P.M. welcomes S.S.I.G. protest

By James Robertson 08 May 2020, 10:09PM

The Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi, said he was “happy” about the Samoa Solidarity International Group’s (S.S.I.G.) protest on Friday morning.

The protest was against proposed changes on Lands and Titles Court.

The controversial changes proposing to make the Lands and Titles Court independent had been spelled out in the Constitution Amendment Bill 2020, the Lands and Titles Bill 2020, and the Judicature Bill 2020.

In his daily updates streamed online, Tuilaepa said he is glad the group is now going to the right place to show their opposing views.

He believes that the parade by the Group was coincidentally on the same scheduled day and time for the Samoa Law Society’s submission.

“I am actually happy. It seems they went in for a chance and they have met with the Committee and the committee has given them time to meet,” he said.

“But it seems they came right in time when the Lawyers society was there and the lawyers were shocked by the S.S.I.G’s presence.”

More than 30 cars were a part of an S.S.I.G. convoy to Mulinu'u on Friday morning, in efforts to stand together with the Samoa Law Society who argued their submission before the Parliamentary Committee on the day.

“This gang was smart though. They thought they would not be accepted, but no this nation is a free nation,” the Prime Minister added.

“What really shocked me was that there was a thought given the noise they made that there will not be a chance for them to express their concerns.”

The Constitution Amendment Bill 2020 would create a self-contained Land and Titles Court independent from the Ministry of Justice and Courts Administration.

The Bill would create a parallel and independent judicial structure, including an L.T.C. High Court and Court of Final Appeal and Review, removing the option to appeal L.T.C. decisions to the Supreme Court.

The Bill seeks to amend the Constitution and to replace the current Land and Titles Act 1981. It includes a maximum limit on the number of Paramount Chiefs allowed in a family.

In his live-streamed programme, the Prime Minister also reminded that a 90-day period is given to the public to express their opinions and concerns regarding the bills.

“It’s nice when one sends in a letter asking for clarity on the 90 days period given for a chance to talk about the bill, and yet we are announcing this every day. It’s like they’re Samoans who do not live here,” he said. 

“And we write back telling them that 90 days means three months, and as if there is a thought that the chance has been closed. These are all in our Constitution.”

Tuilaepa argued that lawyers need to read the constitution and understand that the processes being followed by the Government is well within the proper processes, saying the three months being given as consultation is a significant amount of time.

“They keep pointing out that the time is not enough, but three months is given to discuss the bills with the Committee and that’s why my voice is strong in this view because they should be the ones who know the law, but it seems they are not reading it,” he said. 

By James Robertson 08 May 2020, 10:09PM

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