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Friday 26 April 2024 | Written by RNZ | Published in Kiribati, Regional


Kiribati MPs vote to remove High Court Judge from office
David Lambourne. 24042604

Kiribati MPs have voted to accept a recommendation from a tribunal that Kiribati High Court judge, David Lambourne be removed.

The Kiribati judiciary has been in turmoil for nearly four years now, with key judges removed and huge backlogs in the system.

The tribunal's recommendation is the culmination of efforts to remove the Australian-born judge, who is married to the opposition leader, Tessie Lambourne, and who has lived in Kiribati for 20 years.

In a statement, Lambourne said the decision by the parliament to remove him from office is driven by politics and undermines the country's democracy.

He believes he was denied natural justice from the beginning, and that parliament established a tribunal to investigate him based on the 'flimsiest of allegations' - allegations he had no opportunity to respond to.

He said the procedures adopted by the tribunal were 'deeply flawed.' He feels he was not given a fair hearing, while evidence was collected in secret and not shared with him.

Lambourne said his removal from office may be imminent, but he still has other legal options.

RNZ Pacific has not been able to reach the Kiribati Government for a response, but previously it has said its actions were constitutional.

It had talked of fears the Kiribati judiciary was becoming too powerful and so altering the balance of power with the executive.

Lambourne said he remains deeply committed to upholding the Constitution of Kiribati and serving her people to the best of his ability.

He said "we must always strive for te eti ao te riai (what is right and proper)".