Thursday, March 19, 2009

Malaysia backs IBA report

Fiji Times

Ragunath KesavanNewly-appointed Malaysian Bar president Ragunath Kesavan, in a statement on Monday, said he supported the findings of the International Bar Association Human Rights Institute on Fiji.

Mr Kesavan said the report, Dire Straits: A report on the rule of law in Fiji dated March 4, expressed concern over the state of the rule of law in Fiji since the December 2006 coup.

According to the IBAHRI Report, the interim regime, apparently with allies in the judiciary, the legal profession and the Fiji Human Rights Commissioner, attacked those members of the judiciary and the legal profession who attempted to defend human rights and the justice system.

The report was published following two separate attempts by a high-level IBAHRI-led delegation of senior jurists from Australia and Malaysia to visit Fiji subsequent to reports of threats to judicial independence and violent attacks on some lawyers.

"One of the delegation members is Roger Tan, former member of the Malaysian Bar Council. He was part of the delegation that was barred from entering Fiji in February 2007 and December 2008," Mr Kesavan said.

"The IBAHRI Report recommended that until elections are held, no further appointments to the judicial bench are made in order to avoid further doubt being shed on the legitimacy of the current appointments to the judiciary in Fiji," he said.

According to Mr Kesavan in September 2007, two senior Malaysian lawyers, Datuk Dr Cyrus Das and Datuk Cecil Abraham were appointed to the Court of Appeal of Fiji but the duo did not take up the appointments.

"In June 2007, LAWASIA president Mah Weng Kwai, who is also a member of the Malaysian Bar, stepped down as commissioner of Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption after one week," he said.

"The Bar council wishes to commend the three afore-mentioned individuals for their principled stand in declining or renouncing these positions so as not to legitimise a government that came to power through unconstitutional means," he said.

He said acceptance of such appointments made by a government that came to power by way of a coup would only delay the return of democracy to Fiji, which was certainly not in the interest of Fiji and her people.

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