Contributing Lawyers

Canada

Cyndee Todgham Cherniak

United States

Susan Kohn Ross

Australia

Andrew Hudson



Questions Are Being Asked Whether Fiji Blocked an International Bar Association Delegation

The following news is making its way around international legal circles and is important in light of our commitment to the rule of law:

FIJI BLOCKS ENTRY OF VISITING BAR ASSOCIATION MEMBER

SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, Feb. 16, 2008) – A member of the International Bar Association was stopped from entering the country this morning. Felicia Johnston is one of five panel of jurists who were scheduled to visit here next week to examine the state of the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary in Fiji. Johnston has since left the country for Australia following her brief detention by Immigration authorities at Nadi International Airport. The IBA delegation has now cancelled its visit from the 18th to the 22nd of this month. It is understood this is the first time that an IBA delegation has been stopped from entering any country. Fiji’s interim Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, who yesterday described the stop arrival order on the IBA delegation as speculation, had vehemently opposed the visit, saying the group would interfere with the work of the judiciary here.


The following statement was issued by the International Bar Association and my be found on their website at http://www.ibanet.org/iba/article.cfm?article=149

The International Bar Association (IBA) is dismayed by the Fiji Government’s decision to ban a visit by a high-level IBA delegation which included senior jurists from Australia and Malaysia.

 

The delegation was scheduled to visit from 18 to 22 February.  The IBA is apolitical, objective and professional, and the delegation was visiting Fiji with an open mind to assess the country’s current state of justice and the rights and freedoms of its citizens, using international legal standards as yardsticks.  The IBA delegation was to meet as wide a range of stakeholders as possible, in order to hear all viewpoints, and was not limiting its meetings in any way.

 

The IBA has been monitoring the situation in Fiji, completely independently from any of its Fiji-based members.  The recent events concerning the judiciary over the past year were the catalyst for the decision to undertake an in-depth assessment through a rapid response visit.

 

‘We are disappointed that the Fiji government has taken such a draconian stance.  The decision deprives Fijians of the opportunity to have an open discussion and objective feedback on issues that are clearly of concern for both the country and the international community’, says Mark Ellis, IBA Executive Director.

 

Ambassador Emilio Cardenas, Co-Chair, IBA`s Human Rights Institute, says: ‘The independence of the judiciary is a key element in the rule of law, and is one of the highest priorities in the work of the IBA. The purpose of our visit was to assess this independence in Fiji.’

 

Fernando Pombo, IBA President, states: ‘We call upon the government of Fiji to reverse its decision immediately and allow the IBA the freedom to enter the country.’

 

Romana St Matthew - Daniel

Press Office

International Bar Association

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London W1T 1AT

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Tel: + 44 (0)20 7691 6868

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E-mail: romana.daniel(at)int-bar.org

Website: www.ibanet.org

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