28 Feb 2012

Law group questions independence of Fiji prosecutors

8:25 pm on 28 February 2012

A British law group has found the competence and independence of Fiji's prosecution service has been reduced to an unacceptable level.

Chairperson of the Law Society Charity Nigel Dodd interviewed lawyers, former judges and prosecutors in Fiji in November 2011.

He says after a series of dismissals, the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions has become populated with newly-qualified lawyers and lawyers imported from Sri Lanka and that independent judgement is seen as undesirable.

Mr Dodd says the independence of current judges is also in doubt.

He says it is not clear how judges are appointed and that checks and balances have been undermined.

Mr Dodd says the Fiji Law Society has been removed from the process and with judges on short-term contracts it makes it difficult for them to be demonstrably independent.

Legal professionals, he says, that are perceived as being opposed to the interim Government are suffering financially for not toeing the line.