The late Justice Regina Sagu was a close friend and colleague to everyone in the IAWJ, but especially to those in the Asia Pacific Region.
In 2012 Regina was one of the founding members of the Papua New Guinea Judicial Women’s Association which then affiliated as a National Association of the IAWJ. She went on to become President from March 2015 until her death in March 2021. The PNGWJA played a pivotal role in having domestic violence legislation enacted, for the first time in PNG, in 2013.
She was a proud daughter of Enga Province, in the Highlands of PNG. She was initially appointed as a Magistrate and became a Principal Magistrate of the District Court of PNG. In 2017 she was Director of the Centre for Judicial Excellence of the Supreme and National Court of PNG. She was appointed to the Supreme Court of PNG in March 2020 and was the first woman appointed to that Court from the Enga Province, one of only 6 women on that Court of 40 Judges overall, and one of only 3 national women Judges. In true demonstration of her humility, she did not tell anyone outside PNG of this appointment to the highest Court in PNG. We found out after her death, sadly only one year later.
She worked tirelessly promoting continuing education for the whole judiciary and was a vocal advocate for Women’s and Childrens’ rights. In 2017 she worked with the magistracy on the rules for the new Lukautim Pikinini Act, 2015, an Act based on the Convention on the Rights of the Child, extending protection to all children, including those infected/affected by HIV/AIDS, sexually and physically exploited children, children affected by conflicts and children with disabilities and which amended and replaced previous child welfare legislation in PNG.
As President of the PNGJWA she encouraged each member to achieve her best, especially to attend IAWJ Biennial and Regional Conferences all over the world and bring back to PNG the knowledge gained. With sponsorship from AAWJ and NZAWJ there have been delegations from PNG to conferences even as far back as 2008 in Panama but increasingly from 2015 under Regina’s leadership.
Regina has attended IAWJ conferences as a delegate and panellist at the Sydney Regional Conference in 2017. She was intending to lead what would have been the largest PNG delegation to Auckland in 2020. Sadly that was not possible but her leadership, tenacity and spirit will live on in the increasing number of women Judges in PNG who she has mentored and promoted and the increasing membership base of the PNGJWA. There are now almost 40 members of the PNGJWA
Papua New Guinea and the world generally is a better place because of the contribution of Justice Regina Sagu, especially women Judges and women and children generally and the IAWJ. All of us and women Judges in PNG especially will miss her leadership and energy but, because of that, will continue her work.