12 Feb 2018

Plans for Nauru Court of Appeal labelled suspicious

8:30 pm on 12 February 2018

A former Nauru justice minister says a planned constitutional change is suspicious.

The Nauru government has introduced a Constitution Amendment Bill to drop the Australian High Court as the last court of appeal for Nauruans.

The Parliament building in Nauru.

The parliament building in Nauru. Photo: Supplied/ @ChrisTrott

The President, Baron Waqa, has told parliament that setting up a final appellate court in Nauru affirms the island's sovereignty, independence and maturity.

But a former justice minister, Mathew Batsiua, who is one of 19 people facing charges over an anti-government protest nearly three years ago, has questioned the move.

Mr Batsiua said there were a number of constitutional issues that warranted review, but this one was not pressing.

"So pushing this ahead as a stand alone change is suspicious to us," Batsiua said.

"One of the avenues that we have been using is appealing to the High Court of Australia for certain decisions that have gone against us, and we have had some success with that.

"So we believe the government is reacting to those situations and they are trying to shut off those avenues," said Mathew Batsiua.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs