There must be something at the corridors of justice at Mulinu’u
There must be something at the corridors of justice in Samoa. Whatever it is, it seems to be a magnet to that structure called the Ministry of Justice and Courts Administration building, for unwanted publicity and attention.
Judging from the headlines and media coverage for the past few years, there has been an endless stream of stories; many of them raising questions about some of the activities there.
It all started some two years ago when a former Ministry of Justice and Courts Administration employee, Tualima Pio, spilled the beans about delivering Land and Titles Court files to the office of the Minister of Justice and Courts Administration, Fa’aolesa Katopau Ainu’u. He was accompanied by the secretary of former Chief Executive Officer, Papali’i John Taimalelagi, who of course is no longer there.
What unfolded after Pio’s revelations has been well detailed on the pages of this newspaper, including the Public Service Commission (P.S.C.) investigation, which led to the sacking of the former C.E.O.
We’re not going to delve back into that today. The fact is that was just the beginning of a string of controversial developments at Mulinu’u, a trend that has continued right up until today.
Indeed, while the saga about the Court files was raging, another eye-opening development popped up. This time, it was the President of the Land and Titles Court, Fepulea’i Atilla Ropati, whose behaviour during an end of year function, was called into question. There were court cases; appeals and even Parliament became involved.
As if that was not enough, then the reports about drugs on the premises and a gun presented as evidence for a Court hearing mysteriously disappeared.
Again, all these stories have been well detailed in the media. There is no need for us to go into further detail today.
What we do want to say is that these are not exactly the sorts of developments you would want to associate with the halls of justice in Samoa, or anywhere else for that matter.
Which begs the question, what is going on down there at Mulinu’u?
Now lets fast forward to today. On Monday this week, yet another eyebrow-raising development emerged in a story titled “Two Judges contracts terminated” published on the front page of the Samoa Observer.
The Judges in question are the Deputy President of the Land and Titles Court, Seveali’i Panapa Vee and Judge Nanai Pologa Ioane. A third Senior Judge, Lavea Siaosi Hazelman, was reinstated but only until the 23rd of December 2019.
We don’t know exactly what the three Judges had been accused of. We hope someone can shed some light on what exactly happened.
What we do know is that the L.T.C. Judges were initially suspended by the Acting Chief Justice and Chairman of the Judicial Service Commission (J.S.C.), His Honour Vui Clarence Nelson.
The Judges were then subjected to a Judicial Complaints Committee, which investigated the allegations against them. Chaired by the former Attorney General, Taulapapa Brenda-Heather Latu, the members included Reverend Utufua Naseri and Fata Meafou.
The Judicial Complaints Committee made the recommendation, endorsed by the J.S.C. Without being privy to the details of the allegations and what was found to be true by the Judicial Complaints Committee, which their recommendation was based on, it’s hard to draw a conclusion.
Whatever it is though, it must be pretty severe and serious for the Judicial Complaints Committee and the J.S.C. to be unanimous in their decision to sack two Judges, let alone someone as senior as the Vice President of the Land and Titles Court.
And now today, the story on the front page of the newspaper you are reading titled “P.M. writes to Judges about drinking alcohol in public” is quite revealing.
Take away the political innuendos and everything else and you will find that this is not a good look for the Judiciary in Samoa.
Which brings us back to the point we made at the start. If you have been following these developments at Mulinu’u closely, you would have to think that there is something in the air at Mulinu’u that doesn’t quite seem right.
We must be fair to say that the majority of officials walking the corridors of justice in Samoa every day are doing a fine job. They are putting their best foot forward to advance justice for all and to them we acknowledge them with gratitude.
But even they must be extremely alarmed about what has been unfolding during the recent past? What do you think?
Have a wonderful Sunday Samoa, God bless!