28 Apr 2017

Fears Nauru protestors' lawyers could be deported

12:07 pm on 28 April 2017

There are fears in Nauru that the Australian lawyers brought in to help 18 people facing charges over an anti-government protest two years ago could be deported.

Lawyers representing the Manus group Felicity Graham, Stephen Lawrence, Mark Higgins, Neal Funnell and Christian Hearn.

Lawyers representing the Manus group Felicity Graham, Stephen Lawrence, Mark Higgins, Neal Funnell and Christian Hearn. Photo: Supplied

The justice minister, David Adeang, made comments in Parliament on Thursday, accusing the lawyers of condescending behaviour and being disrespectful in court.

One of the accused men, Mathew Batsiua, who is a former cabinet minister and a former secretary of justice, said Mr Adeang then made veiled threats directed at the five Australian lawyers.

Mr Batsiua said the 18 fear their lawyers could be deported.

"We have seen the minister deport people without due process over the past couple of years, so that was the immediate thing that came to our mind was that he might deport our lawyers, or force the court to take action against our lawyers," said Mr Batsiua.

In January 2014, the Nauru government deported its resident magistrate, Peter Law, and his media advisor, Rod Henshaw, back to Australia.

Mr Adeang has been accused of using parliamentary privilege to launch such an attack.

"It's unfair to us," said Mr Batsiua. "It's unfair on the people that he is blaming, accusing of this kind of conduct and behaviour."

"It shows the general attitude that the minister and his government have been taking against those people who speak out against them."

He argued that it was unfair of the minster to threaten their lawyers in this way.

"It's unjust, it's unwarranted and the accusations he has made are just simply untrue."

Meanwhile, the group facing charges will continue to seek a temporary stay on the trial on Friday, citing the difficulties they face in getting a fair trial in Nauru.