Govt. quashes N.P.O.

By Joyetter Feagaimaali’i-Luamanu ,

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ATTORNEY GENERAL: Lemalu Hermann Retzlaff.

ATTORNEY GENERAL: Lemalu Hermann Retzlaff. (Photo: Samoa Observer)

The National Prosecution Office (N.P.O.) has been dissolved.

As of Tuesday last week, the government’s prosecuting lawyers are back under the umbrella of the Attorney General’s (A.G.) Office. 

The change comes after Parliament unanimously passed the Constitution Amendment Bill (No.1) 2017 last week. 

The decision was confirmed by Attorney General, Lemalu Hermann Retzlaff.

“With Parliament unanimously confirming that criminal prosecutions will return to the Attorney General’s office, we are fully prepared and are looking forward to serve,” Lemalu told the Sunday Samoan.

He noted that there are no major initial changes to processes in place for prosecuting matters. 

 The Attorney General also acknowledged the importance of a healthy working relationship between the A.G.’s office and the Ministry of Police. 

“I have confirmed the importance of the on-going cooperation and working together with the Ministry of Police, which we hope to formalise with a M.O.U. [Memorandum of Understanding] shortly, and we will be seeking police prosecutors to join the team to assist with District Court matters." 

“There will otherwise be no major initial changes and the Criminal Division will remain in the current location for now.”

Lemalu added that currently Criminal Division prosecutors attend to both the District and the Supreme Court. 

The Attorney General’s office has requested and they will be offering more assistance in terms of attorneys in the District Court. 

In February 2017 Cabinet appointed a Tribunal to determine the future of the N.P.O. 

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi had hinted at abolishing the Office completely following problems between the N.P.O., the A.G.’s Office and the Police.

“Cabinet has to review the processes that have led to the recent clashes between government agencies,” Tuilaepa said.

 “The N.P.O has a clear responsibility to uphold the rule of law and objectivity of the criminal justice system. What we've seen has been the opposite of that.  There has been a distinct lack of wisdom in decision-making, stemming from conflicts of interest that have not been handled in the proper manner.”

The N.P.O. was headed by Mauga Precious Chang, who has since resigned.

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