4 Mar 2009

IBA highlights concerns about influence of Fiji regime over judges, lawyers and the media

11:39 am on 4 March 2009

An international legal organisation has called for elections in Fiji at the earliest possible opportunity.

In a report out today, called Dire Straits; A Report on the Rule of Law in Fiji, the International Bar Association highlights concerns about the interim regime's efforts to influence the judiciary, the legal profession and the media in Fiji.

Don Wiseman reports:

"The IBA says the case of the former Chief Justice Daniel Fatiaki is particularly alarming. Mr Fatiaki was removed from office in January 2007, and forced to take leave under duress. Subsequently charged with a range of misconduct offences he was subjected to a delayed disciplinary process which was eventually dissolved as part of a 'settlement' between him and the regime in December last year Another concern is the conduct of judges who have been appointed or promoted following the 2006 coup and who have heard cases that relate to the constitutionality of their own appointments. This, it says, breaches the law of recusal, which prohibits judges from presiding over a matter in which he or she holds an interest. The interim regime had barred the IBA on two occasions from entering Fiji, forcing it to conduct its investigation by teleconference with a range of stakeholders in Fiji and overseas."