Nauru Government to appeal court ruling to pay for Australian lawyers

The Government will appeal the ruling of the Nauru Supreme Court that recent legislation is unconstitutional, and that they must pay huge legal fees for a group of 19 defendants charged over the 2015 riots at Parliament House.

Justice Minister David Adeang said the ruling was surprising, given that the legislation committed to provide all defendants with legal representation in a similar way to many other democratic nations.

“The legislation passed by Parliament recognises the importance of due process and provides for every person charged with a criminal offence to have representation by way of a public defender, at no expense to them.

“Over the past few years we have introduced new laws that protect and promote the welfare of citizens in the current digital age, and this recent legislation also guaranteed people due process in court.”

He said the legislation to provide defendants with a public defender was reasonable, just and in line with other nations.

“The ruling by His Honour means that we must pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to provide expensive international lawyers to defendants charged with criminal acts. This is not only unprecedented but excessive.

“While funds allocated for the recruitment of lawyers under legal aid are comparatively modest, this has to be seen in the context of Nauru’s economy which is small,” Mr Adeang explained, adding, “Nauru is not a rich country and the court’s directions as to legal aid in this case has far reaching implications for the country’s budget.”

The minister said he wasn’t aware of any other nation that would provide this level of legal assistance to defendants, “and in fact this sets an unfortunate precedent”.

He said defendants wanting private representation should pay for it themselves.

“Those who cannot should, in line with a fair and just legal system, be provided with a public defender, which is what the Government ensured in the recent legislation.”


Photo file. Caption: Nauru Justice Minister David Adeang 


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