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Settlement of civil claims by Govt. remain confidential – Sili

The Government's position on the settlement of civil claims should remain confidential despite the use of taxpayer money.

That is the position of the Minister of Finance, Sili Epa Tuioti, when he was asked to comment on a call by colleague MP Olo Fiti Vaai for details of a $1 million lawsuit against the Police by a Suitupe Misa. 

Sili said it is true that taxpayer money will ultimately be used to compensate someone who is wrongly accused by the State, but it is up to Government to decide how best to use the funding. 

“It’s true it is tax payer’s monies, but it is up to the Government how best to utilise it. And we are talking about people who have been wrongly accused by the government, we have to compensate them," he said. 

Olo last week said the public had the right to know how much was paid by the Government as compensation to the aggrieved man. 

“It is our money that will be used to pay for these things and I think we have the right to know how much is being paid in these settlements as a result of reckless actions by government employees,” he said. 

But the Minister disagreed and said: “There are certain cases where the compensation (details) have to be confidential. And sometimes, it is the Court orders that has these things (become) confidential or the plaintiff, they may not want the public to know how much the compensation is.” 

When it was put to him that this is taxpayer money involved and there needs to be transparency, he said: “I don’t care I am saying there are certain cases where compensations are confidential, but not all and we address it cases by case." 

“I guess that man (Misa) and the lawyers how negotiated this case on behalf of the Government has opted to keep the settlement confidential. But if the Court has issued an order and give out the amount and then of course people will have to know how much is the compensation," he added.

The lawsuit was filed by Mr. Misa for his wrongful arrest and detention in relation to a 2015 incident at the Fugalei market. The matter was set down for a hearing last November. But the Court was later advised by the Attorney General’s Office that the lawsuit had been settled. 

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