fiji UNCENSORED

May 25, 2009

NZ law society says raid ‘serious’

Filed under: General — fijiuncensored @ 13:55
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NEWS

THE New Zealand Law Society says the Fiji Government’s raid on the Fiji Law Society’s offices is a “very serious development”, New Zealand Press Association has reported.

Society president John Marshall said an independent legal profession and judiciary were vital elements in the rule of law.

Fiji Government authorities, led by Chief Registrar Ana Rokomokoti raided the society’s offices and removed files on Saturday evening.

Society president Dorsami Naidu told Radio New Zealand, Rokomokoti and men in plain clothes demanded entry to the society’s offices. One staff member was threatened with arrest.

They then took confidential files relating to complaints against law society members, and Rokomokoti told staff a decree had been issued effectively deregulating the society.

The decree removed independence for lawyers, Naidu said.

The move follows the military regime’s move to reappoint judges last Friday, six weeks after firing them all.

The society was told it would no longer be in charge of licensing lawyers and membership would no longer be compulsory.

All practising certificates would expire on June 30. Naidu said the Government would be in charge of licensing from then on.

Auckland queen’s counsel Peter Williams, who defended Ballu Kahn against the regime, said the raid showed the regime wanted complete control, which was “not unusual for dictatorships”.

Williams said the Government “did not want the independence of a law”. “They don’t want their activities to be reviewed, or to be in any way questioned,” he said.

Fiji’s interim Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khayum said reforms to the society would improve transparency.  – fiji uncensored

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