Tuesday, January 21, 2014

How it works in Nauru

Over the weekend, the Nauruan government issued deportation orders against two Australian businessmen. The potential deportees understandably exercised their legal right to have the orders reviewed, and secured an injunction from the country's only resident magistrate preventing the deportation pending a court hearing. In response, the Nauruan government purportedly sacked and forcibly deported the magistrate. When the country's (non-resident) Chief Justice issued an injunction against this, they cancelled his visa and prevented him from entering the country - leaving the country effectively without a legal system. This is a gross affront to the rule of law.

As for why, while the immediate cause seems to be the deportation injunctions, there had been growing tension between the government and the judiciary over the handling of the refugees Australia has been dumping there. The Nauruan government wanted trials against refugees to be held in secret, to reduce political pressure on the Australian government. The judiciary saw this as a violation of open justice. And now the Nauruan government's desire to toady to its Australian masters has fundamentally undermined its constitutional order.

And remember: John Key thinks we should dump our refugees in Nauru as well. Someone should ask him whether he still thinks that, and how he feels about the rule of law. The resulting squirming should be interesting.