Deported Nauru magistrate rejects govt statement on dismissal
The deported Nauru magistrate has rejected the government statement on reasons for his dismissal.
The resident magistrate deported by the Nauru government on Sunday says the stated reasons for his sudden dismissal totally lack substance.
Magistrate Peter Law was sacked on Sunday and deported back to Australia while Chief Justice Geoffrey Eames' visa has been withdrawn.
The Government says it dismissed Peter Law because it lost confidence in him, and that it received complaints against Mr Law including for inappropriate behaviour towards staff, and drunk and disorderly behaviour.
Peter Law told Johnny Blades he had no opportunity to address these or other allegations that he interferred in cases, some of which relate to injunctions he granted against the deportation of three business people.
PETER LAW: I have no idea what they're talking about. In three years working in Nauru, there's been one appeal against my decisions. One appeal against all of those decisions I've made as magistrate, the orders I've given as registrar and as chairman of the family court. There's been one appeal and that appeal was dismissed.
JOHNNY BLADES: The Rod Henshaw case, he was a government media spokesman at some stage in Nauru - is it the case that he wasn't in with this current government?
PL: Exactly, that's my summation. I can only assume that because now, for some reason, the government has declared him a prohibited immigrant. He hasn't been involved in the media since June last year when the government that was elected at that time didn't renew his contract as the Director of Media. So he set about setting up a business to run a bar in the hotel. Now he came to court after he was given this deportation order, seeking the assistance of the court and seeking to review the minister's decision. Now he's got the right to do that. The decision I made, I stated he did have that power, that could be made available to him and I said I was going to put it before the Chief Justice or the next Supreme Court sitting, and granted a temporary injunction in the meantime. Now that decision could have been subject to an appeal. The government has not appealed the decision but then turned around and, ten days later, sacked me and imposed another magistrate.
JB: Have you had any dealings with asylum seeker cases, for instance the damages that were caused by the riot or unrest [at the asylum seeker detention centre] last year? There were some pending cases, I think.
PL: Well yes, I've been managing those cases through court and I had started to set those matters down for hearing. It was in everybody's interests to have the matters properly dealt with. So it was a disappointment for me when, after giving assurances to all the asylum seekers who had come in before the court on various occasions that it would be an open court, that I'd made court orders that their names or identities couldn't be disclosed but that the court would be accountable because journalists or the press would be available to report on the proceedings. Now the decision by the government to impose an eight-thousand dollar visa on foreign journalists suggests to me they didn't want to have an open court.
Peter Law says the government statement about him is defamatory and he is considering legal action.
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