Saoluafata supports L.T.C. changes
The village of Saoluafata has told a Special Parliamentary Committee it supports three bills before Parliament proposing the reform of the country’s judiciary.
On Tuesday, matai and women from the village of Saoluafata met with the committee to present their views and opinions on the proposed changes entailed in the Constitutional Amendment Bill 2020, the Lands and Titles Court Bill 2020 and the Judicature Bill 2020.
Held at the Congregational Christian Church of Samoa (C.C.C.S.) at Saoluafata hall, Saoluafata was the last of the three villages to present their submissions before the Committee on Tuesday.
“This village has expressed our support for the changes behind the three bills. From the beginning, this village has always been supportive of the government and the changes they have made over the years,” said Malaulau Popo Aiulu.
But the village was critical of an aspect of the legislation that would limit the amount of chiefly titles that can be distributed within families.
The committee has been established to solicit public opinion on the bills, which are currently at the second reading process of the parliamentary process.
Malaulau said the village had always supported the Land and Titles Court (L.T.C.). The court would be made autonomous if the bills are passed by the Parliament.
“Also regarding the Land and Titles Court, we have always been supportive of this court. We have the utmost respect for our Land and Titles Court. And we can not depart from it,” Malaulau said.
“As you know, the people who have been chosen and selected to look after and monitor our L.T.C. were chosen by God and they have the experience and knowledge, therefore we give them our support and respect.
“We had a long session because we wanted to thoroughly understand the proposed changes in its entirety. We had questions because there were some things that we needed to understand.
The village's meeting with the Committee took longer than they expected, said Malaulau, but only because they wanted to have a fair understanding of the changes proposed by the three bills.
The village also advised the Committee to revoke the change which proposes the restrictions in the number of matai sa'o a family should have.
“For example, the restrictions on the number of matai sa'o (paramount chiefs) a family can have. Just like the many stories and parables of the Bible, God always chooses our leaders and people to lead families,” Malaulau said.
“We also believe that that's the way it should be. It should be up to the families. We understand that part of the reasons why they proposed such change is because of the conflicts or frictions that happen within families. But that's why we have the Land and Titles Court, to help resolve these issues.
But Malaulau said they had also asked for the committee to acknowledge the country’s lawyers and treat them with respect, including the Samoa Law Society and their submissions.
"They are sons and daughters of Samoa,” he said.
"Whenever they will meet again for their submission, the Committee should treat them nicely and hear out what they have to say."
Lastly, Malaulau hailed the work the Committee has done by collecting views from the villages to "construct better legislation."
"Other villages raised concern that there was not enough time and that it is too late for these consultations to happen,” he said.
"But in my opinion, we should appreciate that the Committee is now seeking views from the public and the villages to improve or to construct better legislation.
"So there is no need to say that it is too late. At least they are not gathering the thoughts of our people regarding the changes before they compile a report to present to Parliament."
Consultation continues this week in Upolu.