Public access to Courts restricted

Members of the public have been given restricted access to the Courts in Mulinu’u due to the measles outbreak and the prohibition on public gatherings following the issuing of a state of emergency. 

In the Supreme Court on Monday, Justice Leiataualesa Daryl Clarke, made an order for members of the public to leave the Court room except for the media, Court officers and lawyers. 

Those being remanded in custody and those on bail who had matters for criminal mention were not included in the order for members of the public. 

Justice Leiataualesa said the order was necessary because of the current state of the measles epidemic.

Disgruntled members of the public, mainly family members of the accused, were drawn into heated exchanges with Police Officers who were forced to explain to them why they were not allow in Court.

At the District Courts, the same order was also put into effect, disallowing members of the public inside the Court unless they were defendants or witnesses for a matter.  

Most of the people at the Courts were relatives of those in custody who wanted to attend Court to support their family members.  

In Mulinu’u yesterday, some parents brought their children with them to the Courts including babies under 4 years, despite a state of emergency order that all organised public gatherings must not include the presence of children up to the age of 19. 

There was no official notice posted at the Ministry of Justice, Courts and Administration in relation to a ban on children attending the Courts with their parents. 

Queries sent to the M.J.C.A. Chief Executive Officer, Moliei Simi Vaai, were not responded to at press time.  

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