15 Aug 2008

Former Fiji judge critical of judiciary under military regime

3:46 pm on 15 August 2008

A former judge in Fiji has denounced Fiji's military-backed government for making it impossible for judges to have judicial effect.

New Zealand barrister Gerard Winter, who left the Fiji High Court in January, says he would be in breach of his original oath of office if he had accepted a renewed commission from the military-backed regime.

Mr Winter has told the newspaper, The Australian, that he supports the views of Australia's incoming chief justice Robert French, who also chose not to renew his commission in Fiji.

Mr Winter says to accept an appointment from the unelected military government as the risk to the maintenance of the rule of law was too great a price to pay.

Mr Winter, who was a member of the Fiji High Court before the 2006 military coup, said his decision to leave the court was a personal one.

Justice French used similar words in May when he revealed he would not accept a renewed commission in Fiji.