The Australian government has expressed its concerns to Nauru's President Baron Waqa over the deportation of its magistrate Peter Law and cancellation of chief justice Geoffrey Eames' visa, saying any abuse of legal process would be a "serious" concern.
The Australian High Commissioner Bruce Cowled spoke to Mr Waqa, as well as Justice Minister David Adeang and Justice Secretary Lionel Aingimea, on Tuesday to ''seek clarification'' around the the treatment of Mr Law and Justice Eames.
Mr Law was deported on Sunday, while Justice Eames was prevented from re-entering Nauru. Both men are Australian, as is Nauru Solicitor-General Stephen Bilim, who resigned his post in protest.
On Tuesday evening, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, said that: ''The High Commissioner also conveyed the concerns of the Australian government about the implications of these actions for the rule of law in Nauru.''
A spokeswoman for DFAT noted that Justice Eames has previously stated that the timing of the Nauru government's decisions against himself and Mr Law over the weekend led him to conclude that Mr Waqa's decisions were ''politically motivated and amounted to an abuse of the rule of law''.
''If there has been an abuse of legal process in this matter then this is a serious concern, given the commitment of both the Australian and Nauru Governments to the rule of law as a key democratic and human rights value,'' the spokeswoman said.
On Monday, Immigration Minister Scott Morrison said while the events in Nauru were not "100 per cent clear yet," it appeared that the treatment of Mr Law and Justice Eames was "very much about internal Nauruan politics".
Mr Law on Tuesday rejected wide-ranging accusations levelled against him by the Nauru government as "outrageous and preposterous".
On Tuesday, a statement from the Nauru Department of Justice said that Mr Law was removed because the Nauru government had lost confidence ''in the ability of Mr Law to hear matters in a manner considered to be fair and equal''.
The statement says that a ''number'' of complaints had been made against Mr Law by ''former governments, member of the public and judiciary staff''.
''The complaints included inappropriate behaviour towards staff, improper conduct towards staff, drunk and disorderly behaviour, allegations of interfering in cases, advising aggrieved parties on how to conduct their cases, dereliction of performing his duties as a magistrate, undermining senior public servants, and exclusion of certain members of the judiciary staff from needed training, to name a few,'' the statement reads.
''The government of Nauru deemed it appropriate that Mr Law leave Nauru as soon as possible before any more damage is done to the reputation and good standing of the Nauru judiciary."
'No evidence' of allegations
Mr Law rejected the accusations, saying the allegations were coming from a disgruntled employee he suspended on November 25 last year.
"The fact that they were never investigated by the public service head speaks for itself," he said.
"In three years and 300 decisions in my capacity as resident magistrate and as registrar issuing court orders, and as the chairman of the family court, I've had one appeal – and that appeal was thrown out."
Amid the judicial crisis, it has also emerged that both Mr Law and Justice Eames resisted the Nauruan government's push for the trials of asylum seekers charged with rioting to be held inside the island's detention centre, rather than in open court.
On Tuesday Justice Eames also dismissed all the allegations in the government's statement, telling Fairfax Media: ''I can say as to all of those allegations I have never seen the slightest evidence of any one of them.''
Justice Eames said he outlined the allegations, all made by one disgruntled employee, at a meeting with Nauru's president Baron Waqa on November 26.
The president did not accept them and made it clear that Mr Law had ''the full confidence of government'', Justice Eames said.
Australia cannot 'avoid' its human rights obligations
Meanwhile, in light of the judicial crisis in Nauru, the Australian Human Rights Commission's president Gillian Triggs has reiterated her calls for all asylum seekers on Nauru and Manus Island to be returned to Australia.
Professor Triggs said the commission was particularly concerned about asylum seekers detained on Nauru and who had been charged with riot offences.
"As the commission has continued to point out, Australia cannot avoid its international human rights obligations by transferring asylum seekers to third countries and may remain liable for the consequences of doing so," she said.
"Australia should ensure that adequate safeguards are in place in those countries at all times, including the application of the rule of law."
On Tuesday, a spokeswoman for Mr Morrison said he had directed Australian officials to ask the Nauru government how the trials of asylum seekers charged with rioting in 2013 would be dealt with, in the wake of the judicial issues.
"The minister’s first concern was to establish what processes will be in place to address cases before the court in relation to the riot," she said.
"Contact was made with Minister Adeang’s department yesterday by Australian officials in Nauru and the government is awaiting a response."
The spokeswoman added that the government's offshore processing policy would continue.
The story Australian High Commission expresses concerns to Nauru over magistrate's deportation first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.