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Fiji seeks to restaff purged judiciary with foreign judges

[JURIST] The government of Fiji is seeking foreign judges to replace judicial officers whose appointments were revoked after an April suspension [JURIST report] of the country's constitution, according to a Sunday report [text] from Sri Lanka's Sunday Times. Fijian Chief Justice Anthony Gates interviewed candidates in Colombo, Sri Lanka, last week and met with the Sri Lankan Chief Justice Asoka de Silva and Attorney General Mohan Peiris to discuss the possibility of allowing Sri Lankan judges to serve two-year rotations in the High Court and magistrate courts of Fiji. Gates said that Sri Lankan judges could serve in Fijian courts by virtue of the common origins of the two countries' legal systems. Fijian Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum [official profile] confirmed that they were seeking qualified judges [Fiji Live report] from other Commonwealth [official website] member nations to fill vacant seats.

Last month, Fijian Prime Minister Commodore Josaia Voreqe "Frank" Bainimarama [BBC profile] announced [JURIST report] plans to establish a new constitution by September 2013, in advance of elections planned for September 2014. In April, President Ratu Josefa Iloilo [official profile] suspended Fiji's 1988 Constitution [text] and revoked the appointment [statement text] of all judicial officers after a ruling [JURIST report] from the Fiji Court of Appeal declaring the appointment of the military government following a 2006 coup d'etat [JURIST report] unconstitutional. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights then urged Iloilo to reinstate the deposed judges [JURIST report]. Concerns about the constitutional suspension have also been expressed [statement text] by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and US State Department [official website] spokesperson Richard Aker, who said that it was a step backwards [press release] for the country, and called on Fiji to continue to recognize rights outlined in the suspended constitution.

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