Manono chief calls for more time to discuss proposed L.T.C. reforms

A matai from Manono says the people need more time to study the implications of the legislation to reform the Judiciary and the Land and Titles Court (L.T.C.).

Leiataua Lesa Kilali Alailima told the Samoa Observer in an interview that a lot of villagers do not know much about the three bills currently before Parliament and their implications for the Courts in Samoa.

“We need to hold off and give it a longer time or wait for any decisions especially after the emergency has been lifted,” she said.

“Right now it’s really hard for people to meet and discuss and a meeting once a month is not sufficient – so we really want to urge the Government to just allow for a longer time for more discussions – so that it’s really fully understood these bills and it’s not an easy discussion.”

Leiataua is of the view that the best time to deal with the legislation is after the 2021 General Election, as she said this will ensure that the issue is not politicised.

“You can see parties taking out for positions like it’s a party thing, but really it’s about the foundation of our country. It’s the Constitution,” she added.

Last Saturday, the village council of Manono-Uta and Manono-Tai (island) including residents gathered to discuss the issue.

However, Lei'ataua said the people await the Special Parliamentary Committee’s hearings to further their understanding of the Bills and they are all looking forward to the discussions. 

“That would be my very first request to the Government, to give the people the chance to understand the issues and do it at a time where we’re more free to meet and discuss these matters,” she added.

For the Manono chief, the independence of the Judiciary under the proposed reforms concerns her, as she fears that the passing of the Bills will give the Executive more powers over the Courts.

And while the debate surrounding communal rights is legit, Leiataua warned that their enactment will only open the door for the Government to dictate the affairs of the villages.

“Like this one about the five high chiefs. That’s a top down approach and it’s not something that we have raised, it was something that the Government has raised,’ she added.

“So my concern with the way these Bills are looks like that the law governing the Land and Titles is to be driven from top down, and there’s a danger in making decisions that really rightfully belong to the families and to villages.”

Leiataua Lesa was bestowed her matai title in Manono 10 years ago.

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