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Minister could lose power to move files

The "authority" of the Minister of Justice and Courts Administration to remove Court files could soon be removed, if a proposed bill is passed by Parliament.

The amendment is one of several proposed changes to the Land and Titles Court Bill 2020, which have been referred to the Special Parliamentary Committee for review, together with the two other bills. 

Under Clause 6 of the L.T.C. Bill 2020, the proposed law seeks to prohibit the removal of Court records. 

It also prohibits access to Court records without the permission of the L.T.C. President or the Registrar.

The amendment follows concerns raised last year after the Minister of Justice and Courts Administration, Fa’aolesa Katopau Ainu’u was accused of removing Court files. 

Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi was of the view at that time that the law gave the Minister of Justice authority to direct the movement of Court files. 

In 2016, Land and Titles Court files were removed from the Court and taken to Minister Fa’aolesa’s office. 

The files were delivered by Ministry of Justice and Courts Administration employee, Tualima Pio and secretary of former M.J.C.A. C.E.O., Papali’I John Taimalelagi.

Mr. Pio said he was instructed by his superior to deliver the files. 

He added that he had reported the matter to the then Chief Justice before he told the Samoa Observer about it. 

The employee alleged that he delivered the files – which were in relation to the Ainu’u title of Sapapali’i and another about boundaries of Atua – from the vicinity of the Court to the Office of the Minister. 

An investigation by the Public Service Commission (P.S.C.), into the removal of the files and other matters at the Ministry was later launched, and led to the termination of Papali’i's contract, who also faced other P.S.C. charges.

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