|Sosefo Inoke in 2009 the day he was sworn in along with Gates|
Leaked correspondence from inside the judiciary tonight confirms what the ordinary Fijian already knows - the regime is a law unto itself and there is no such thing as an independent judiciary.
Emails (leaked to C4.5 by moles) between a leading High Court judge, Sosefo Inoke, and the illegal Chief Justice, Tony Gates, also shows how things may well have played out for some of the Sri Lankan judges who've left these shores so abruptly.
Correspondence between Inoke and Gates over the decision to not renew his three year contract confirms outside hands at play within the Fiji judiciary. The strings, as we've always known, are being pulled from way above Gates, by none other than Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum.
A reply from Gates to Inoke dated April 20:
“Thank you for setting out your work in the Division. It is highly commendable, and you have clearly driven many improvements at the Lautoka High Court.
"Having referred the matter at your request, I have received the same decision back. Regrettably therefore I must inform you that the decision I had communicated to you before, stands”.
Inoke was appointed by the former president Josefa Iloilo for three years: in fact, he was sworn in at the same time as Daniel Goundar, Davendra Pathik and Anthony Gates were reappointed after the Constitution was abrogated in 2009.
In his letter to Gates about his contract, Inoke acknowledges the unpopularity of those working for the Fiji judiciary today rather plaintively:
"All legalities aside, what seems to have been lost in all this are the personal sacrifices that I, and my fellow local judicial officers in the same situation that I am in, have made in service to our country and the ridicule that we have had to put up with in the last three years.
"We put our hands up as called upon when others shied away. We have had to put up with being called “illegal Judge”, “illegal Magistrate” and worse, but despite all that, we have proven them all wrong. And what do we get in return? Our marching orders. I feel used for some people’s own personal vendettas and agendas.
"My final pay still remains outstanding despite your direction and my having to call the Chief Registrar three times. It is now 11 days overdue. I have lodged my application for my practicing certificate but feel very uneasy that it will be issued despite your promise that all local judicial officers who have had their contracts not renewed will get their certificates.
"I feel compelled to voice my opinion because I fear the independence of our Judiciary as guaranteed under the law is being compromised."
He also writes to the illegal president Epeli Nailatikau seeking his help, saying he was appointed by Iloilo so his appointment can only be terminated for good cause or revoked for good cause by the president:
"The thrust of my submission is that our people are entitled to a Judiciary which is independent of the Executive arm of Government and a pillar of that human right is the requirement that Judicial Officers have security of tenure by being appointed until the retirement age, subject only to removal by the President. In the case of Judges of the High Court, that age is 65 years.
"That is provided for in our law, before 2009 and now, in the Administration of Justice Decree 2009 and recognised in various international instruments such as The Beijing Statement of Principles of the Independence of the Judiciary in the LAWASIA Region which was signed by our former Chief Justice, Sir Timoci Tuivaga, The Bangalore Principles of Judicial Conduct 2002 and The Basic Principles on the Independence of the Judiciary which are part of our law.
"These instruments stress that an independent judiciary is a pre-requisite for the Rule of Law and that the principle is for the benefit of the general citizenry and not the Judicial Officers.
"The Chief Justice has just simply told me that it was “the powers that be” that decided not to continue with my appointment, which I take as my removal from the Bench. As I have said above and in my letter to the Chief Justice, the only authority to remove a Judge is the President.
"... something needs to be done to address the issue of Judicial Independence in Fiji."
Editor's Note: Inoke has made several rulings that might be considered anti-government. One of them was last year when he disagreed with the decision of two judges to dismiss the charges against three police officers convicted of murdering a robbery suspect and were later sentenced to life imprisonment in 2008. They had been found guilty of murdering Tevita Malasebe the year before. The original sentence was handed down by Nazhat Shameem.