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Fiji regime needs to create independent judiciary, says CCF

Pacific Press Release – Citizens Constitutional Forum

The Interim Government needs to take immediate steps to create an enabling environment for an independent judiciary in Fiji, so that confidence in the judiciary can be restored, says the Citizens’ Constitutional Forum (CCF)Government needs to create enabling environment for independent judiciary

The Interim Government needs to take immediate steps to create an enabling environment for an independent judiciary in Fiji, so that confidence in the judiciary can be restored, says the Citizens’ Constitutional Forum (CCF)

“In the aftermath of the 5 December 2006 coup, the people of Fiji remained confident of the independence of our judiciary. This was evident in the range of Constitutional and legal redress cases filed for judicial review, “CCF Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Rev Akuila Yabaki said. “The Qarase v Bainimarama case in 2008 and the appeals case in April 2009, plus the sentencing of the army and police officers responsible for the deaths of Sakiusa Rabaka and Nimilote Verebasaga, reassured people that Fiji’s courts had remained independent after the 2006 political upheaval”.

The reported sacking of three magistrates and the termination of employment of at least three prosecution lawyers by the newly appointed Acting Director for Public Prosecutions (DPP) Mr Aca Rayawa, has renewed fears that the Interim Government maybe intimidating judicial and legal officers.

“The judiciary needs to be seen to be independent. If magistrates get sacked soon after making a decision against the government, then one may assume that this government will not tolerate a judgment that does not go in its favour,” Rev Yabaki said. “Fear of losing jobs could intimidate judicial officers and law enforcement agencies into being less impartial and to be more favourable towards the government.”

An independent judiciary is essential for the preservation of the rule of law in a country, as well as for safeguarding good governance principles, human rights and moral values. The lack of an independent judiciary means that people in Fiji will not be able to fully enjoy the basic human rights of the Right to Fair Public Hearing; and the Right to be Considered Innocent until Proven Guilty.

ENDS

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