20 Jul 2010

New Zealand Law Society speaks out about state of judiciary in Fiji

1:32 pm on 20 July 2010

The New Zealand Law Society is concerned for the judiciary in Fiji, after reports 45 judges have been sacked there since April last year, including 40 who lost their jobs in the wake of the abrogation of the constitution.

Law Society convener Austin Forbes says the sheer number of judicial officers who've lost their jobs is extraordinary and he says the dismissals cannot be explained on the usual grounds of grave misconduct.

He says there's an on-going basis for concern that the rule of law is not being adhered to.

"That is in effect part and parcel of the general concern expressed by a considerable number of countries and international bodies, as to the fact that free and democratic elections in Fiji need to be held as soon as possible. And until that happens, there won't be a democracy in the true sense in Fiji and nor will the rule of law be able to operate."

Austin Forbes says there are serious ramifications for Fiji's judiciary as magistrates and judges may not be appointed unless they are prepared to tow the government's line.