Tautua calls for change in Government
The Tautua Samoa Party has renewed its call for a change in Government, following the passage of three bills overhauling the judicial system and amending of the constitution.
On Tuesday, Parliament passed into law the Land and Titles Bill, the Judicature Amendment Bill and the Constitution Amendment Bill, with only four dissenting votes and 41 in favour.
“It is indeed a sad day for Samoa,” said Tamaleta Taimang Jensen, the party’s candidate for Vaimauga No. 2 said.
“Despite [the] stern [warnings] against these bills, they were passed.
“What’s worse are the Members of Parliament that did not honor the request of their constituencies that were against the bills, instead they heeded the demand of their party, neglecting the voice of people that voted them into office in the first place.”
Together, the three bills fundamentally alter the structure of the country’s judicial system, by placing decisions of the Land and Titles Court (L.T.C.) beyond the scope of judicial review by the Supreme Court.
The ability of the executive or Prime Minister, to influence the makeup of the Supreme Court, is also significantly strengthened under the changes.
These aspects of the legislation have drawn significant criticism from jurists within Samoa and abroad, who have expressed concern for their potential impact on Samoan democracy.
Critics of the proposals have included the Judges of the nation’s civil and criminal courts; Samoa’s legal fraternity and the United Nations Human Rights Commission’s special rapporteur on the independence of lawyers and Judges.
The 60-year-old former National University of Samoa (N.U.S.) Economics Lecturer said that it was time for a new Government.
“It’s disappointing to see that despite opposition and concerns raised locally and internationally [that] the H.R.P.P. (Human Rights Protection Party) passed it anyway,” Tamaleta said.
“The Human Rights Protection Party has been in office for far too long, they are abusing the authority that comes with being in office that long.”
Tamaleta has run in past elections and will be up against the seat’s incumbent H.R.P.P. Associate Minister for the Ministry of Justice and Courts Administration, Lenatai Victor Tamapua. Other candidates including Patu Falefatu Sapolu and Tofaeono Iupati Fuatai.
He told the Samoa Observer on Thursday that he is appealing to ordinary Samoans to wield the power of their votes to effect a change in Government.
The candidate said that if the Tautua Party is elected into office, among its first priorities will be to repeal the bills passed on Tuesday.
The party's platform includes the statement that justice can be dispensed by two separate courts.
Tautua Samoa’s leader, Luagalau Dr. Afualo Salele, has previously used biblical analogy to explain the party’s opposition to the bills: the judiciary cannot serve two masters.
Although to ensure the abolishment of the three bills, Luagalau said:
“First things first we need to win elections and be able to lead the country.
“Our observation tells us that the Prime Minister had solidified their decision to pass these bills, which means all these works surrounding the bills are in vain.
“But should the country put their faith in us, we will stand to prepare proper parliamentary processes to stop and recall the law. Because we clearly have different views from the current Government.”
Afualo said in addition to overturning the legislation, the party would seek to address some 30 recommendations outlined in the Special Parliamentary Inquiry report into the laws.