28 Feb 2012

Covert trip by UK lawyer finds dire rule of law situation in Fiji

1:31 pm on 28 February 2012

The chairperson of a British law group, who made a covert trip to Fiji at the end of last year, says Fiji's legal system is in a dire state.

A branch of the Law Society of England and Wales has issued a report on the state of rule of law in the country and urged action by groups such as the Commonwealth Lawyers Association and the International Bar Association.

Law Society Charity's chair, Nigel Dodds, met lawyers and others while on a private visit to Fiji in November following concern the Fiji regime would not change its position on allowing in independent scrutiny.

Mr Dodds says his investigations found that while there is an appearance of an independent judiciary and legal system, this is not fulfilled by reality and there is no rule of law in any meaningful sense.

"There are no lawful methods for any members of the Fiji population for challenging the actions of the government in any meaningful way. And, of course, if there is no lawful outlet for resistance to actions by the government, in the long-run it's a recipe for violence and other issues because there is no outlet for opposition."

Nigel Dodds says he did not meet the interim Attorney General or Chief Justice during his visit as this might have been portrayed by the censored Fiji media as endorsement by his organisation.