17 Jan 2007

Fiji interim administration to safeguard work of judiciary

9:40 am on 17 January 2007

Fiji's interim attorney general, Aiyaz Sayed-Khayum, says the military will not interfere with the work of the judiciary and will safeguard and respect its independence..

The undertaking follows the swearing in of Justice Anthony Gates as the acting chief justice to replace Daniel Fatiaki who was sent on leave by the military two weeks ago pending investigations into the judiciary.

The military said then the action was taken because of the involvement of certain members of the judiciary in questionable activities since the May 2000 coup.

Justice Gates said in a statement after his appointment that the inadequacies of the legal system are notorious and have undermined the rule of law.

Justice Gates says the need for a comprehensive, "no stone unturned" inquiry into the serious allegations raised about certain judicial officers and practices is self evident.

He says the constitutionality of the present situation would inevitably be raised before the judges who can and must stay independent.

Justice Gates' appointment comes after a unanimous decision of the Judicial Services Commission at which the president of the Fiji Law Society was present.