1 Jun 2009

Amnesty fears escalation of human rights abuse in Fiji

10:34 am on 1 June 2009

Amnesty International says the latest intimidation of Fiji's legal profession is a serious step in the military regime's clamp down on independence.

The regime has prohibited lawyers from practising unless licensed by the Court Registrar.

The acting Registrar position is currently being held by a military officer.

Amnesty spokesman, Patrick Holmes, says he does not believe the regime's claim that the move is no more than a return to the process in place before 1997.

"This is a clamp down by the military government to stop the judiciary operating independently. Its just a smoke screen to say its taking us back to where we were several years ago. We're certainly not hysterical about this but we're calling on the government there to observe the rule of law and make sure the judiciary is allowed to operate independently."

Patrick Holmes says the recent move is the most significant in a series of attacks on the independence of the Fiji's legal profession.