September 27, 2022

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A senior member of the New Zealand judiciary has followed Irish colleagues in resigning from the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) Courts.

William Young, a former supreme court judge in New Zealand, resigned in recent days, becoming the third newly appointed member of the court to quit in the past three weeks.

Earlier this month, former High Court president Peter Kelly stepped down from the DIFC Courts, days after former chief justice Frank Clarke submitted his resignation to the Gulf court.

Mr Young had been sworn in alongside the Irish retired judges and British justice Michael Black at a virtual ceremony on July 27th. The ceremony was conducted in the presence of Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, deputy ruler of Dubai and president of the Dubai International Financial Centre.

The New Zealand Herald reported on Friday Mr Young (70), who led the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the March 15th, 2019 Christchurch terror attack, had confirmed his resignation. Inquiries by the newspaper followed the removal of his name and photograph from the DIFC’s list of judges.

The DIFC website, however, continues to carry a press release, published on July 27th, announcing the appointment of the four retired judges to its court of appeal. The release says: “Judges Frank Clarke, Peter Kelly, William Young and Michael Black expressed their gratitude for the opportunity to be part of DIFC Courts.

“The ceremony was also attended by His Excellency Essa Kazim, governor of DIFC; Justice Zaki Azmi, chief justice of DIFC Courts; and His Excellency Justice Omar Al Mheiri, director of DIFC Courts.”

It adds: “The DIFC Courts, which is considered the foremost English language common law jurisdiction in the region, offers a transparent and independent legal environment led by distinguished, internationally renowned judges.”

The judges had come under pressure following their appointments given widespread human rights concerns about the Dubai regime.

In its 2021 report on the United Arab Emirates, Amnesty International says: “The government continued to commit serious human rights violations, including arbitrary detention, cruel and inhuman treatment of detainees, suppression of freedom of expression, and violation of the right to privacy. The right to health was partially fulfilled.

“The United Arab Emirates (UAE) continued to deprive stateless individuals of the right to nationality, impacting their access to a range of services. Courts passed death sentences and executions were reported.”

The DIFC declined to comment on the resignations.

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