Thursday, January 04, 2007

Fiji: Undermining the judiciary

Having seized executive authority and dissolved the legislature, Fiji's military regime has now turned its sights on the judiciary, suspending the Chief Justice and Chief Magistrate over "corruption, irregularities and gross inefficiency in the judicial system". Of course, he has no legal authority to do this, just as he has no legal authority to fire the CEO of the Fiji Sugar Cane Growers Council - but he has a gun, and that in his mind is all that matters.

Meanwhile, the director of Fiji's Human Rights Commission, who has recently taken a rather relaxed attitude to the intimidation, beating and abuse of those who speak out against the coup, has issued a simply shocking report [PDF] in which she declares that the coup was justified as the Qarase government was illegal. Under the same reasoning - that the appointment of the 2001 interim government, and therefore the 2001 elections, was illegal - every New Zealand government we have ever had would be illegal and a coup to overthrow them justified because of 1688 (and if not then, then 1660, or something even earlier). She also denounces as "foreign intervention" overseas backing of Fijian democracy and human rights NGOs which have criticised her. It's discouraging to see an organisation which is supposed to be an official voice for human rights turn to the dark side in this manner, and it will take the FHRC a long time to live this down.