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NOUMÉA, New Caledonia (September 27, 2001 - Oceania Flash/SPC)---Heads of the judiciaries of some fifteen Pacific island countries and territories are meeting in New Caledonia this week for the fourteenth conference of the Pacific judiciary, the daily newspaper Les Nouvelles Calédoniennes reports.

The four-day meeting, which includes representatives and heads of the judiciaries of neighboring countries, is focusing this year on such themes as the independence of the judiciary, inter-regional cooperation against delinquency and solutions to improving the coexistence of national law and local customs.

The South Pacific judiciary started meeting every second year nearly thirty years ago, in 1972.

The grouping is comprised of 22 members, representing the highest judicial agencies in the region.

The Nouméa meeting is being held this year at the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) headquarters in New Caledonia.

"This meeting is above all a place for exchange of views on our respective judicial practices," first President of the Nouméa Court of Appeal Gérard Fey said.

"We have similar areas of concern and our sociological and cultural environments are comparable. Our questions are centered on the search for civil peace. And this conference is also a good opportunity to get to know each other, understand each other in order to better cooperate."

Nouméa Mayor Jean Lèques said, "In a context that is marked by the attacks on the United States, meetings of this kind are indispensable in order to attain a cooperation among the states of the region, so as to avoid that such acts happening again."

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