30 Aug 2006

Fiji judge hints at corruption in judiciary

6:56 pm on 30 August 2006

A Fiji High Court judge says it would be naïve to believe that judicial corruption does not exist.

The Daily Post says that Justice Nazhat Shameem made the comment when she addressed the UNDP organized regional "Seminar on Public Service Ethics and Accountability" in Suva last night.

Justice Shameem said in order to minimize corruption within the judicial system a code of conduct needs to be in place.

She said even more important is the need for security in tenure of judges.

Justice Shameem said "judges who are secure in tenure, who know they cannot be removed administratively, are more likely to have the confidence to write judgments without fear or favour."

She added that Fiji has a good system of selecting judges determined by the constitution, but not all public service appointments are as transparent or clear.

Justice Shameem said it is only when an appointment is challenged in court that there is an obligation to disclose the appointment process.

She said "there is a wonderful term in Fiji to describe nepotism, favouritism and queue-jumping - it is called 'who you know'."

Justice Shameem also acknowledged the role of the media in judicial transparency, saying "a judge with a journalist at the back of the courtroom behaves himself or herself."