11 Oct 2013

Legal action threatened over PNG betel nut ban

4:49 pm on 11 October 2013

Betelnut chewers in Papua New Guinea's capital, Port Moresby, are threatening to take the National Capital District governor, Powes Parkop, to court over his ban on the selling and chewing betel nut in the city.

Our correspondent reports some lawyers say the new law may be unconstitutional.

The first issue is that offenders will be dealt with in village courts but the penalties in the legislation are well beyond what those courts can impose.

The lawyers also say the law would infringe on basic constitutional rights.

Those include the right to maintain a legitimate economic or commercial interest and a right to maintain what for many is a cultural activity.