Former A.G. calls for salary parity

The former Attorney General, Lemalu Hermann Retzlaff, has called on the Samoa Government to “address” an imbalance where inhouse lawyers are paid significantly more than those in the Attorney General’s office. 

The appeal is highlighted in the A.G.’s Office’s annual report for the 2018-2019 Financial Year.

This was Lemalu’s last term in office prior to his resignation in February this year.

“The office continues to balance and contend with the phenomena of employing lawyers at the junior level, who are then tempted, after three to four years of working this office, to high paid inhouse positions," Lemalu wrote.

“I am grateful therefore, to the years of service, an average of eight to 14, that the Heads of five divisions offer to the office. 

"Their continued hard work and leadership is a backbone to the office. 

“The imbalance and unfairness to the [Office] here, lies in the fact that the alternative work in the other positions carry higher salaries, while the workload itself as described remains the legal responsibility of this office. We hope that will be addressed in some formal way in the future."

He noted the Office is tasked with the protection and preservation of the Constitution of Samoa. 

“It has undergone several amendments of late. This office will and should always carry with the Lord’s help the tasks of fulfilling its instructions and directives from the Government, and standing firm when required, on issues of upholding the goals of the constitution," he said.

"Those [issues include] the preservation of the separation of power; the protection of the fundamental freedoms of our citizens and maintaining the Christian and cultural spirit of the foundational statute of Samoa.” 

Current Attorney General, Savalenoa Mareva Betham-Annandale, in an earlier interview with the Samoa Observer said many of the in-house counsels are “well paid” at the Assistant Chief Executive Officer (A.C.E.O.) level, compared to prosecutors who start at the lower end of the salary spectrum with a few at the top.

“So it is good to utilise the $80,000 [salary] to do their work before it comes into my office and I speak from my experience,” she said. 

“I intend to adopt the same process to use the lawyers that are out there to assist this office so [the A.G.’s office] does not have to do everything on their own, due to the numerous [pending] cases and not enough lawyers [at the A.G.’s office]."

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