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Consultation discussion confidential says Parliamentary Committee

A member of the Special Parliamentary Committee tasked to review three bills into the Land and Titles Court says discussion made during consultations are confidential. 

Member of Parliament for Vaimauga East, Sulamanaia Tuivasa Tauiliili made the comments in response to allegations that the Committee criticised the Samoa Law Society and its public position on the legislations. 

The three bills involved are the Constitution Amendment Bill 2020, Judicature Bill 2020 and the Land and Titles Bill 2020. 

Several people present during the lawyers submissions two weeks ago confirmed the Committee members had questioned the lawyers who they think they are for calling on the three bills to be withdrawn. 

Furthermore, it was reported that there was tension between the lawyers and the Committee members at the beginning of the Society's submission that has not was deferred to continue on to another day. 

The Committee had advised the society that they will have to finish their submission at a later day. 

Asked to comment on the reports, Sulamanaia said everything discussed inside the Committee are protected under confidentiality privileges. 

Lawyer Muriel Lui, a member of the Samoa Law Society committee who was present during the submissions was asked to comment about the reports. 

She said the Samoa Law Society will not be drawn into comment on the reports. 

“We do not want to talk too much about our discussions with the Select Committee because we have not actually finished our submissions that will be continued on this Friday,” she said. 

“However it must be made clear that the only reason the Samoa Law Society made the three Bills public and encouraged the public to be aware is because we have a duty to do so.

“We have a duty to our people to ensure they are aware of any legal documents that propose to remove their human rights and change the legal system they are subject to.”

The senior lawyer pointed out the Law Society was only made aware of the three bills after its second reading in parliament and were on its way to getting passed without public knowledge. 

“So given our privileged position as lawyers who are trained to read and understand these legal documents, we had a duty to inform our people that there were these three bills affecting them and their rights that were on the way to getting passed as law without their say,” she said.

“We do not benefit financially, politically or otherwise from raising public awareness [on the bills]. 

“In fact if we were self-serving and selfish, we would want these bills to get passed as is because it would no doubt create legal chaos and we all know that means more business for us lawyers. “But we do not want that and we want to protect our families, our children and our people.”

Ms. Lui said the Society will continue to maintain its position and will continue to help the people understand the legal ramification of the proposed legislations. 

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