New Zealand Law Society - New Zealand Law Society Statement on Kiribati

New Zealand Law Society Statement on Kiribati

The New Zealand Law Society Te Kāhui Ture o Aotearoa expresses concern at the Kiribati Government’s decision to suspend its three remaining Court of Appeal judges.

The Government’s action follows the Court of Appeal’s decision on 26 August 2022, in which the Court quashed two deportation orders made against Justice David Lambourne of the High Court of Kiribati, as unconstitutional. Chief Justice William Hastings was also suspended earlier this year. Kiribati now has no sitting judges.

“The suspension of three senior judges – owing to disagreement with a ruling – is an inappropriate interference with the judicial process and undermines judicial independence in Kiribati,” says Ataga’i Esera, Vice-President of the Law Society. 

 “We appreciate that this must be a difficult time for the people of Kiribati and wish to express our support for them. It is important for the people of Kiribati that their Judges are free to apply the law to both citizens and the state, without fear of recrimination. The Court of Appeal is Kiribati’s highest local court, and its decisions should be respected. The rule of law demands this.”