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Sacked Justice C.E.O. writes to P.S.C. and P.M. Tuilaepa

The former Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Justice and Courts Administration (M.J.C.A.), Papali’i John Taimalelagi, has asked Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi’s administration to reconsider the decision to terminate his contract.

The request is made in a letter addressed to the Chairman of the Public Service Commission (P.S.C.), Aiono Mose Su’a. Dated 6th May 2019 and signed by Papali’i John, Prime Minister Tuilaepa, who is also the Minister of P.S.C., is copied.

“I write to respectfully request that Government reconsiders its decision regarding (the) termination of my employment,” the letter reads.

Cabinet’s decision to terminate Papali’i’s contract was made after a P.S.C. investigation into matters at the M.J.C.A. – including the removal of Court files from the Court to the Office of the Minister of Justice and Courts Administration, Fa’aolesa Katopau Ainu’u.

Papali’i was also investigated for inappropriate behaviour towards female employees, and misconduct in relation to other Ministry employees.

In his letter to the P.S.C. Chairman, the former C.E.O. asked for the decision to be overturned “so I can defend my name and my honour.”

“First and foremost, I had vehemently denied all the sexual harassment charges P.S.C. had a filed against me,” Papali’i writes.

“My denial of the charges was made clear to P.S.C.’s representative (Tim) and in my written response to the charges. However, I was forced to admit the charges as I was pressured to do so by the Hon. Minister of Justice and P.S.C. member, Auelua Samuelu Enari.

“I was told that I had to admit the charges to avoid further and lengthier investigations and disciplinary proceedings and that my penalty would only be a “warning”.

“Associate Minister So’oalo Mene was present at those meetings with the P.S.C’s representatives (Tim) at my office and the meeting with the Minister at his office and can vouch that I had admitted to the charges under duress.”

Attempts to get comments from Minister Fa’aolesa and the Associate Minister So’oalo were unsuccessful. The Minister of Justice has not responded to emails and messages left with his office since Tuesday. The Samoa Observer also visited his office and his home to no avail.

It was the same with Associate Minister So’oalo.

But P.S.C. Member, Auelua, rejected the allegations by the former C.E.O.

“I understand that Afioga Papali’i John Taimalelagi has written to the Chairman of the Commission indicating the accusations you have alluded to,” Auelua said.

“I can confirm the accusation leveled against me is not true.

“I also understand that the Chairman of the Commission has already responded and this was received by Mr. Taimalelagi (via letter) — and I suggest that the Chairman's response should be read together with Mr. Taimalelagi's letter — to put in context the contents of the two documents into perspective.”

Asked for a comment, P.S.C. Chairman Aiono confirmed the letter from Papali’i.

“A letter in reply has been delivered to Afioga Papali'í JohnTaimalelagi. The letter is confidential,” Aiono wrote in response to questions from the Samoa Observer.

In his letter though, Papali’i questioned the process of the investigation.

“This is clearly a breach of natural justice. In addition, I have not been provided with any reason for my termination. My name and reputation has been adversely affected by the charges,” Papali'i wrote.

Papali’i’s letter is published below:

6 May 2019 

Afioga Aiono Mose Pouvi Sua

Chairman

Public Service Commission

APIA

Re: Termination of Contract

I write to respectfully request that Government reconsiders its decision regarding (the) termination of my employment.

First and foremost, I had vehemently denied all the sexual harassment charges P.S.C. had a filed against me. My denial of the charges was made clear to P.S.C’s representative (Tim) and in my written response to the charges.

However, I was forced to admit the charges as I was pressured to do so by the Hon. Minister of Justice and P.S.C. member, Auelua Samuelu Enari. I was told that I had to admit the charges to avoid further and lengthier investigations and disciplinary proceedings and that my penalty would only be a “warning”.

Associate Minister So’oalo Mene was present at those meetings with the P.S.C’s representatives (Tim) at my office and the meeting with the Minister at his office and can vouch that I had admitted to the charges under duress.

I also question the process employed by P.S.C because Auelua is the Hon. Minister’s brother in law and therefore should not have been involved at all. It appears that he has been in contact with the Hon. Minister during the investigations because when I refused to his suggestion on the phone that I admit the charges, the Hon. Minister then contacted me about ten minutes later to attend to his office where I was forced to admit the charges. It was obvious to me that the Hon. Minister did not want the investigations to be widened to include the removal of court files so therefore he had a vested interest in terminating my service.

Also in relation to the process is the fact that I was not given the opportunity to be heard before both the P.S.C. and Cabinet as to the appropriate penalty. This is clearly a breach of natural justice. In addition, I have not been provided with any reason for my termination.

My name and reputation has been adversely affected by the charges. My request is for my termination to be overturned so that disciplinary process against me can proceed in accordance with natural justice so I can defend my name and my honour.

I believe there is ample and justiciable grounds for termination to be reversed as the process which led up to my termination was unfair, riddled with the conflict of interest and in breach of natural justice.

I await your reply and will come and see the Commission when you are available. Fa’afetai.

Papali’i John Taimalelagi Afele

Cc: Susuga Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi, Honourable Prime Minister/ Minister of the Public Service Commission

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