Australia complicit in political prosecution in Nauru


A former president of Nauru says Australia is “complicit in a political prosecution.”

Nauru has abolished a decades-old link to Australia’s legal system, removing the island nation’s highest court of appeal in a move critics have described as “shocking” and “concerning” for human rights.

On 12 December last year, the Nauruan government quietly informed Australia it wished to unilaterally withdraw from a treaty, signed in 1976, which made the Australian apex court the highest appellate court in the Nauruan justice system.

Nauru made no public announcement of its decision to terminate the treaty, which would take effect after three months.

On Good Friday, Nauru’s Solicitor-General Jay Udit allegedly told Australian lawyers that the Nauru government had triggered the 90-day notice period to cancel appeals in December 2017 or January 2018.

The government announced on Monday that no new judicial appeals to Australia’s High Court would be permitted under the now-defunct 1976 High Court Appeals Act.

No legislation has been enacted to establish a new local court of appeal.

The first consequence of this decision came on Tuesday when three Nauruans wanting to appeal their sentences were turned away from the Australian High Court registry in Sydney.

Former president Sprent Dabwido said this placed the three in a ‘bizarre legal no man’s land.’

He said the Australian government was complicit because the defence lawyers were not told the decision to end access had been made in December last year and that the registry staff ‘had been instructed weeks ago not to accept any more Nauru appeals’.

Dabwido also said the Australian High Commission on Nauru had refused to speak on the issue, while Foreign Minister Julie Bishop had publicly backed the move by the Nauru government.


Additional reading

News category: Asia Pacific.

Tags: , , , ,