18 Feb 2008

The International Bar Association says it is dismayed by interim Fiji government's ban

10:30 am on 18 February 2008

The International Bar Association says it is dismayed by the interim Fiji Government's decision to ban a visit by a high-level delegation which included senior jurists from Australia and Malaysia.

A member of the IBA, Felicia Johnston, was detained briefly at Nadi Airport on Saturday before taking a flight to Australia.

Ms Johnston is one of the five-member panel of jurists scheduled to visit Fiji to examine the state of the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary.

But the interim Attorney General, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, said the IBA was not welcome at this time.

He told Fiji Live they planned to meet only a limited number of people and their choice exposed bias.

However in a statement, The IBA said it had been monitoring the situation in Fiji, completely independently from any of its Fiji-based members.

It said that recent events concerning the judiciary over the past year were the catalyst for the decision to undertake an in-depth assessment through a rapid response visit.

The IBA delegation says it was to meet as wide a range of stakeholders as possible, in order to hear all viewpoints, and was not limiting its meetings in any way.