigenous to Papua New Guinea, but is, in fact, the heritage of the Common Law which was imposed upon the country by its colonial rulers.

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