Chief Justice Satiu reminds about separation of powers

The Chief Justice, His Honour Satiu Simativa Perese, has reminded about the importance of the concept of the separation of powers.

"The three branches of government are independent of each other, and that is what we call the separation of powers," he said. 

"We do not act together as a committee, but rather three separate parts of a whole."

His Honour Satiu made the point during his maiden speech as the Chief Justice, after he was sworn in by the Head of State, His Highness Tuimalealiifano Vaaletoa Sualauvi II, on Friday at Vailele.

The ceremony was attended by Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi, Speaker of Parliament, Leaupepe Toleafoa Faafisi, members of judiciary and other distinguished guests. 

The Chief Justice Satiu highlighted the importance of the Constitution.

"The Constitution by which Samoa obtained independence established three parts of government in Samoa," he said. 

"The Parliament being elected representatives of the people who are responsible for making the laws of Samoa; the Executive who have the power to exercise executive power to run the country; and the third branch of government is the Judiciary, who interpret and administer the law in accordance with its jurisdiction to possess and exercise all the jurisdiction, power and authority, which may be necessary to administer the laws of Samoa".

 In his maiden address, His Honour says he considers the independence of, and respect for the impartiality of the Judicial arm of the government, as two important qualities that the Court must continue to maintain.

“The mechanisms by which the Judiciary’s independence is preserved are well established; by the fact that Judges are appointed until they reach the age of retirement,” he said. 

“And can only be removed by the approval of two thirds of the members of Parliament upon the grounds of mis-behaviour or mental illness.

Furthermore, Judges’ salaries are determined by a Tribunal which is responsible for also setting the salaries of the Head of State, Members of Parliament and Cabinet.”

Chief Justice Satiu said the method by which the judiciary maintains the integrity of its impartiality is apply the rule of law and to speak through its judgments. 

He added that the judiciary should only very rarely engage in public discourse on issues that may ultimately require their interpretation and determination.

“When parties come to Judges for determination, they should be confident that a Judge will act with impartial fairness,” he said.

Proposed changes in the Constitution is moving to change the appointment and removal of Judges of the Court giving the Judicial Service Commission to make those decisions.

Those changes are in the Constitution Amendment Bill 2020, Judicature Bill 2020 and Land and Titles Court Bill 2020.  

Concerns were raised by Samoa Law Society on the proposed changes threatening the independence of Judges by giving the Commission full of Government appointees to decide their fate. 

When the Samoa Observer asked the Chief Justice about his views on the L.T.C. Bills, he said his only view is that he is impressed that there is a lot of interest of the issues.  He said the volume of discussion shows that people care about what is happening.

“It’s interesting to listen and to take it in [discussions],” he said. 


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