Cabinet suspends Chief Executive Officer of Ministry of Justice

The Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Justice and Courts Administration (M.J.C.A.), Papali'i John Taimalelagi, has been suspended by Cabinet.

A copy of the Warrant of Suspension, signed by the Head of State, His Highness Tuimleali’ifano Va’aletoa Sualauvi II, on Thursday 21 March 2019, confirmed the decision.

"I, Tuimalealiifano Vaaletoa Sualauvi II, Head of State of the Independent of Samoa, acting pursuant to Cabinet Directive FK (19) 11 dated 20 March, 2019 and section 12 of the Public Service Act 2004 suspend Papali'i John Taimalelagi Afele as CEO of MJCA for a period of one month with remuneration,” the warrant reads.

The Sunday Samoan understands that the warrant was issued following Cabinet’s weekly meeting on Wednesday where the matter was discussed and the decision made.

Attempts to get a comment from Papali’i – including a visit to his residence in Sapapali’i, Savai’i, and phone calls - were unsuccessful. 

At the Ministry of Justice’s building, an official at the Office said Papali’i was not at work and that for the Samoa Observer to contact him again on Monday.

The Sunday Samoan spotted him in Savai’i on the same day during the by-election for Faasaleleaga No. 2, still driving his government-issued vehicle, MJCA 10. 

An email to the Chairman of the Public Service Commission (P.S.C.), Aiono Mose Sua, asking for further information on the suspension, was not responded to at press time last night.

The Sunday Samoan can confirm, however, the suspension is in connection to an ongoing P.S.C. Inquiry at the Ministry of Justice and Courts Administration.

The investigation, launched in August last year, was initiated by concerns surrounding the security and release of Court files from the Court to the Office of the Minister of Justice and Courts Administration, Fa’aolesa Katopau Ainuu.   

The P.S.C. extended the scope of the investigation to look at internal policies and procedures on managing the use and access to government vehicles and other assets.

The inquiry is also looking at the Ministry’s daily operations to determine whether any breaches of public service values, principles and the code of conduct in the discharge of official duties, was committed.

On 25 February 2019, the Commission charged Papali’i with six P.S.C. charges.

The P.S.C. charges are in relation to the alleged removal of Court files from the Court building, alleged inappropriate behaviour towards female employees and alleged misconduct in relation to other Ministry employees among other matters.

Two other senior M.J.C.A. officials have been charged by the P.S.C in relation to the investigation. One of them has had her contracted terminated by Cabinet.

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