Academic sees key role for NZ/Aust in Nauru law saga

There are further calls for New Zealand and Australia to help Nauru establish a functioning judiciary.

Massey University‘s Dr Malakai Koloamatangi Photo: Massey University

This comes after Nauru stopped appeals to the Australian High Court without setting up a local replacement.

A constitutional change is still pending.

Critics of the move said it was aimed at stymying the chances of 19 people charged over an anti-government protest from having the charges dismissed.

The director of the Pasifika Centre at Massey University, Malakai Koloamatangi, said, regardless of any political manoeuvrings, the Nauru judiciary needed to have a proper appeal process in place.

“There needs to be that kind of structure in place if Nauru is to have some measure of rule of law operating, and if there isn‘t one – obviously there isn‘t – then Australia and New Zealand, they need to step up and assist in creating that or establishing that,” Dr Koloamatangi said.

In September 2015 New Zealand suspended its aid to the Nauru justice sector over the removal of two Australian judges and some key expatriate staff.

The Justice Minister David Adeang also seized the passport of then MP, Roland Kun, who had been detained but not charged with any offence.

Mr Kun was subsequently issued with a New Zealand passport and was able to leave the island to join his family in Wellington.

New Zealand has since restored aid levels to Nauru but it is no longer putting funding into the island‘s judiciary.