15 Aug 2013

New Zealand Law Society critical of Fiji contempt ruling

6:17 pm on 15 August 2013

The New Zealand Law Society has added its voice to criticism of the latest contempt ruling in Fiji.

The High Court in Fiji has fined the Citizens' Constitutional Forum and given a suspended jail sentence to its head, the Reverend Akuila Yabaki, for republishing the findings of a British legal report, which says the independence of Fiji's judiciary was in doubt.

Austin Forbes QC of the New Zealand Law Society says it sees the moves by the Fijian government to pursue this matter as evidence of a continued erosion of the rule of law.

The Society says the sentences imposed on a non-political Suva organisation are a serious restriction on the right to free speech.

The Law Society Charity in London says the sentence is cleverly being used to silence the Reverend Yabaki in the lead-up to the election promised for next year.