Committee’s report on L.T.C. bills on Parliament's agenda

By Joyetter Feagaimaali'i 14 December 2020, 9:30PM

A Special Parliamentary Committee’s report on the public views of three bills proposing an overhaul of the Courts will be on the agenda when Parliament convenes on Tuesday.

The Chairperson of the Special Parliamentary Committee, Gatoloaifaana Amataga Alesana-Gidlow, confirmed plans to table the Committee report during an interview on Monday:

“That is the plan," she said. "To table the [report] before Parliament tomorrow (Tuesday), but we are still in meetings regarding this [report].” 

The Clerk of the Legislative Assembly, Tiatia Graeme Tualaulelei, said a supplementary budget will be discussed in Tuesday’s session of Parliament first. Only after that is completed will the Committee’s report be tabled and discussed in Parliament, the Clerk said.

“That’s all I can say to you,” he told the Samoa Observer.

The bills in question include the Lands and Titles Bill 2020, the Judicature Bill 2020 and the Constitutional Amendment Bill 2020. 

If the suite of legislation is passed by the Parliament, would amend the constitution and create an entirely independent Land and Titles Court, the decisions of which 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 bills. Nine Justices of the Supreme Court also wrote to the Samoa Law Reform Commission in early April, to express 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 ruling Human Rights Protection Party.

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. 

By Joyetter Feagaimaali'i 14 December 2020, 9:30PM

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