The Government of the Republic of Nauru

2012 台灣志工協助建置 ╭═╦╯ ║ ╰ ╭╦══╦══╦╯ ╭╯ ╮ ═╮══╦╩╦══ ══╬══╬══╯╭═══════╮╭╯ ╰╮ ╰╭╯║ ║╰╮ ║ ║ ╭╯║╭═║═╮═╮║╰═══════╣═╮ ╰════╮ ╭═╬╯ ╰╮╯ ╯ ╰════ ╭══════╮ ╰ ╭════╯ ║ ╭╰╮ ╠═╭══╯ ║ ║ ╭ ╰════╮ ╯ ╯ ╰╯ ═══╯╰═══ ╰══════╯ ═╯ ╯ MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM MMMMMMMMMMMMMM ?MM" ~"MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM MMMMMMMMMMMMM~ xMMM :MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM MMMMMMMMMMMMM MMMMX MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM MMMMMMMMMMMMM "MMMM ""?MMMMMMMMMMM MMMMMMMMMMMMM " MMMMMM MMMMMMMMMMMMMXxx "" MMMMMM MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMx xx: MMMMMMM MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM: MMMMMHXMMMMMMM MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM! MMMMMMMMMMMMMM MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMX MMMMMMMMMMMMMM MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM"" ~MMMMMMMMMMMMM MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM" "MMMMMMMMMMM MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM" MMMMMMMMMM MMMMMMMMMMMMMMM~ xMMHx: "MMMMMMMM MMMMMMMMMMMM"" xxMMMMMMMMMx "MMMMMMM MMMMMMMM"~ xxMMMMMMMMMMMMMx ?MMMMMM MM?"" xxxXMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMx ~MMMMMM M ::????????!?!!!!!!!?!????????: "MMMMM MM!!!!!~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~! ~!MMM MMMMHXXXXXXXXXXX!!!!!!!!X!!XXXXXXXXXx MM / \ | _________________________________________ | | | | | | | C:\>我愛台灣 | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | |_________________________________________| | | | \_________________________________________________/ \___________________________________/ ___________________________________________ _-' .-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-. --- `-_ _-'.-.-. .---.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.--. .-.-.`-_ _-'.-.-.-. .---.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-`__`. .-.-.-.`-_ _-'.-.-.-.-. .-----.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-----. .-.-.-.-.`-_ _-'.-.-.-.-.-. .---.-. .-------------------------. .-.---. .---.-.-.-.`-_ :-------------------------------------------------------------------------: `---._.-------------------------------------------------------------._.---'

Pro Bono Assistance from the Australian legal profession for criminal proceedings in Nauru

Criminal proceedings relating to separate disturbances in the  Regional Processing Centre (RPC) that occurred in September 2012 and on 19 July 2013 pose a significant challenge for the Nauru court system and for the very small number of legal practitioners who comprise the Nauru legal profession.  The first trials concerning the September 2012 incidents will commence on 22 August 2013.The Nauru legal profession comprises a very few graduate lawyers and a small number of Pleaders, who are experienced in conducting criminal cases but are not graduate lawyers.  There are very few experienced graduate criminal lawyers.

 Article 10(2) of the Nauru Constitution provides that each person charged must be afforded a fair hearing within a reasonable time, by an independent and impartial court.  Where the person cannot meet the cost of legal representation by a lawyer of his/her own choice, then Art 10(3) provides that the Court must assign a legal practitioner where it is in the interests of justice to do so. 

Given that more than 150 persons have been charged with offences relating to the RPC events, and that these cases are additional to the significant number of criminal and civil cases otherwise in the court lists relating to Nauruan citizens and residents, it is clear that both governments and the judiciary must assess the needs for legal assistance for all of these defendants in ensuring the expeditious and just disposition of their cases.  An additional factor that must be taken into account is the limited court room facilities in Nauru. The District Court and the Supreme Court currently share the use of a single, small, courtroom.

In recent years the Chief Justice of Nauru, the Hon Geoffrey M Eames AM QC, and the Resident Magistrate, Mr Peter Law, have designed and implemented a number of advocacy training programs, both in civil and criminal law, which have been well attended and appreciated by members of the Nauru legal profession.  Those programs have been made possible by funding from the Pacific Judicial Development Program (PJDP) and by the provision of pro bono services from highly qualified and experienced members of the Victorian legal profession.  It was intended that such training programs would continue and the PJDP has now generously agreed to support a two phase program for the provision of ongoing training and case work support in August and October 2013 to the Nauru practitioners.

Mr Law has made representations to the Nauru government for legal aid funding for members of the Nauru profession to represent defendants and those representations have been favourably received, but that funding is limited.

To add to the legal resources, two experienced Victorian practitioners have offered their services pro bono.  They are Mr Sam Norton, in-house counsel with Robert Stary Lawyers, the largest criminal law firm in Victoria, and barrister, Mr Ashley Halphen, nominated by the Victorian Bar Council.    Mr Norton is Chair of the Criminal Law Section of the Law Institute of Victoria and is an experienced advocacy teacher.  Mr Halphen is an experienced criminal barrister, who also conducted a highly successful advocacy workshop in Nauru in 2011. Their accommodation and travel costs will be met by PJDP.

Mr Norton and Mr Halphen will work closely with members of the local profession, providing practical training and support, including, where appropriate, appearing for defendants as sole or co-counsel, and providing advice and support for practitioners in conducting trials. 

In addition to offering their services, as requested, to members of the local profession, and to defendants, Mr Norton and Mr Halphen will evaluate the future needs for representation, with a view to exploring ways in which the Victorian legal profession (and professional bodies in other States)might provide ongoing support to the legal profession and people of Nauru, if requested.

The training and support program will have two phases.  In August 2013 Mr Norton will be available to share appearances with members of the Nauru profession for defendants charged with offences arising in 2012.  He will, in addition, work with local practitioners to ascertain how many of the detainee defendants will require legal representation, and how that support may be provided.  The work with local practitioners will provide "hands-on" training.  The second phase will be in October, when Mr Halphen will attend for three weeks. He will offer similar training and support as Mr Norton, and will appear in such cases as are ready to be heard and in which he receives instructions to act.

The Chief Justice expressed his gratitude to Mr Norton and Mr Halphen, and to the Pacific Judicial Development Program.   The Victorian legal profession has a long and honourable tradition of providing legal support and training to legal practitioners throughout the Pacific. 

In addition, the Chief Justice acknowledges the valuable pro bono support provided to date for RPC defendants by members of the legal profession in New South Wales, in particular, by Mr Jason Williams.  It is hoped that such support from the New South Wales profession will continue. 

Whilst continuing pro bono support from the Australian legal profession will be welcomed, it is clear that significant funding will be required to meet the challenge facing the courts.  It would be unreasonable to expect the Nauruan Government to provide that funding out of its existing budget.