Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Fiji: the judiciary has made up its mind

Earlier in the month, Fiji's ousted SDL party began proceedings before the High Court to test the legality of the coup. Meanwhile, many of Fiji's judges seem to have already made up their mind. Four Court of Appeal judges have left the country in the last three months after their contracts expired. The reason?

Justice Ward [the President of the Court of Appeal] said the appeals judges considered that in the present circumstances, they could not be appointed or re-appointed under the terms of the Constitution. "To accept re-appointment in these circumstances would be a breach of our judicial oaths," Justice Ward said.

In other words, they think the interim regime is illegal and unconstitutional. This doesn't bode well for the regime's chances before the courts - but it also doesn't bode well for the proper functioning of Fiji's judiciary. The court of appeal has now halved in size, and reading between the lines, it seems that more of them will likewise refuse reappointment. By the middle of the year, there may very well not be enough judges to keep the legal system operating.


"The Judiciary has made up it's mind"

How chilling - senior members of a judiciary pre-determining cases...

Why even bother having legal arguments?

Posted by Graeme Edgeler : 2/27/2007 07:41:00 PM

Yes - that aspect is disturbing, and I'd expect any judge with a pre-determined view of a case to recuse themselves.

OTOH, having sworn a judicial oath to uphold the law, they can hardly accept an illegal appointment. under such circumstances, resignation at the end of one's term seems to be the only honourable course of action.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 2/27/2007 11:28:00 PM