Former Chief Justice's achievements highlighted
Major milestones highlighted in the Ministry of Justice and Courts Administration’s annual report intertwined with the tenure of Patu Tiavasué F. M. Sapolu as the Chief Justice.
The report was submitted to the Parliament by the Minister Fa’aolesa Katopau Ainu’u and was tabled last week.
“Chief Justice Sapolu bid farewell to the Judiciary after 27 years serving as the longest serving Chief Justice of Samoa in April 2019,” says M.J.C.A. Chief Executive Officer, Moliei Simi Vaai, said in the annual report.
“A journey he had credited on his reliance and faith in God. His devotion and commitment to maintain justice and lead the Judiciary of Samoa is abundant and immeasurable.”
The annual report for the Financial Year 2018-2019 outlined the Ministry’s achievements when Patu was at the helm of the Judiciary.
This included the introduction of new specialised and therapeutic courts in Samoa, such as the Alcohol and Drugs Court in 2016, the introduction of the Family Violence Court in 2013 and Youth Court in 2007.
The C.E.O. added that in 2010 the court precinct at Mulinuu – which houses all levels of the courts – was officially opened.
“This was the first time all personnel providing administration and support service to the Judiciary, all judges and courtrooms were housed in one building.”
The appointment of 10 female judges to the judiciary in Samoa, a first in the history of the country, was also highlighted.
“The appointment of the first President of the Land and Titles Court that is not the Chief Justice; the introduction of mediation as a new form of alternative dispute resolution for civil cases; and amending the law to extend the retirement age for judges from 62 to 68; and successfully hosted two Pacific Judicial Conferences in Samoa.”
Prior to his retirement, Patu called on his peers to continue to uphold the independence, impartiality and the integrity of the judiciary.
“Continue to uphold the independence and impartiality and the integrity of the judiciary. In any democracy the rule of law is essential and in order for the rule of law to function properly, you need an independent and impartial judiciary.
“If the judiciary is not independent and impartial then democracy is at risk because this is one of the pillars upon which democracy is built, you need a system of independent and impartial courts.”
Patu is contesting the 2021 General Election under the banner of the ruling Human Rights Protection Party.