14 Sep 2007

Fiji Human Rights Commissioner deplores attack on three New Zealand lawyers

10:22 am on 14 September 2007

A human rights commissioner in Fiji says a personal attack on three New Zealand lawyers by the director of Fiji's Human Rights Commission has brought the Commission into disrepute.

Dr Shaista Shameem described the three constitutional lawyers as dinosaurs amongst other things, after they criticised a report she had written in which she claimed the 2006 coup was legal.

The lawyers said her report should not be taken seriously; that its reasoning was flawed and that the opinion the coup was a legal takeover was in conflict with the Constitution of Fiji.

Human rights commissioner, Shamima Ali, says Dr Shameem's attack on the lawyers was vitriolic and unprofessional.

"Her outbursts are quite irrational. Only she is right and nobody else. Well that has seriously compromised the Human Rights Commission and compromised its independence from a Human Rights Commission that was admired and a guiding light for the Pacific. People here just don't have faith in the Commission anymore, they just don't have faith and she has brought the Commission into disrepute."