26 Nov 2008

Fiji interim AG denies claims he threatened IBA group

8:40 pm on 26 November 2008

Fiji's interim-attorney-general, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, has denied claims he threatened an international lawyers' group, describing the organisation as biased and condescending.

The London-based International Bar Association (IBA) says Mr Sayed-Khaiyum had threatened a delegation hoping to visit Fiji.

The IBA is scheduled to conduct an in-country review of the rule of law next month.

But in a letter received by the IBA this week, Mr Sayed Khaiyum said the interim Government does not welcome or approve the delegation's visit and would take appropriate steps if it attempts to visit Fiji.

The IBA, which represents 30,000 lawyers around the world, had planned to send a group of senior Australian and Malaysian jurists to the country.

IBA director Mark Ellis says that the threat made by the attorney-general against the delegation is unacceptable in a free and democratic society and reflects badly on the state of affairs in Fiji.

But Mr Sayed-Khaiyum denies that his letter was threatening, adding that the IBA's own correspondence was condescending.

He considers the previous scheduled IBA visit was biased and has conveyed that to the organisation.