Cabinet terminates contract for C.E.O. of Justice Papali’i

Cabinet has terminated the services of the Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Justice and Courts Administration (M.J.C.A.), Papali’i John Taimalelagi.

The decision was confirmed by the Minister of Justice and Courts Administration, Fa’aolesa Katopau Ainu’u, during an interview with the Samoa Observer today in his office. 

The Minister was accompanied by his Associate Minister, So’oalo Mene, during the interview.

“The decision (to terminate) was based upon the recommendation by the Public Service Commission (P.S.C.),” Fa’aolesa told the Samoa Observer.

Attempts by this newspaper to get comments from Papali’i were unsuccessful. Questions sent to him by email have not been responded to.

The investigation by the P.S.C. was launched in August last year.

It was triggered by the release of Court files from the Court to the Office of Minister Fa’aolesa.

The files were delivered by the Ministry of Justice and Courts Administration employee, Tualima Pio and the Secretary of Chief Executive Officer, Papali’i John Taimalelagi, to the Minister’s office in 2016.

Mr. Pio reported the matter to the Chief Justice before he told the Samoa Observer about it.

Later, an investigation by the Public Service Commission (P.S.C.) into the removal of the files – and other matters at the Ministry – was launched.

 It led to the suspension of C.E.O. Papali’i John, A.C.E.O. Veataulia Fa’atasi Puleiata and the termination of the services of another A.C.E.O, Galuo Serah Skelton.

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

During the interview, the Minister said Cabinet took the matter seriously.

“I support the decision by the Cabinet,” said Fa’aolesa The Samoa Observer inquired as to what charges the P.S.C. based its recommendation on, and the Minister said it is “confidential.”

He referred further queries to the P.S.C.

Several emails to the Chairman of the P.S.C., Aiono Mose Su’a, for comments have not been answered.

Asked whether Papali’i’s contract has been terminated due to the removal of Court files, the Minister said no.

“I can tell you that it is not the recommendation of P.S.C.," he said, referring to the removal of the Court files. "It is the other charge that involves the other Fa’atasi (Ve’ataulia Assistant C.E.O.).

“And I told you about what the law says about the removal of Court files, the Minister directs.”

Last month, Fa’aolesa explained that the Supreme Court Judicature orders says the Registrar shall be responsible to the Minister of Justice for the administration and control of the Court offices and he shall keep or cause to be kept such records of the proceedings of the Court and matters pertaining thereto as the Minister of Justice may direct.

“This means when the Minister of Justice directs to bring the files, they bring the files,” he said.

Put to the Minister the termination of two top positions, within his Ministry is a bad reflection of his leadership, he said: “The events that led to this (termination of contracts) were carried forth from previous years.

“It’s sad what’s happening but we have to move on, and this can happen to any Minister, but just because there are issues does not warrant me to step down as Minister.

“And that is not my call for me to step down. That is the call of the Prime Minister on his own. This ministerial post, you get on board with the realisation that it is only temporary; this is not a position that belongs to your family.  

“If the Prime Minister think, my performance is not up to par, then pack your bags,” said Fa’aolesa.


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