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Prime Minister optimistic about L.T.C Bills

Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Dr. Sa'ilele Malielegaoi, says consultations on the contentious Land and Titles Court [L.T.C.] Bills are likely to end next month.

And while there are a few villages left on Upolu to appear before the Special Parliamentary Committee, Tuilaepa is confident of overwhelming support for the proposed legislation, which seeks to restructure the judiciary and make the L.T.C. independent of the Supreme Court.

Speaking in an interview on Radio Samoa on Thursday, he said more villages are showing their support with just a few left for consultation.

“Only a few villages are remaining and the [truth] is, the country has accepted [the bills],” the Prime Minister said.

“For anything that has just started, and with people not having a full knowledge hence the disagreement but ever since they [legislation have been explained,  a lot of [villages reconsidered] and supported.”

For the few villages who have expressed their opposition to the proposed changes, Tuilaepa blamed their certain former Members of Parliament for persuading their villages to go against the bills.

“It’s because they are leading them to disagree, especially those who were in the previous Parliament term, who are [obviously] still against the Government.”

A statement issued by the Attorney General’s Office and the Samoa Law Reform Commission defended the reforms.

“The court with specialist and exclusive jurisdiction to hear and determine matters particular to Samoans and the Samoan context, inclusive of ‘tū ma aga’ [customs] of Samoan families, villages, the Alii and Faipule governance and the communal context of Samoa," the statement reads. 

Despite reports from the Office of the Legislative Clerk that there was negative feedback in relation to the bills in Savai'i, the submission from the two peak legal bodies makes no concessions for the three bills’ critics.

The two legal bodies are of the view that although the Preamble of the Constitution says Samoa is founded on God, and on ‘tū ma aga’ faa Samoa [culture and traditions], they argue that the Constitution has very limited references to the Samoan context and claimed that only some eight out of 124 Articles of the Constitution makes reference to Samoan matters. 

The three bills that are currently in the second stage of the legislative process in the Parliament are the Constitution Amendment Bill 2020; Land and Titles Bill 2020; and the Judicature Bill 2020.

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