The ICJ is deeply concerned by reports that the President of Nauru has prevented the island nation’s Chief Justice from returning to the country and expelled the sole Resident Magistrate in violation of international standards on the independence of the judiciary.
According to media reports, Nauru President Baron Waqa on January 19 removed Resident Magistrate Peter Law in violation of an injunction issued by Chief Justice Geoffrey Eames. Subsequently, Chief Justice Eames, who was in Australia at the time, had his visa cancelled. Both judicial officials are Australian citizens.
Australia administered Nauru as a dependent territory until 1968 and the two countries retain strong bilateral relations. Australian judges and magistrates often serve on Nauru Courts.
“Removing judges from office, without any process whatsoever, breaches clear international standards on the independence of the judiciary,” said Sam Zarifi, ICJ’s Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific. “It also jeopardizes the right of people in Nauru, especially those currently engaged in legal proceedings, to have a fair trial.”
Nauru is an island state in Micronesia in the South Pacific.
The ICJ’s Centre for the Independence of Judges and Lawyers (CIJL) is monitoring developments.
- Sam Zarifi, ICJ Asia-Pacific Regional Director, (Bangkok), t:+66 807819002, e-mail: sam.zarifi(a)icj.org
- Craig Knowles, ICJ Media & Communications, (Bangkok), t:+66 819077653, e-mail: craig.knowles(a)icj.org