Monday, November 02, 2009

Judge urges Aust, NZ to drop policy - Riteshni Singh

Monday, November 02, 2009

CHIEF Justice Anthony Gates has called on Australia and New Zealand to discard the policy on travel sanctions and stop interfering with members of Fiji's judiciary.

At a press conference in his judicial chambers in Suva yesterday, Justice Gates said Fiji must have a judiciary and it was not for Australia and New Zealand to say whom to appoint.

"No international convention allows for such a supervisory role to a neighbouring State," he said.

Justice Gates said policies of the international community towards countries enduring conflict has always been to build up the independent institutions of that country whatever view they took of its central government.

"Yet towards Fiji they have failed to be so constructive and supportive," Justice Gates said.

He said the governments of Australia and New Zealand had successively adopted policies of hostility towards the Government.

Mr Gates talked about Justice Anjala Wati's case in which she was refused a New Zealand visa to take her 22-month-old son to that country for treatment.

He said the visa was refused although the necessary corrective surgery was not available anywhere in Fiji.

Judges denied transit visas

Monday, November 02, 2009

SRI Lankan judges and magistrates who are expected to arrive in the country today were denied transit visas through Australia.

At a press conference in his judicial chambers in Suva yesterday, Chief Justice Anthony Gates said the Sri Lankan judges were not allowed to transit Australia and had to come through Korea.

He said the judges applied to the Australian High Commission in Colombo for transit visas and until the date of departure nothing was received from the commission.

"Later each one of the judicial officers was telephoned by a visa officer from the Australian High Commission counselling them against taking up the appointments in Fiji," Justice Gates said.

He said they were each warned that if they took up the appointments they would not be allowed to travel to Australia during their time in Fiji and they would not be allowed into Australia for medical treatment.

"The judges nonetheless resolved to carry on with their decision and to travel by a different route," Justice Gates said.

"They have been commendably brave and steadfast in doing so."

Justice Gates said some of the judges would arrive today and others would arrive in a few weeks time.

"The Sri Lankan Judicial Services Commission has permitted its judges leave of absence in order that they might serve here for two to three years," he said.

Justice Gates said if the judiciaries of Australia and New Zealand could see this interference to be clearly wrong, "I would urge such judges to speak with their parliamentary colleagues on the need for its rejection".

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