Court advocates for an independent H.O.S. office

The Supreme Court has recommended that the Office of the Head of State have access to publicly funded and independent staff including legal advisors to address the burden on the office. 

The call by the Court was part of its 28-page judgement which it handed down on Monday this week when it delivered its decision to void a writ from the Head of State to call for fresh elections and subsequently revoke April’s polling day results. 

Chaired by Chief Justice, His Honour Satiu Simativa Perese alongside Justice Vui Clarence Nelson and Justice Tafaoimalo Leilani Tuala-Warren they noted the importance of extra support staff for His Highness. 

“Finally, we note that, arising from this constitutional issue, it may be timely for the office of the Head of State to have access to publicly funded but independent staff and resources, including legal advisors,” said Chief Justice Perese. 

“In the 21st Century the burden of the Office has greatly increased. 

“Much of the work of the office is concerned with implementing the Government of the days advice, and in that regard it is appropriate for the Head of State to receive advice from the Attorney General, Article 41(2)…” 

However, the Court emphasised “we consider that it would be prudent for the Head of State to have available extra support staff particularly when the need arises”.

His Highness, Tuimalealiifano Sualauvi Vaaletoa II made a proclamation on 4 May when addressing the nation. 

He said that he had been observing with particular care, interest and concern the events that followed after the 9 April general election. 

Tuimalealiifano considered a hung parliament, the time consuming of electoral petitions, operation of Government and budget that needed to be in place by June. 

He was assured that as the Head of State, he was capable of calling fresh elections in circumstances where there is no clear majority capable of forming a Government and where it was in the public interest. 

The leaders of the main parties were also consulted before he announced the fresh elections. 

In the judgment handed down by the Justices of the Supreme Court they noted that nothing in their ruling should be construed as being critical of the Head of State. 

The members of the Court made it plain that they do not consider that the Head of State acted in anything other than what he believes to be the best outcome for his beloved Samoa. 

“Rather this judgment is concerned with the correctness of the advice upon which the Head of State relied “which advice we say at the outset was inadequate,” the panel of Justices ruled. 

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