Full agenda for Parliament's end-of-year sitting

The tabling of four new bills will be part of what is expected to be a packed legislative agenda when Parliament convenes for the final time this year on Tuesday. 

In a public statement from the Office of the Legislative Assembly, the Members of Parliament will be previewing bills in a pre-sitting programme next Monday.

The first bill to be discussed is the Accident Compensation Amendment Bill 2020, introduced by Chief Executive Officer (C.E.O.) of Accident Compensation Corporation (A.C.C.), Muliagatele Makerita Matafeo.

The Tobacco Control Amendment Bill 2020 introduced by Leausa Dr. Take Naseri, Director General of the Ministry of Health.

Finally, two bills will be introduced by the Ministry of Women, Community and Social Development C.E.O., Afamasaga Faauiga Mulitalo.

The two bills are Internal Affairs Amendment Bill 2020 and the Ministry of Women's Affairs Amendment Bill 2020.

A supplementary budget will also be tackled by lawmakers.

Many are anticipating the last Parliamentary sitting of the year will also be an opportunity for the Government to revive the discussion of a package of three bills designed to overhaul the nation’s court system and amend the constitution. 

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi confirmed the report by a Special Parliamentary Committee tasked with soliciting public views on three bills proposing a complete overhaul of the Judiciary will be on the agenda.

The three bills in question - Lands and Titles Bill 2020, Judicature Bill 2020, and Constitutional Amendment Bill 2020 - have been the subject of debate about their role in reshaping the role of the court system. 

Together the bills would make the Land and Titles Court (L.T.C.) entirely autonomous and its decisions beyond the scope of judicial review by the Supreme Court. 

Tuilaepa confirmed the agenda on Wednesday during his weekly media programme with TV3.

Tuilaepa said the L.T.C. bills would be discussed given that public consultations on the bills have finished. 

A Special Parliamentary Committee, sought out public opinion on the contentious changes in villages throughout Samoa earlier this year. 

Parliament accounting for the committee’s findings is a precondition to the bills passing into law. They are currently at the second reading stage of the lawmaking process. 

“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.

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 independent.  

The Samoa Law Society has been leading 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 concerns about the impact of the proposed law on the rule of law and human rights in Samoa.

The bills have also drawn criticism from international bodies.

The United Nations’ Human Rights Commission’s Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, Diego García-Sayán, wrote an open letter to the Government in May expressing profound concerns about the bills’ potential impact on Samoan democracy.

Advocates of the changes, including the Prime Minister, argue they will redress an imbalance in the nation’s constitution which had given preference to individual rights and underplayed the rights of villages. 

The public will also be awaiting the decision of the Supreme Court, whether former Members of Parliament, Olo Fiti Vaai and Faumuina Wayne Fong will be reinstated in their seats when Parliament convenes on Tuesday next week. 

The two independent M.P.s had their seats declared vacant by the Speaker of Parliament, Leaupepe Toleafoa Faafisi.

Leaupepe found the M.P.s had violated standing orders against party-switching after announcing their intention to contest the April general election for the Fa'atuatua I le Atua Samoa ua Tasi (F.A.S.T.) opposition party. 

A panel made up of the Acting Chief Justice, Her Honour Niava Mata Tuatagaloa, Justice Leiataualesa Daryl Clarke and Justice Tologata Leilani Tuala-Warren, have been asked to determine whether the decision was legal.

The panel is slated to deliver its findings on the former M.P.s’ claim that the Speaker’s decision was not grounded in law and a breach of the constitution. 

Parliament will sit for the final time in January before the April general election. 

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