By Hayley J. Campbell
Impunity Watch Senior Desk Officer, Oceania
SUVA, Fiji – The International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute has condemned the Fiji Military’s break-in of the Fiji Law Offices and removal of confidential files.
Fiji’s interim government issued a decree last week which stated that the Chief Registrar of the Court would take over the Law Society’s job of issuing practicing certificates to attorneys.
Following that decree, the interim regime ordered the military to raid the Law Society Offices, and take files relating to complaints about Law Society members.
Mark Ellis, IBA’s executive director, has called the interim government’s actions a “gross invasion of the rule of law,” and is concerned that such actions hurt the law profession’s independence in Fiji.
Mr. Ellis also says that the raid on the Law Society Offices is just one of many questionable actions the interim government has taken since the 2006 military coup of Fiji’s federal government. He called the latest break-in the “death knell” to the independence of Fiji’s legal profession.
Meanwhile, Fji’s interim attorney general, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, has called IBA’s concerns “misplaced,” arguing that they are only shared by a few lawyers in Fiji.
For more information, please see:
Radio New Zealand International – IBA criticises Fiji regime for raid on Law Society – 29 May 2009
The Australian – Fiji’s ‘junta judges’ – 29 May 2009
FijiVillage – BA concerns misplaced-AG – 29 May 2009