13 Jul 2009

Critic says muzzling Fiji's lawyers is part of institutional intimidation

6:09 am on 13 July 2009

A critic of Fiji's military regime says the legal fraternity has been muzzled in the latest step in the emerging pattern of intimidation of the country's institutions.

The interim regime has issued practising certificates to most of Fiji's lawyers, a role that used to belong to the independent Fiji Law Society.

Brig Lal, professor of Pacific and Asian History at Australian National University, says the lawyers have complied with the new rules out of necessity and under duress.

He says it is not a sign that the interim regime is gaining support.

"It's succeeding to the extent that you don't have any protests, any resistance on the street but there's a great deal of anxiety and confusion in the populace and I think it would be a huge mistake on the part of the interim administration to take this silence as consent because it is not."

Professor Lal says the interim government is targetting sections of society it thinks will act as a point of resistance.