8 Jun 2007

Fiji Human Rights Commissioner says legal uncertainties causing problems

10:02 am on 8 June 2007

The Fiji Human Rights Commission says the country is being held back because of a dilemma over the legal status of the December military takeover.

The commission director, Dr Shaista Shameem, says until a court ruling is made, Fiji will continue to be restricted by the current legal conundrum which restricts many qualified people, especially from overseas, from assisting the country.

She says uncertainty over the legal situation allows lobbyists to deter those who would like to take up appointments.

Dr Shameem says a perfect example is LAWASIA president Mah Weng Kwai who had agreed to become commissioner of the Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption but later withdrew at the request of the Commonwealth Lawyers Association.

She says the Commonwealth lawyers deemed the military takeover as illegal even though the Fiji courts have made no such determination.

Dr Shameem says litigants have tried to ambush the High Court by asking a judge to make a declaration of illegality without the relevant arguments being heard in court.

She says the legal uncertainty which surrounds the military takeover needs to be resolved soon to enable the Fiji Human Rights Commission to do its work more effectively.