UN rights chief urges Fiji president to reinstate judiciary

UN rights chief urges Fiji president to reinstate judiciary

[JURIST] UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] on Wednesday urged [press release] Fijian President Ratu Josefa Iloilo [official profile] to reinstate dismissed judges and lift media restrictions imposed after Iloilo suspended [JURIST report] the country's constitution. Pillay said that the 5-year interim government declared by Iloilo and the reappointment [JURIST report] of Commodore Josaia Voreqe "Frank" Bainimarama [BBC profile] were improper uses of emergency power, which "should only be used to deal with a dire threat to the security of the nation, not to undermine the fundamental checks and balances of good government." Pillay cautioned:

[t]he long term damage of undermining such fundamental institutions as the judiciary and the media cannot be underestimated … I strongly urge a return to the rule of law, to the reinstatement of the judiciary and an end to media censorship.

Earlier this week, members of Fiji's Law Society [organization website] called for deposed judges to remain in office [JURIST report] and resist the current military regime's attempts to oust them. Turmoil has built since the Court of Appeal of Fiji declared [JURIST report] that the appointment of the military government following a 2006 coup d'etat [JURIST report] which ousted Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase [BBC profile] was unconstitutional. 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.