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40 judges, magistrates dismissed in past 15 months

MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, July 19, 2010) – Five magistrates in Fiji have been dismissed without notice after they reportedly rejected prosecutions brought by the interim regime.

The sacked magistrates join 40 other judicial officers dismissed in the past 15 months in Fiji.

That includes 30 magistrates and 15 High Court judges.

For the most part they have been replaced by judicial officers from Sri Lanka.

The move has raised Australian fears of an erosion of the nation's judicial system.

The chief executive of the Citizens Constitutional Forum in Fiji, the Reverend Akuila Yabaki, says the UN Human Rights Council recently raised concerns about Fiji's judicial system at a meeting in Geneva.

"There were 17 states who called for the Fiji Government to invite the UN Rapporteur on the independence of the judiciary and lawyers and we did call on the government to do that and they haven't said no and they're going to carry this out," he said.

"But it does raise a question about the validity of the independence of the judiciary and it's a concern the fact that the international community is calling for that."

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