Fiji - Judicial system



The 1990 constitution reorganized the judicial system, but it retains elements of the British system. The courts include the Magistrate Courts, a High Court, the Court of Appeals, and the Supreme Court. There are no special courts, and the military courts try only members of the armed forces.

The Magistrate Courts are courts of first instance that try most cases. The High Court hears more serious cases in first instance and hears appeals from decisions in the Magistrate Courts. The appellate courts, including the High Court, may engage in constitutional review. The High Court has jurisdiction to review violations of individual rights provided by the Constitution.

The 1990 Constitution makes the judiciary independent of the other branches of government. Due process rights are similar to those in English common law.

Dependents have the right to a public trial and to counsel. A public legal adviser assists indigent persons in family law cases. Detainees must be brought before a court within 24 to 48 hours. Incommunicado and arbitrary detention are illegal. The criminal law permits corporal punishment as a penalty for certain criminal acts, but this provision is seldom invoked.

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