6 Nov 2009

New report finds Fiji magistrates wanting

4:22 pm on 6 November 2009

A new report on domestic and sexual violence court proceedings in Fiji found magistrates to be gender-biased, inexperienced and mediocre.

New magistrates were appointed after the turmoil in April when the constitution was thrown out and the judiciary sacked.

The Women's Crisis Centre has been looking at how the new magistrates behave in gender based crime cases.

The Centre's coordinator, Shamima Ali, says many magistrates behave irresponsible, including calling women uneducated and telling an alleged rape victim that she had been hallucinating.

"These are things that we might have faced 20 years ago and it seems these things are coming back into our courts. We're appointing mediocrity to the bench and people who really don't have the experience."

Shamima Ali says women had access to the local media in the past when facing biased judges, but media censorship is preventing that measure.