Senior lawyer criticises Fepulea’i's reinstatement

A senior lawyer has criticised Parliament's decision to reinstate of the Lands and Titles Court President Fepulea’i Atilla Ropati.

Leiataualesa Koria Komisi told the Samoa Observer in an interview at his office in Moto’otua that the reinstatement was "irresponsible".

He said the outcome of the vote in the Parliament was disappointing and discouraging from a rule of law perspective. 

“The outcome of the Parliamentary vote is extremely disappointing and discouraging from a rule of law perspective. 

“I feel that the reinstatement of the President despite his conviction by the Court of Appeal was irresponsible. 

In order for democracy and the rule of law to flourish in Samoa, Leiataualesa said the public should have confidence that the Government will pass laws that are fair and applied evenly and the judiciary will maintain and uphold its integrity. 

“The outcome of Parliamentary vote has, in my view, lessened that confidence. 

“By voting to reinstate the President, Parliament has prioritised the interests of one individual.

“In doing so, it has severely undermined the interests, the integrity and the public perception of the important public office that this particular individual represents,” he said.

The concerns expressed by the lawyer come after the Deputy Prime Minister Fiame Naomi Mata’afa – who made a statement before the vote was taken last week – criticised the recommendation by the Parliamentary Special Inquiry Committee for Fepulea’i to continue in the role as L.T.C. President. 

“We make the laws; we should live by those laws. 

You have heard my ministerial speech where I pointed out the criminal convictions of the President.The decision by the District Court to fine him considering the charge is a result of his bad behaviour.”

“We stand by the law, we are lawmakers, we live, abide and respect the law. 

“I strongly support the motion by the Government to terminate the services of the President of the Lands and Titles Court.

"I strongly reject the report submitted by the (Special Inquiry) Committee. Their report should be removed from the hansard, as it only brings shame to this Parliament,” said Fiame. 

When the vote was taken last Tuesday, 21 Members of Parliament voted against returning the President while 18 voted in favour of Fepulea’i continuing in the job. 

Both Fiame and Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa'ilele Malielegaoi voted against the reinstatement of Fepulea’i.

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