L.T.C. bills on Parliament agenda, P.M. confirms

A report by a Special Parliamentary Committee tasked with soliciting public views on three bills proposing a complete overhaul of the Judiciary, posing a threat to the rule of law in Samoa, will be on the agenda when Parliament convenes on Tuesday next week.

A supplementary Budget will also be tabled when Members of Parliament meet in what would be the last sitting of the year

Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Dr. Sa'ilele Malielegaoi, confirmed the agenda on Wednesday during his weekly media programme.

Tuilaepa said the L.T.C. bills would be discussed given that the public consultations have finished. He said Parliament will also consider recommendations by the Special Parliament Committee, following their work in the villages earlier this year. 

“The submissions by the public were discussed thoroughly by the Committee and they will make their submissions based on that next week Tuesday,” Tuilaepa said.

The L.T.C. Bills include the Lands and Titles Bill 2020, the Judicature Bill 2020 and the Constitutional Amendment Bill 2020. If the suit of legislation is passed by the Parliament, it would create an entirely independent L.T.C. whose decisions would not be subject to review by the Supreme Court. 

The Samoa Law Society (S.L.S.) has led a chorus of opposition to the L.T.C. Bills, after it was revealed that nine Justices of the Supreme Court had written to the Samoa Law Reform Commission in early April, to express grave concerns at the impact of the proposed law on the rule of law and human rights in Samoa.

Former judges, legal experts, international jurisprudence organisations as well as the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers have also come out expressing concern.

Opposition to the L.T.C. Bills also led to the resignation of the former Deputy Prime Minister and M.P. for Lotofaga, Fiame Naomi Mata'afa, from the Cabinet and the Human Rights Protection Party to become an Independent Member. 

The M.P. for Lotofaga has in recent weeks been travelling around the country to explain the complexities of the legislation and what she views as its negative impact on the country and its people.

The former Deputy Prime Minister has described the bills as being poorly prepared and likely to cause conflict among the people of Samoa and within the judiciary. 

Last Friday, leader of Samoa’s newest and biggest opposition party, Fa'atuatua I le Atua Samoa Ua Tasi (F.A.S.T.), La’auli Leuatea Schmidt, told the Samoa Observer he had requested a meeting with the Speaker of the House, Leaupepe Toleafoa Fa’afisi, to discuss the bills and the process to invoke when passing them into law if amendments are recommended. 

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