12 Sep 2016

Passport appeal possible for Nauruans

9:47 am on 12 September 2016

A former secretary of justice in Nauru, David Lambourne, says people on Nauru still have an option of appeal if their passports are seized.

The Nauru Government gave itself sweeping new powers over passports last week, giving the relevant minister the power to remove passports for almost any reason and tried to remove any chance of appealing to the courts for a review.

The Chamber of Parliament, Nauru

Last month the Nauru government cancelled the passports of several former MPs and others who allegedly took part in an anti-government protest in June. 2015. Pictured: The Chamber of Parliament, Nauru. Photo: Supplied

This comes after a former president Sprent Dabwido, who needs to leave the country for medical treatment, had his passport removed, along with 19 others opposed to the government.

Mr Lambourne said the role of the court has not been fully excluded, so any decision outside the minister's powers could still be challenged in the courts by judicial review.

"I think they think they have removed that ability but they haven't. The law is extremely badly drafted," he said.

"That is not surprising, given that the Nauru Government over the last couple of years has kicked out just about any decent lawyer they have ever had, including some very good legislative drafters, and the law doesn't, in some respects, do I all I think the government wanted it to do."

Mr Lambourne said it appears the Nauru Government wants to wield untrammelled power over people who speak out against it.

Sprent Dabwido has said he is applying for a new passport.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs