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Justice Minister cautioned over L.T.C., Judges comments

The Minister of Justice, Fa’aolesa Katopau Ainuu, has been cautioned against making disparaging comments in Parliament about the Samoa Law Society and Judges over their opposition to three controversial bills.

Speaking in the Parliament on Monday, Fa’aolesa urged the S.L.S. and High Court Judges to set aside the knowledge they acquired abroad and return to the home of the matai to learn.

He then accused the judiciary of “inappropriately objecting” to the three bills designed by the Government for the betterment of the country.  

“Use your knowledge to capture what is good and leave out what is bad,” the Minister told the Parliament.  

The proposed legislation that Fa’aolesa was referring to is the Constitution Amendment Bill 2020, the Land and Titles Court Bill 2020 and the Judicature Bill. 

Praising the Government for its foresight, he said they were looking to the future of what is best for the country and recognising the rights of village councils. 

“That is the kind of democracy impelled by the Government is good for the country, but not by objecting inappropriately. A wise person shares learning but a fool opposes learning.”  

But before the Minister could continue, Independent M.P. for Gagaifomauga no3, La’aulialemalieota Leuatea Polataivao cautioned the Minister over his accusations directed at the S.L.S. and the judiciary. 

La’auli pointed out that the society cannot respond to the comments made in the Parliament by the Minister, where he instructed the legal fraternity to go to the matai home to be educated, and such a speech is forbidden under the Standing Orders as it is directed at a person.

“We cannot try to limit their rights under the Constitution, you must generalise your statement because the Samoa Law Society cannot respond to your claims,” he said. “You are a lawyer by profession Honorable Minister you should be protecting your own sisters and brother lawyers. This is their right to voice ways they can help Samoa.” 

Fonotoe Pierre Lauofo, the Anoama’a West MP who is also a lawyer by profession, also objected to the MInister’s statement in the Parliament. 

He reminded the Minister that he too is a member of the S.L.S. and should understand that their position on the bills is done according to the concept of democracy, and added that it is healthy to have different perspectives on the three bills so once the Special Parliamentary Committee’s report is tabled in August appropriate amendments can be made.

But the Minister, in response to the two Parliamentarians’ concerns, said he was merely giving advice to the judiciary and not giving them directions on what they should do. 

Parliament continues on Tuesday with the Government responding to matters during the 2020/2021 budget debate. 

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