Suspended Nauru MP welcomes CJ appointment
Nauru's appointment of a new Chief Justice has been welcomed by one of the country's suspended MPs.
One of Nauru's suspended opposition MPs has welcomed the country's appointment of a new Chief Justice, saying that it will finally allow them to challenge their suspension in the Supreme Court.
Mathew Batsiua is one of the group who were banned from Parliament in May and planned to appeal the suspension to the Supreme Court once a Chief Justice was appointed.
That appointment came on Saturday, when the Justice Minister, David Adeang, announced that Fiji's former vice-President, Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi, will fill the role left vacant when Geoffrey Eames resigned after the government controversially barred him from returning to Nauru.
Two new judges have also been appointed; Mohammed Shafi Khan, a Fijian barrister who has been practising in Australia, and Jane Elizabeth Hamilton-White, an Australian who was once the principal magistrate in Solomon Islands.
Mathew Batsiua has praised the callibre of the appointments, and told Jamie Tahana that its a welcome development.
MATHEW BATSIUA: For a long time the government has unfortunately left our judicial system in limbo through their dismisal of the resident magistrate and the disallowing of the former Chief Justice [Geoffrey] Eames to come to Nauru and perform his duties as Chief Justice. Our judicial system has been without these key appointments for some time and so it is belated, but it is welcome news nonetheless that we have a Chief Justice and two other judges of the Supreme Court appointed, so that's welcome news for sure.
JAMIE TAHANA: With the circumstances of the last Chief Justice and resident magistrate, do you have any concerns about their independence or questions around their appointment?
MB: Ah look, we know of the new Chief Justice appointed, we know of his reputation, he comes with a very good reputation in the region. So we have no problems with the appointment, we see that as a benefit to our judicial system having someone of that calibre appointed to our courts. We just want to see the court system operating normally; the sooner the better.
JT: They arrive in a few weeks, we've got the cases of the asylum seekers in the detention centres and of course, the cases of you opposition MPs. You were waiting for a Chief Justice weren't you?
MB: Yes, that's right, and plus we believe there's also case against the President and the Minister of Justice for contempt of court by not adhering to the orders of the Supreme Court issued under former Chief Justice Eames, so that's another interesting case to progress under this new Chief Justice.
JT: And so as an opposition bloc, how soon will you be hoping this is picked up? Will you be hoping to meet with the new Chief Justice?
MB: No, look. we don't make it a habit to interfere or try to meet. There are normal functions that the government does hold whenever they're welcoming new people holding high offices in Nauru, so we are invited to those functions. Yeah, sure, we look forward to meeting and welcoming the new Chief Justice and the other judges to our shores, but we are equally keen to get our cases before them because we believe that we have a strong case - especially against our suspension - we believe that it is our right as members of parliament and citizens of Nauru that has been breached by the suspension of us from Parliament. We've been talking to our lawyers, getting our cases ready so as soon as the courts will allow us to make these submissions we will do that.
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