21 Apr 2009

UN condemns events in Fiji, but rules out sanctions

8:52 pm on 21 April 2009

The United Nations says it has no plans so far to sanction Fiji.

The UN Security Council was briefed on Monday on the abrogation of Fiji's Constitution on 10 April.

Council president Claude Heller of Mexico says the UN is gravely concerned with the abolition of the constitution, and the sacking of its judiciary after a ruling by Court of Appeal that the interim regime was illegal.

Mr Heller says it's a backwards step for Fiji and the UN wants elections to be held.

Fiji has been under military control since December 2006. It was the fourth coup since 1987.

Court documents shredded

Meanwhile, the Fiji Law Society says it has learned that documents concerning the interim Government dating back to 2006 are being shredded.

The society says it marks a sad day for the judiciary.

Eight magistrates and a chief magistrate were sworn in by President Ratu Josefa Iloilo on Monday.

He sacked the previous judiciary after the Court of Appeal ruled the interim government was illegal on 9 April.

However, no chief justice has been named and no appointments have been made to the high court or supreme court.

A former Fiji Court of Appeal judge says the government may be trying to get new judges from Hong Kong and Malaysia.

Francis Douglas told Morning Report it will be very hard to convince New Zealand and Australian retired judges to take up those positions.

Solicitor-General re-appointed

A New Zealand lawyer, Christopher Pryde, has been reappointed Solicitor-General of Fiji.

Mr Pryde says he rejects criticism from the New Zealand Law Society that lawyers should not accept office with a regime found to be unlawful.

He says it's important for Fiji that there is minimum disruption to government services and that people assist the country to get back on its feet and restore the rule of law.

Mr Pryde has also rejected criticism from the Fiji Law Society, saying it has been successively compromised over the last two years and is a shadow of its former self.

But a former president of the Fiji Law Society, Graham Leung says he doesn't accept the Solicitor General's argument.

He says the more support the regime gets from judges, lawyers and magistrates, the more likely it is to consider that there is nothing wrong with what it has attempted to do."