Samoa Law Reform Director stays mum on L.T.C. bills

The Executive Director of the Samoa Law Reform Commission, Teleiai Dr. Lalotoa Mulitalo, has declined to respond to criticisms directed at her Office over three bills before Parliament. 

The bills in question are the Constitution Amendment Bill 2020, Land and Titles Court Bill 2020 and the Judicature Bill 2020. 

When Teleiai, who made a second presentation on the Constitution Amendment Bill 2020 before Parliamentarians yesterday, was approached for a comment, she said she was already running late for a Cabinet meeting. 

The three bills had already been the subject of a previous pre-Parliament session.

But the Samoa Observer understands yesterday's pre-Parliament sitting again focused on the bills that have been referred to a Special Parliamentary Committee.

The Electoral Amendment Bill 2020 was also discussed.

Clerk of Legislative Assembly, Tiatia Graeme Tualaulelei, said the briefing was intended for the Special Committee but the invitation was extended to other members.  

“Since there is no new Bill to be introduced in the Legislative Assembly session tomorrow, Hon Speaker decided that this was a great opportunity to share views on the three bills currently before the Special Committee,” said Tiatia.

The Clerk said the pre-sitting, attended by more than 20 people, was approved the Cabinet.

He referred to the state of emergency order provision 16 where procedures of Cabinet and Parliament may be relaxed during the state of emergency so that decision making for the good of the country. 

“For effective decision making for the country, the above Orders do not bar any urgent and essential meetings of Cabinet and Parliament to take place during the State of Emergency,’ the provision states.

The media remains banned from covering the pre-sitting. 

Meanwhile, Teleiai during the previous pre-sitting briefing in March before bills were tabled in Parliament discussed the reason behind the proposed changes. 

A summary on the L.A. website of that pre-sitting, Teleiai said it is every judicature’s wish to have more of Samoa’s culture and traditions reflecting in its Supreme law. 

She outlined three objectives of the bill with the first is to recognise the decisions made in Village Fono as there were various issues which came about on the issue of individual rights versus collective rights. 

Secondly, it is to recognise the decisions made by the Land and Titles Court and thirdly the independence of the Land and Titles Court. 

The Executive Director elaborated that the recommendations made by the Special Inquiry Committee on the Land and Titles Court in 2016 gave rise to the provisions of the Bill. 

She said “to factor in the customs and traditions of Samoa the bill provides the independence of the L.T.C.” 

Overall the Constitution Amendment Bill, she said, seeks to emphasise the separation of the Lands and Titles Court from the original Civil and Criminal Supreme Court. 

“Though both will be regarded as the same level of importance, their jurisdictions are different and both courts will be independent from each other,” she said. 

Furthermore, the Bill seeks to bind the provisions of the Lands and Titles Bill 2020.

The Ministry of Justice Courts and Administration, Chief Executive Officer, Moliei Simi – Vaai also made a presentation on the L.T.C. Bill 2020 in the March pre-sitting. 

She reiterated that the changes reflect government’s ongoing goal of ensuring that Samoa’s customs and traditions in its laws. 

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