27 Sep 2006

Replacing Solomons Attorney-General could compromise judiciary's independence

3:10 pm on 27 September 2006

There is a warning that the independence of the judiciary in Solomon Islands could be compromised over the dumping and replacement of the Attorney-General.

The associate professor of governance at the University of the South Pacific, Dr Jon Fraenkel, says the appointment of Julian Moti as the attorney-general is not a good sign for a number of reasons.

Mr Moti has a murky past which includes charges of rape in Vanuatu that were eventually dismissed and being banned for interfering in local politics in Solomon Islands.

Dr Fraenkel says the former attorney-general, Primo Afeau, was dumped because he questioned the government.

"This is disturbing because one of the positive things about Solomon Islands over the last five years or so, has been that the judiciary and the legal fraternity managed to retain some independence. And, it would be a shame to see that compromised. After all, the decision to appoint Mr Moti occurred after the sacking of the previous attorney-general and that was done because of comments that he made about government policy."

Dr Fraenkel says the political situation is fluid in Solomon Islands and the motion of no confidence in the government in early October may see further changes occur.