The head of the Fiji Law Society says a government decree giving coup leaders immunity from prosecution makes a mockery of the claim that judges are now completely independent.
The decree, dated 22 March, gives total immunity to those involved with the coups in 2000 and 2006, and last year's scrapping of the constitution.
Fiji Law Society's president Dorsami Naidu says the move to limit liability is a response to the military's failure to challenge a court decision awarding compensation to a man who was tortured during the coup in 2000.
"The Prime Minister is said to have said that we now have an independent judiciary, and then one reads this - one wonders."
Mr Naidu says as well as offering complete retrospective protection, the decree appears to offer protection for any future actions.
The 2000 coup perpetrators, led by George Speight, also gave themselves immunity for their actions but Commodore Bainimarama later reneged on the deal and had them arrested.
'Law unto themselves'
The spokesman for a Fiji pro-democracy group based in Auckland, Nik Naidu, believes those in power won't allow free elections unless they have immunity from prosecution.
Mr Naidu, of the Coalition for Democracy in Fiji, says the decree will allow the regime to literally get away with murder in some cases.
He says the country's leaders are "the law unto themselves", have imposed draconian legislation and have the guns to back it up.
Apart from making those in power feel their actions are legitimised, Mr Naidu says, the decree won't change the reality on the ground in Fiji.