25 May 2009

Asia law body says Fiji regime will struggle to convince that legal fraternity still independent

7:33 pm on 25 May 2009

A spokesperson for the regional law association, LAWASIA says the interim government in Fiji will find it difficult to convince people that it won't interfere with the licensing of lawyers.

A decree has been issued stripping the Fiji Law Society of its power to issuing practicing certificates, following a raid on its offices.

Dr Gordon Hughes, a past president of LAWASIA who visited Fiji on an observer mission two years ago, says this is not radical as government-appointed bodies are responsible for this in some other countries including Australia.

But he says past interference with the legal system in Fiji leads people to doubt whether the new issuing body, the Chief Registrar will be completely independent.

"Now that concern may or may not be well founded but its understandable that some people will form the view that the government will simply direct the relevant authority to remove the practicing certificate of someone who for political reasons they don't approve of."

A spokesperson for LAWASIA, Dr Gordon Hughes