Olo calls for urgency from P.M. Tuilaepa's administration

Salega Member of Parliament, Olo Fonoti Vaai, has called on Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi to make the appointment of a new Chief Justice a priority.

He also wants the Government to urgently deal with the suspension of the Ministry of Justice and Courts Administrations (M.J.C.A.) Chief Executive Officer, Papali’i John Taimalelagi, as well as the absence of the President of the Lands and Titles Court, Fepulea’i Attila Ropati.

Looking at what’s happening today, Olo said the M.J.C.A. is in “limbo”. He referred to the suspension of the Chief Executive Officer, the absence of the President of the Lands and Titles Court and the fact Prime Minister Tuilaepa has yet to hear a “secret whisper” on who to appoint as the Chief Justice.

“Nowhere else in the world you will find the Judiciary in such a situation, where people are leading on a temporary basis,” he said.

“The Prime Minister and his Cabinet should act immediately and appoint the Chief Justice, right now.”

The delay in confirming the appointments, according to Olo, is due to the executive arm of Government making decisions for the justice sector.

“The Chief Justice is retired, then there is the suspended C.E.O. and the President of the Lands and Titles has been on leave for more than a year. These positions are critically important.”

Olo credits the work being done by the Acting Chief Justice, His Honour Vui Clarence Nelson and the Acting C.E.O., Aumua Ronnie Fereti.

But he said the Government need to fill the positions immediately.

“These are the most important positions with the Judiciary".

He added that there are limitations to what the Acting C.J. and the Acting C.E.O. can do.

“And like the Prime Minister had said earlier, they are only acting in the positions. The Court is where the decisions of today will have consequences for the future of our families, children and our heritages.”

Olo then called on the Prime Minister to "seek more of the Holy Spirit" so that a Chief Justice is appointed sooner rather than later.

He added that the judiciary should have the freedom to make its own decisions as a separate arm of Government.

“The M.J.C.A. should be able to conduct its own recruitment,” he said. “They should have the authority to conduct its own affairs. And therefore my advice to the new Chief Justice, upon appointment, is to stand tall and fight for independence.

"This will ensure there is no interference from the executive and legislative branch."

It was not possible to get a comment from Prime Minister Tuilaepa at press time.

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