20 Feb 2008

IBA may visit Fiji if ban lifted

1:58 pm on 20 February 2008

The International Bar Association says it doesn't rule out a future visit to Fiji after being barred from entering the country this week.

The Association's Chief Executive Mark Ellis says the interim government would however have to ensure that next time its team would be allowed in.

He says the interim attorney general, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, issued the stop order, making Fiji the first country to ban the IBA which has been to 27 countries.

Mr Ellis says a delegate, who had arrived in Nadi early to prepare for the visit, had to leave the country immediately for Australia.

"This is some sort of political gainsmanship. This was a situation where the Attorney General hadn't made it known exactly as to what he was going to do if the IBA went forward with the visit. We had support from the legal community and the judiciary. In fact at the time when he knew the delegation was about to leave he made it known that there would be a stop order and that individuals concerned would either be detained or deported."

Mark Ellis says he's disturbed and disappointed, as the purpose of the visit was to assess the situation of the judiciary.