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Parliament takes L.T.C. Bills talk to villages

Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Dr. Sa'ilele Malielegaoi, has assured that the three bills concerning the Lands and Titles Court and the Judiciary will not return to Parliament unless a Committee hears the views of villagers throughout the country.

This includes representations from Village Councils in Upolu, Savai'i, Apolima and Manono.

As part of the process, Tuilaepa said members of Parliamentary Committee tasked to review the Constitution Amendment Bill 2020, Lands and Titles Court Bill 2020 and Judicature Bill 2020, will be visiting villages and meeting with them to garner their views.

Tuilaepa provided the assurance during his 2AP programme where he said claims about the lack of consultation especially at the village level are unfounded.

“The bills can’t go through to the third reading without going through this [consultation] process,” assured Tuilaepa. 

“Ninety days, that’s three months. This was one of the concerns from the lawyers [Society] that there was no enough time for any consultation.”

The Special Parliamentary Committee is Chaired by Gatoloaifa’ana Amataga Alesana Gidlow. Members include Namulauulu Sami Leota, Sulamanaia Tuivasa Tauiliili, Faaulusau Duffy Stowers, Fuimaono Teo Samuelu, Leaana Ronnie Posini and Ili Setefano Ta’ateo.

The public consultation, which have been closed to the media, started on Friday 1 May and is ongoing. 

A requirement for an amendment into the Constitution is a 90 days with that timeframe expiring in August. 

Last week, a member of the Committee, Fuimaono Te’o Samuelu, said processes following the Inquiry will be unique.

Despite normal processes of inquiries to be compiled and reported to Parliament after its completion, the L.T.C. matters will be taken out to the villages for consultations, said the M.P. for Falealili in an announcement to a march at Mulinu’u last week. 

“The intention of the Committee is to ensure that this is not the end,” he said.

“Even in Salafai (Savai’i), the committee will be going out to the constituencies from village to village to clarify and consult with everyone [on the bills].

“The Committee has decided to give the opportunity to the public to bring in their concerns and thoughts to build this law, because the bill belongs to us and not anyone else’s.”

According to the Practice and Procedure Manual for the Legislative Assembly, Special Committees are appointed by the Assembly upon request by the community to advocate in respect of particular issues. 

Special Committees report to Cabinet rather than the Assembly, the manual says. 

Furthermore it states that Special Committees may hold hearings and conduct visits subject to their terms of reference and available funding.

In terms of the jurisdiction of the Special Committees, it does not have powers to send for people or papers, and may not summon people to attend hearings or produce papers. 

Parliamentary privilege does not apply to the proceedings of Special Committees.

The Clerk of the Legislative Assembly, Tiatia Graeme Tualaulelei, did not respond to questions from the Samoa Observer about the process.

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