Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi made an unexpected announcement in Parliament yesterday. He called for a special Commission of Inquiry to investigate the performance of Land and Titles Court (L.T.C) Judges.
The call for an Inquiry was made in a Ministerial speech delivered by the Prime Minister. According to the Prime Minister, the privilege of being an L.T.C. Judge is being used as “a holiday” by some Judges until they reach the age of 70. He did not say whom he was referring to.
However, he said the Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry would determine whether the Judges are doing what they are supposed to.
“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, there is a duty of the Parliament to make an order with the two third support from the M.Ps in the House…” Tuilaepa said Parliament can submit an application to the Head of State to remove any Judge who is not performing their role with honesty.
The Prime Minister then moved a motion to establish a special Parliamentary Committee to investigate the work of L.T.C. Judges and report to Parliament for October’s sitting.
“The matters they should look into is, firstly, rule and procedures of Land and Titles Court,” he said.
“Secondly the appointments and scrutiny of the Land and Titles judges performances.
The investigation will look directly into ways to advice the Land and Titles Court development mainly on a clearer rules and procedures to deal with matters before the Court and to minimise wasted time of respondents and the load of work for the Courts where government has also wasted money on.”
Tuilaepa also pointed out that the investigation should make it clear that the appointments of L.T.C. judges are contractual so they can be re-interviewed if they are still qualified to continue their duties.
“I don’t have to say it but every work place should have its own checks to make sure that they are doing their duties.
“It’s the same with the government Ministries and State owned enterprises where after every three years the contract will be re-advertised to see if there is anyone else better than the boss (of the ministry).”
Tuilaepa recalled that during his speech in the first sitting of the XVI Parliament he spoke about many people who had raised concerns about the performance of the L.T.C.
“There are a few concerns about the criminal Courts which include the District and Supreme Court. But 99percent 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.”
However, Tuilaepa believed that even a person must try their best to fulfill their duties if they too believe that every appointment is from God.
“It’s an offense when we are given an appointment by thee who own it and we do not fully commit to it and work with all honesty.”
He reiterated that the investigation is for the general public but should not damage the foundation of the work of the Court.
“Everyone should have equal opportunity in finding justice and right decision,” he said.
The Commission will be chaired by M.P. for Vaisigano no1, Lopaoo Natanielu Mua and Deputy Chairman is Nafoitoa Talaimanu Keti.
Also in the Committee are Fonotoe Pierre Lauofo, Aliimalemanu Alofa Tuuau, Faaulusau Duffy Stowers, Faumuina Wayne Fong, Ili Setefano, the Attorney General, Ombudsman, and the Clerk of the House.
Once the report is tabled in Parliament in October the Ministry of Justice is expected to respond to the findings in November to be discussed in the December sitting.
Asked for a comment, Minister of Justice and Courts Administration, Fa’aolesa Katopau Ainuu said the Commission of Inquiry follows complaints lodged with the Prime Minister.
“I have not received any official complaint,” said Fa’aolesa. “The Prime Minister knows best.”