The island republic of Nauru has been subject to what amounts to a coup d'etat by its President, Baron Waqa, and his supporters, as a way of avoiding a series of imminent legal decisions that would go against them. Their actions leave the local population of 10,000, and hundreds of asylum seekers deposited there by Australia, in a country where the entire legal system has been not merely nobbled or disregarded but expelled. There is no other way to read the current crisis there, and Immigration Minister Scott Morrison’s remarks that the matter is an "internal one for the people of Nauru" is nonsense, both de jure and de facto.

In the last few weeks and days, the Nauruan government -- the president is chosen from a 15-member Parliament, there is no separate head of state -- has refused a visa to Geoffrey Eames, the country’s chief justice, resident in Australia, and deported its chief magistrate, Peter Law, the senior judicial figure in Eames' absence. Law was deported so as to be prevented from blocking the deportation of two Australians; one, Rod Henshaw, an ex-ABC broadcaster,was the former spokesperson for the previous government. Eames issued an injunction to prevent Law’s removal, but the refusal of a visa made it impossible for him to intervene.