Lawyer says Parliament Committee should not be advocates for bills

A senior lawyer, Leulua’iali'i Tasi Malifa, has claimed that a Special Parliamentary Committee consulting with villages on proposed bills for changing the Land and Titles Court (L.T.C.) is seeking to persuade them, instead of being impartial. 

The lawyer made the claim during an interview with E.T. Live last week, on the three bills before Parliament for establishing an independent L.T.C: the Constitution Amendment Bill 2020, Land and Titles Court Bill 2020 and Judicature Bill 2020,

Leulua’iali’i’s claims came following questions from E.T. Live, asking whether the committee was doing the right thing.

The interviewers asked whether villages previously holding negative stances to the bills have been persuaded of their merits by the consultation process. 

According to Leulua’iali’i, the Committee’s only responsibility with the consultations is to listen and collect the views from the communities.

“They do not own any rights to the spoken voices of the people more so to the bills by the Parliament,” he said.

“Can the committee change the bills? I have also heard that they are doing that to express the views of the residents.”

Leulua’iali’i believes they should only listen and not make any comments about the views and reactions from the villagers.

Unless they assist in clarifying the bills would be the only thing they can do apart from the listening, he said.

According to the senior lawyer, the Committee has responded to negative feedback from the residents during consultations, by saying that the bills are already advanced through the lawmaking process, so there is not much to do.

“I have heard [...] that other villages who have rejected the bills have changed their minds due to these (persuasive responses by the Committee),” Leulua’iali’i said.

Attempts to get a comment from members of the Committee were unsuccessful.

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