24 Aug 2010

Fiji chief justice accuses Australia and NZ of interfering with judiciary

11:44 am on 24 August 2010

Fiji's Chief Justice Anthony Gates says Australia and New Zealand have hampered progress in restoring Fiji's judiciary at all levels.

Justice Gates made the remarks while officiating at a Consumer Council event.

He described the stance taken by Australia and New Zealand as an assault on, and interference with, a neighbouring state's judiciary, adding that the action was unprecedented.

Australia was blamed by the Fiji for hampering efforts to recruit judges from Sri Lanka, leading to tit-for-tat expulsions of envoys from Suva, Canberra and Wellington.

The Fiji interim regime sacked the judiciary in April last year when it abrogated the Constitution.

It took the action after the appeal court had ruled that the military-led government was illegal.

Justice Gates says bearing in mind that the entire judiciary had been dismissed, he says there has been a satisfactory restoration of judicial officers since April last year.