4 Apr 2018

Call for action as Nauru drops Australian High Court

6:41 am on 4 April 2018

The loss of independent oversight on court decisions in Nauru is very concerning, says an Australian law academic.

Macquarie University Adjunct Professor George Newhouse, who also heads the National Justice Project, was speaking after the Nauru Government terminated a treaty giving Nauruans access to the High Court of Australia as a final court of appeal.

The termination happened without Nauru having a local court of appeal in place, which would require a constitutional change.

Mr Newhouse said it was a major concern for Nauruans and asylum seekers and refugees on the island because very often appeals made to the Australian High Court had resulted in the decisions of the Nauru Supreme Court being overturned.

"Certainly in the last 12 months the High Court had a 90 percent rate of overturning Nauruan court decisions, which is a very concerning statistic and if I was on Nauru I would be very concerned about losing the independent oversight that the Australian court provided," Mr Newhouse said.

Mr Newhouse said the governments of Australia and New Zealand should take action.

"I think as good neighbours in the Pacific both Australia and New Zealand have a duty to impress upon those in power in Nauru that what they are doing is anti-democratic and is denying basic legal rights to individuals on Nauru," he said.

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