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SUVA, Fiji Islands (March 7, 1999 - PACNEWS)---A High Court judge in Fiji says gender bias in the legal system prevents women from enjoying equality before the law in terms of both constitutional rights and benefits.

Justice Daniel Fatiaki said the myths and biases inherent in judicial perceptions of women need to be understood in terms of their impact on women, as well as on the fair and equitable administration of justice.

Justice Fatiaki said to ensure the protection of human rights, the judiciary needs to be educated on gender equality.

He made the comments at a regional workshop in Suva, Fiji, last week, on gender equality training for senior and chief magistrates.

Sponsored and organized by the United Kingdom's Organization for International Development, the week-long workshop attracted participants from Australia, the Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, the Solomon Islands and Tonga.

The Chief Judge of Australia's Family Court, Justice Neil Buckley, told the workshop while outlining the history and awareness of gender awareness training programs, that judicial officers in Pacific Island countries are now showing interest in adopting what is being done internationally.

Justice Buckley said judicial officers around the world are anxious to ensure that the justice system is an inclusive one, and therefore fair and equal to all.

He said to achieve an inclusive system of justice it is essential that judges make decisions from a position of full knowledge and understanding.

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