M.P. calls for review of criminal case delays
A Member of Parliament has questioned the length of time taken for criminal proceedings to reach their conclusion, citing as an example a case involving his late son, and requested the Justice Minister to review Court case loads.
M.P. Sulamanaia Tauiliili Tuivasa - whose son passed away in December 2018 in a case due to be ruled upon in court - said he was generally concerned by the length of time it was taking for criminal matters to pass through the judicial process.
But the Minister responsible for the Justice and Courts Administration, Fa’aolesa Katopau Ainu’u, responded to the queries by saying that it was imperative that cases not be rushed.
The comments were made on Thursday and in the context of a debate about the issue of court backlogs in Samoa. The Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi, also lamented a backlog of court cases and said Cabinet had been increasing the number of Judges in the country to address the problem.
The Justice Minister said the handling of the case involving his parliamentary colleague's late son could not be "rushed" and neded to follow standard procedure common to all cases in the Supreme Court.
“When it comes to Court proceedings the Judges encounter difficulties in their line of work and, in saying that, if we rush the case there are potential repercussions as seen in other cases," Fa’aolesa said on Thursday.
(The Minister did not reference to which case he was referring to.)
“The concern is that, if we rush the case and someone ends up in jail, then it would useless. The only positive note is that we have a secure prison,” said Fa’aolesa.
Sulamanaia interjected and expressed disappointment with the Minister's response.
“What he said about rushing the criminal proceedings will land the men in jail, does not sit well with me," the M.P. said.
“I am using my son’s case as an example but considering that his case has been pending for more than a year.
“If that is the case, why are you scared to send them to jail?
“I used my son’s case as an example of cases that are delayed, but I was speaking generally"
Sulamanaia said their family has “forgiven and forgotten” the incident, but chided the Minister for his comment.
“I was speaking generally. The reality is you shouldn’t have responded it was a request for you to look into the delayed cases," he said..
Fa’aolesa ultimately apologised to the M.P. for the nature of his response and thanked him for his forgiving heart.
Tuilaepa said that Cabinet was ready to provide assistance on the issue of a shortage of Judges in response to the debate between the two about a backlog in criminal cases.
Tuilaepa called for amendments to make is compulsory for judges to render court decisions within three months or resign from office.