28 Feb 2012

British lawyer doubts competence of Fiji's public prosecutors

6:16 pm on 28 February 2012

A British law group has found the competence and independence of Fiji's prosecution service have been reduced to an

unacceptable level.

The chairperson of the Law Society Charity Nigel Dodds interviewed lawyers, former judges and prosecutors in Fiji last November.

He says after a series of dismissals, the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions has become populated with the newly qualified and lawyers imported from Sri Lanka, and independent judgment is seen as undesirable.

He says the independence of current judges is also in doubt.

"It's not made clear how they're appointed. Checks and balances have been undermined. The Fiji Law Society has been removed from the process. The actual judicial input has been reduced. They're on relatively short-term contracts. The whole system would make it difficult for them to be demonstratively independent."

Nigel Dodds says legal professionals perceived as opposed to the interim government are suffering financially for not toeing the line.