July 18, 2012

NZ Law Society slams Fiji contempt charges

Updated July 18, 2012 15:36:37

The Fiji Government's decision to charge a prominent NGO and its head with contempt of court has been slammed by the New Zealand Law Society.

The Citizens Constitutional Forum, and its director, Reverend Akuila Yabaki, have been charged over an article in the organisation's newsletter which referred to a critical report on the rule of law in Fiji by the Law Society of England and Wales Charity.

Fiji's interim government accuses the Forum and Reverend Yabaki of a scurrilous attack on the judiciary which risks undermining the judiciarys' authority.

Bu the president of the New Zealand Law Society, Jonathan Temm, has told Radio Australia's Pacific Beat he doesn't believe any crime has been committed.

"They simply reproduced in their material quotes from a Law Society of England and Wales charity report so what they were actually doing was saying, is this is what the Legal Society of England and Wales charity said. And it's on that basis the contempt charges (are) being advanced," he said.

"You would have to say that really that's just freedom of opinion and freedom of expression. It's not really what we would consider contempt of court."

Fiji says that as the matter is before the courts, it would be best to let the legal system deal with the issue.

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