P.M. stays mum on rift claim

By Lanuola Tupufia – Ah Tong ,

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Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi.

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi. (Photo: File)

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi has declined to deny or confirm a rift between Judges of the Land and Titles Court (L.T.C) and a Parliament-ordered Commission of Inquiry into the performance of their duties.

Asked if it’s true that the Land and Titles Court Judges have refused to cooperate with the Commission of Inquiry, Tuilaepa said he couldn’t comment.

“Ask them (judges) why?” he said. 

“I don’t have any comments but go ask them why. All I can say is that it wont affect the work (of the Commission of Inquiry).”

Questions for the President of L.T.C, Fepuleai Ropati Atilla, sent through the Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Justice and Courts Administration,  Papali’i John Taimalelagi were not responded to at press time.

Last week, the Chairman of the Commission, Lopao’o Natanielu Mua, also declined to deny or confirm the reports.

Lopao’o instead said “you will see everything when the report comes out”. 

Pushed to explain how the Commission is to compile the report without the views of L.T.C. Judges, the Chairman said there is a term of reference to follow. 

“The report will be provided to them,” Lopao’o insisted. 

During last week’s Parliament session, Lopao’o moved a motion to extend the time for their submission until the December sitting. 

Earlier this year, Prime Minister Tuilaepa ordered a C.O.I to review performance of the L.T.C Judges. 

According to the Prime Minister, the privilege of being an L.T.C. Judge was being abused by some Judges who are using the opportunity as “a holiday” until they reach the age of 70.

“There needs to be checks for men and women judges of the Land and Titles Court,” Tuilaepa said.

 “If the Court does not fix its internal issues, it is the duty of Parliament to make an order with the two third support from the M.Ps in the House…” 

Tuilaepa said Parliament could submit an application to the Head of State to remove any Judge who is not performing their role with honesty.

“There are a few concerns about the criminal Courts which include the District and Supreme Court. But 99 percent of the complaints have shown distress from the public because of decisions from the Land and Titles Court.

“The truth is no matter how hard we try to make something a 100 percent, we cannot make it a 100 percent because the good wheat will always grow together with the bad ones.”

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