20 Jul 2010

NZ Law Society concerned for judiciary in Fiji

9:59 am on 20 July 2010

The New Zealand Law Society is concerned for the judiciary in Fiji, after reports 45 judges there have been sacked since April last year.

Law Society convener Austin Forbes says the sheer number of judicial officers who've lost their jobs is extraordinary and he says the dismissals couldn't be explained on the usual grounds of grave misconduct.

He says there's an on-going basis for concern that the rule of law is not being adhered to.

"That is in effect part and parcel of the general concern expressed by a considerable number of countries and international bodies, as to the fact that free and democratic elections in Fiji need to be held as soon as possible. And until that happens, there won't be a democracy in the true sense in Fiji and nor will the rule of law be able to operate."

Austin Forbes says there are serious ramifications for Fiji's judiciary as magistrates and judges may not be appointed unless they are prepared to tow the government's line.