5 Jun 2017

Nauru subpoena changes called judicial interference

9:35 am on 5 June 2017

There are concerns in Nauru that a rushed law change interferes with the right to subpoena public servants to appear as witnesses in court cases.

The Public Service Amendment Act was altered to distinguish between public servants who gave evidence for the government and those that gave evidence against.

Mathew Batsiua is one of 18 people, including a former president, who are embroiled in a lengthy pre-trial over an anti-government protest.

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Mathew Batsiua says legislation favours those who help the government Photo: 123RF

Mr Batsiua said the legislation seemed to give two categories of public servants who are subpoenaed to give evidence in court.

"It seems to be saying that those that give evidence that will help the Republic will be given, be given leave with pay, those that give evidence that I guess is against the Republic or give evidence that works against the Republic's interests or whatever will not be given pay," he said.

"And I think they lose sight of the fact that when a person is being subpoenaed and they take an oath in court that they have to tell the truth."

Mr Batsuia said he believed the government took action after staff at Nauru Media had been summonsed to give evidence in a preliminary hearing for the trial of the 18 anti-government protesters.