The government has found an unlikely supporter in its condemnation of the Land and Titles Court Judges for refusing to submit to a Parliament-ordered Inquiry.
The support comes from Opposition Member of Parliament, Olo Fiti Va’ai, who said the decision by the Judges to abstain from the Inquiry was unpleasant and disrespectful.
Speaking in Parliament yesterday, Olo urged the Speaker of the House, Leaupepe Toleafoa Fa’afisi, to straighten up the matter.
“This is a new Commission,” said Olo. “The Judges probably didn’t know much about it and that’s why they were on strike. But this is why it is important to make things clear."
“They should know that in any country, the highest Court is Parliament. But this situation just makes me sad because it seems like they don’t respect and obey an order from Parliament.”
Olo reminded that no one is above the law. Judges are not immune.
“We are to follow the laws,” he said. “Because in reality, most of us have been to Court, but have they ever come up with a decision to forgive whatever matter we were there for in the first place? No nothing like that has ever happened."
Olo said the Judiciary should have respected the order from Parliament.
“You see every time we go to Court, we always have to obey and abide by the laws of Court and the rules given by the judges,” he said.
“And if someone does not abide by these laws, they will give us a contempt of Court order. So it is a must for all of us to obey the laws from Court otherwise we will be penalised for contempt of court.
“For Parliament, they have a law and Standing Order where any Parliamentary Committee can summon anyone in the country except the Head of States."
“In this case, the Judges were summoned by the Commission but they chose not to, and this is a contempt of Parliament.”
Olo believes the Speaker of Parliament should act.
“He is the Judge of the Parliament Court and he should make the decision for Parliament."
“Like I mentioned earlier, some have pleaded to forgive the judges. But for me, I believe that the Parliament should make their decision."
“They should follow the guidelines and laws of Parliaments. Because every time a Member of Parliament stands in Court, the judges always say that no one is above the law, even if you are a Member of Parliament; we are no exception."
“And that’s the same for Judges as well. If a Parliamentary Committee has summoned them, they should’ve obeyed and followed it.”
Olo added that such behavior is embarrassing.
“The way I see it, this is very embarrassing because it seems like the judges are depreciating the call by Parliament."
“You have to remember, this is where decisions are made for everyone in Samoa. This is highest Court in any country."
“Each M.P represents their people in this Court and we are making decisions for everyone in Samoa. And if they are going against it, then it shows that they disagree with the whole of Samoa as well."
“A call from Parliament is a call from Samoa as well. The Court is just a small institution.”
The special Commission of Inquiry was tasked to investigate the performance of Land and Titles Court (L.T.C) Judges."
The call to set up the Commission was made by Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi in June last year.
And Olo immediately gave the P.M his support. He said the Commission was long overdue.
According to Olo, the public has long suffered from the delays in the decisions made by the Land and Titles Court.
“The Courts have been advised by Parliament for quite some time about the grievances from our people,” said Olo. “We have cases that have been dragged on from ten years ago without any final decision. I fully support the call because if Parliament doesn’t make the call on the Land and Titles Court then no one will.”
The M.P. pointed out that allowing the Commission of Inquiry would mean that Parliament is assisting the other arm of democracy.
He added that the ruling Human Rights Protection Party will always have the upper hand when making such decisions for a Commission of Inquiry.