Nauru: crisis for rule of law deepens

The crisis for the rule of law in Nauru, triggered by actions by the executive government that undermine the independence of the judiciary, has deepened.

Nauru Chief Justice Geoffrey Eames resigned on 13 March 2014, two months after the Nauru government summarily dismissed and expelled a judge despite the Chief Justice’s orders to the contrary, and blocked the Chief Justice from returning to the country.  A letter of concern ICJ wrote to the government of Nauru several weeks ago remains unanswered.

The decision of the Chief Justice to resign ended the stalemate the government had created by continuing to deny him entry to the country despite the legislature’s refusal to allow the government to impeach him on spurious grounds. It did not, however, end the continuing crisis the government’s actions have created for the independence of the judiciary and the rule of law in Nauru.

The ICJ had earlier publicly expressed its deep concern about the removal of Magistrate Law from office in absence of any due process, and in violation of an injunction issued by the then Chief Justice Eames, and the arbitrary denial of the Chief Justice of access to Nauru. Chief Justice Eames has said that, even by the time of his resignation in mid-March, he had not received any explanation of the specific reasons for cancellation of his visa.

The ICJ’s Centre for the Independence of Judges and Lawyers (CIJL) wrote to President Baron Waqa and relevant ministers of government on 8 March 2014 requesting information and calling upon the government to immediately reverse and remedy the actions taken against the Resident Magistrate and Chief Justice, and to adhere to concrete procedural safeguards to re-establish protection of the rule of law (PDF: Letter-Nauru-IndependenceJudiciary-03032014). To date, the ICJ has received no response.

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