13 Feb 2003

Fiji women's group rejects responsibility for former chief justice's failure to secure post with Int

8:16 am on 13 February 2003

The Fiji Women's Rights Movement has rejected allegations that the controversial former chief justice, Sir Timoci Tuivaga, failed to secure a position on the new International Criminal Court because of its lobbying.

The allegations have been made by a cabinet minister who claimed the Movement hung out Fiji's dirty laundry for everyone to see at the United Nations at the expense of the government's choice.

Sir Timoci was forced to withdraw after he polled successively lower votes in three ballots - first 14, then 7 and finally six.

But the Fiji Women's Rights Movement says Sir Timoci had tainted his own reputation by attempting to abrogate the constitution and drafting military decrees after the May 2000 coup.

The Movement's executive officer, Laisa Bale-Tuinamoala, says by agreeing to his nomination, Sir Timoci had put himself in a vulnerable position to have his improper behaviour exposed.

Ms Bale-Tuinamoala says both he and the government should not have been so naive as to think that his actions and his past would not catch up with him.

She says justice and integrity may no longer have any meaning in Fiji, but it still means something under international law.

Ms Bale-Tuinamoala says the Movement had sent a dossier to member countries of the UN which may have had a hand in Sir Timoci's rejection.

She says the dossier only contained documents that demonstrated that Sir Timoci was an inappropriate candidate because he failed the paramount duty of any judge which was to defend his country's democratic constitution and refrain from any act to undermine it.