FIJI COURT OF APPEAL OPENS SESSION

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SUVA, Fiji Islands (November 8, 2000 –Fiji’s Daily Post)---The Court of Appeal should not be seen as endorsing the legality of official acts which have occurred since the court last sat, appeal judge Sir Maurice Casey said yesterday.

This was part of his opening statement as the court opened for this year’s session. It will be held over the next four weeks

The "officials acts" Sir Casey was referring to were the abrogation of the 1997 Constitution and the promulgation of the Emergency Decrees 2000 under which the country is currently governed.

Members of the Fiji Law Society (FLS), led by President Chen Young, packed the courtroom yesterday expecting a stronger statement on the issue.

Mr. Casey said the Appeal Court will do its normal business, which is to hear and determine civil and criminal appeals.

"We are sitting to help maintain the rule of law in Fiji. In doing so we are not to be taken as accepting or endorsing the legality of acts that have occurred since the court last sat. Nor should this statement be interpreted as a repudiation of the legality of such acts."

These are questions, which may possibly arise for the decision of this court on some future occasion.

"If that were to happen, this court would need to hear full argument in open court before coming to any conclusion," he said.

Following the abrogation of the 1997 Constitution in May this year, Chief Justice Sir Timoci Tuivaga helped the Military Government draft the Emergency Decree.

This move was criticized by the FLS who said Sir Timoci compromised the independence of the judiciary.

Mr. Young said the FLS was happy with Sir Maurice’s statement saying it was "cleverly" worded. "What he said was consistent with the independence of this court."

Mr. Chen told the international media yesterday that Sir Tuivaga had put himself in an "awkward position" by helping to draft the Emergency Decrees. He said members of the FLS had traveled to New Zealand to seek advice from their counterparts on what position they should take.

For additional reports from Fiji’s Daily Post, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Other News Resources/Fijilive.

 

FIJI’S HIGHEST COURT NEITHER ACCEPTS NOR REJECTS ABROGATION OF CONSTITUTION

SUVA, Fiji Islands (November 7, 2000 – Pasifik Nius)---The highest court in Fiji has declined to be drawn into the debate of the validity of the abrogation of the country’s supreme law, the 1997 Constitution, Pacnews reports.

President of the Fiji Court of Appeal Sir Maurice Casey said in a statement released in Suva today that the court can only refuse to accept the legality of such acts as the abrogation of the constitution after hearing arguments in an open court.

"The Fiji Court of Appeal is sitting to help maintain the rule of law in the country and any legal argument will be accepted," Sir Maurice said.

"In doing so, the Court of Appeal should not be taken as accepting or endorsing the legality of official acts that have occurred since the court last sat."

First to welcome Sir Maurice’s clarification on the Fiji Court of Appeal’s stand was the President of the Fiji Law Society, Chen Young, saying the court was careful in wording its address on the 1997 Constitution.

"The judiciary made the right move and should always remain independent and not compromise in any form or way," Young told national radio.

"Appeal judges must be consistent with the character of independency," Young added.

Title -- 3094 FIJI: Appeals Court reaffirms independence Date -- 7 November 2000 Byline – None Origin -- Pasifik Nius Source -- Pacnews, 1630 FT, 7/11/00 Copyright – Pacnews Status -- Unabridged

USP Pacific Journalism Online: http://www.usp.ac.fj/journ/  USP Journalism on the Fiji crisis (UTS host): http://www.journalism.uts.edu.au/  USP Pasifik Nius stories on Scoop (NZ): http://www.scoop.co.nz/international.htm  Have your say: http://www.TheGuestBook.com/vgbook/109497.gbook 

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PASIFIK NIUS service is provided by the niusedita via the Journalism Program, University of the South Pacific.

Please acknowledge Pasifik Nius:   niusedita@pactok.net.au  http://www.usp.ac.fj/journ/nius/index.html

 

FIJI LAW SOCIETY WELCOMES COURT OF APPEAL STATEMENT

SUVA, Fiji Islands (October 8, 2000 – Radio Australia)---The Fiji Law Society has welcomed a statement from the Fiji Court of Appeal that it is expecting to have to rule on the legality of Fiji's current system of government.

Radio Australia correspondent Sean Dorney reports from Suva that the Court stressed that it neither endorsed nor denounced the current situation.

"The three appeal court judges said the legality of what they called the official acts that had occurred since the last sitting of the Court of Appeal may be a question on which they would have to rule in the future, so they neither accepted nor repudiated them.

"The President of the Fiji Law Society, Chen Young, feels this has reinforced the independence of the courts. He said, ‘I think they were saying that they do not necessarily accept the fact that the 1997 Constitution has been abrogated but because of their position as an appellate court, they have to be very careful in not compromising their position.’

"Sean Dorney, Radio Australia, Suva."

For additional reports from Radio Australia, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Radio Australia.

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