Tuesday, April 17, 2007

‘Rule of law in tatters’ - Fiji Judiciary Corrupted by Military

www.fijidailypost.com -16-Apr-2007

A REPORT by the Law Association for Asia and the Pacific (LAWASIA) has concluded that the rule of law in Fiji may be compromised due to uncertainties surrounding the status of the judiciary.

The report was prepared after a LAWASIA Observer Mission visited the country from March 25-28 to asses the Fiji situation in regards to the rule of law and independence of the judiciary.

The mission was also to consider how the association could support and promote the interests of the Fiji Law Society and the legal community as a whole, and how to assist in ensuring the protection of human rights in Fiji.

One of the important issues that the mission raised was in regards to the status of the suspended Chief Justice Daniel Fatiaki, recommending that any charges against him “to be particularised” and be addressed through Section 138(3) of the Constitution.

The report noted that many legal issues “cannot be properly assessed without an understanding of a complex series of events dating back to 2000.”

The observer mission suggested that the issues could be effectively addressed unless a pragmatic approach was adopted which acknowledged “the realities of the present and which focuses on the future.”

The mission also concluded that an international effort was required to provide assistance to the Fiji courts to overcome a current lack of resources.

LAWASIA has called for members of the legal profession to be entitled to speak openly on important legal issues without feat of intimidation by the military.

The Observer Mission had met with members of the Interim Government, military, judiciary and Fiji Law Society leaders during its visit.

LAWASIA is a professional association of representatives of bar councils, law associations, individual lawyers, law firms and corporations from the Asia Pacific region.

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