Call for NZ PM to Intervene in Nauruan Constitution Crisis
Calls for the New Zealand Prime Minister to Intervene in Nauruan Constitutional Crisis
Adjunct Professor George Newhouse, the Principal Solicitor of the National Justice Project, has called on the NZ Prime Minister to intervene in the Constitutional Crisis that has engulfed Nauru.
“If reports that the Government of Nauru has secretly triggered a clause under the treaty between Australia and Nauru to remove the right to appeal decisions made by the Supreme Court of Nauru to the High Court of Australia are true, then the Prime Minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern, needs to step in to ensure that the rule of law in Nauru is protected as New Zealand holds an important leadership role in the Pacific.
“This is not the first time that the tiny Island nation of 10,000 people has been thrown into judicial chaos. In January 2014, the Nauruan government expelled the country’s only magistrate and refused to allow the then Chief Justice (both Australian Citizens) back into the country. No one has ever been held accountable for these acts. Since then the High Court of Australia has set aside a number of decisions of the new Nauruan Judges.
“Under the treaty, appeals from the Supreme Court of Nauru to the High Court of Australia can be ended with 90 days’ notice by either government.
“The Solicitor-General of Nauru, Jay Udit, allegedly told Australian lawyers on Good Friday that the Nauru Government had triggered the 90-day notice period to cancel appeals in December 2017 or January 2018. Normally such an important decision would have been debated publicly and in the Nauruan Parliament, particularly when no substitute court of appeal has been created.
“Triggering the cancellation of appeals will have the immediate effect of stopping opposition members of the Nauru Parliament from appealing their court proceedings in Nauru which will damage the fragile democracy of Nauru. It will also limit the few legal rights of the asylum seekers that the Australian Government has relocated there.
“Australia is sending asylum seekers to an island prison where they have virtually no rights if rights of appeal to the High Court are taken away.
"New Zealand and Australia need to ensure that the rights of vulnerable asylum seekers and refugees are protected if the appeal link to the High Court of Australia is cut
“Everybody should be concerned if important legal rights are being taken away from vulnerable asylum seekers and Nauruan citizens in secret.