16 Apr 2014

New Caledonia courts differ in roll interpretation

1:50 pm on 16 April 2014

There have been widely divergent interpretations of the law in New Caledonia's controversy over the electoral roll.

The pro-independence FLNKS movement lodged thousands of court cases to challenge the inscription of people born outside the territory as preparations are underway for next month's provincial elections.

Voting will be restricted to long-term residents in line with the decolonisation process which, after the election, opens the way for a possible independence referendum.

While the tribunal in Noumea rejected practically all bids to have people struck off the roll, the tribunal in Kone removed almost all names submitted to it.

The rules exclude immigrant voters who failed to be registered by 1998, but there have been differing views on who has to prove a voter's eligibility.

The Noumea tribunal says the FLNKS has to submit the evidence but the group says only the judge has access to the migration records to verify the relevant dates.

An academic, Mathias Chauchat warned last week of a judicial scandal if the judges failed to check the relevant records which are only open to them, the mayors and the French high commissioner.