5 May 2020

French powers in New Caledonia to be tested in court

3:29 pm on 5 May 2020

New Caledonia's pro-independence Caledonian Union says it will go to the top administrative court in Paris to challenge the actions of the French High Commissioner after the Covid-19 outbreak.

New Caledonia Congress

Photo: RNZ Pacific/ Walter Zweifel

A senior party member in Congress Pierre Tutugoro told the Nouvelles Caledoniennes that with the ordinance of 22 April, the French state infringed on the rights of New Caledonia which under the terms of the Noumea Accord is in sole charge of health matters.

Mt Tutugoro said these powers were irreversibly given to New Caledonia.

The constitutional difficulties were already pointed out last month by a local law professor Mathias Chauchat.

Mr Tutugoro also said that there was New Caledonian nationalism at play in the collegial government which allowed for the crisis to be managed in a consensual manner to protect all New Caledonians.

All 18 people who contracted the virus did so before returning to New Caledonia.

However Mr Tutugoro said the concerns over the possible importation of the virus by travellers were at first not heeded and a lockdown only came after an ultimately false test result suggested the virus was circulating in the community.

He said while France offered assistance to counter the economic impact of the virus outbreak it did so in the form of loans which needed to be repaid.

Mr Tutugoro said given that France still had the power to issue New Caledonia's currency it had to come to the aid of the economy.

He added that other ways of raising funds could be a wealth tax or tackling tax evasion.

A challenge of France's Covid-19 policies in French Polynesia was thrown out.

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