Fiji courts want 6 of our judges

By Bandula Sirimanna

The military ruled South Pacific archipelago of Fiji wants judges from Sri Lanka to serve in its law courts.
Fiji Chief Justice Anthony Gates is now in Colombo to recruit six Judges for Fiji's High Courts and Magistrate's Courts.

In December 2006, Commodore Josaia Voreqe (Frank) Bainimarama, staged a military take over citing corruption in the Government. He ousted a Prime Minister he himself installed in office after a previous coup in 2000.

Anthony Gates

In April, this year, President Iloilo abrogated the Constitution and sacked the country's judiciary after a Court declared the 2006 military-led government as illegal. Justice Gates was recalled by the President and is now helping in judicial reforms.

Justice Gates told the Sunday Times the Government planned sweeping judicial changes in April next year. Since Fiji and Sri Lanka were countries that inherited similar judicial systems, he wished to recruit judicial officers from Sri Lanka. Last week, he met Chief Justice Asoka de Silva and Attorney General Mohan Peiris to discuss matters relating to his recruitment mission.

Justice Gates said interviews were held on Wednesday in Colombo. A senior official of the Justice Ministry told the Sunday Times that there would be no problem in obtaining leave from the Judicial Services Commission for these 2-year assignments.

Justice Gates is also due to hold another round of talks with the Sri Lankan Chief Justice and meet the Justice Ministry Secretary on the leave issue, he added.

Referring to Sri Lanka's judicial system Justice Gates said that Sri Lanka maintains the independence of the judiciary and the highest ethical standards and Fiji can benefit by obtaining the services of local judicial officers with intelligence and integrity.

"What is of far greater significance is that the judges must act as judges. They need no other command. They must do the right thing. Few if any judges throughout the world will ever have to face the dilemmas we shall face; to be intellectually honest and yet be efficacious," he said.

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