L.T.C. bills "likely" on Parliament's agenda

Three bills proposing to overhaul the Land and Titles Court will “most likely” be discussed in the next Parliament session, the Whip of the Human Rights Protection Party (H.R.P.P.), Alai'asa Moefa'auo Moananu said. 

The senior H.R.P.P. official told the Samoa Observer that the future consideration of the bills in this term of Parliament depended on a report prepared by a Special Parliamentary Committee tasked to seek public feedback on the proposed changes. 

“However that depends on the report prepared by the Special Parliamentary Committee, if it's submitted next, then most likely the bills will be deliberated in Parliament,” Alai'asa said. 

The bills in question are the Constitution Amendment Bill, Judicature Bill 2020 and the L.T.C. Bill 2020.  Together they would create an entirely autonomous Land and Titles Court (L.T.C.), the decisions of which would not be subject to review by the Supreme Court. 

“The Committee’s report has to be discussed in Parliament whether there are any recommendations by the Committee which is chaired by Member of Parliament, Gatoloaifa’ana Amataga Gidlow and then the bills will be discussed [on] 15 December, 2020,” the H.R.P.P. Whip said. 

“And from there we decide whether the bills will be passed or rejected, but I feel [with] two-thirds of [Parliament’s] members [being from the H.R.P.P.] most likely it will pass”. 

Other members of the Special Committee of Inquiry include: Namulau’ulu Sami Leota, Sulamanaia Tuivasa Tauiliili, Faaulusau Duffy Stowers, Fuimaono Te'o Samuelu, Leaana Ronnie Posini and Ili Setefano Ta’ateo. 

Alai’asa dismissed claims the bills were being “rushed” and said the Committee had been out in villages across Samoa to seek comments and concerns from members of the public. 

"The bills were not rushed. That is wrong, we have been discussing these bills for more than six months,” Alai'asa said. 

The bills prompted the resignation of the Former Deputy Prime Minister, Fiame Naomi Mata’afa. 

She resigned from the H.R.P.P. and Cabinet and became an independent Member of Parliament after speaking out when the Parliamentary committee visited her electorate. 

Fiame accused her old party of making a "political show" ahead of next year’s election by seeking to legislate on customs, traditions and the judiciary. 

Fiame said the three proposed bills that would radically restructure Samoa’s judiciary and that the proposed changes represented a “political show.”

“This whole trumpeting of custom and tradition it’s a bit concerning for me," she told Radio New Zealand soon after her resignation. 

"It’s a show thing with very little substance to support it. Perhaps there are elements of a political show for this time leading up to elections, that we are making important decisions about our customs and traditions and so forth. I think it is a bit of a dangerous game.”

Fiame said with the ruling H.R.P.P. occupying 44 seats out of  50-strong in the Parliament it had more or less “taken over” government and lawmaking. 

“You know of course how prominent the party is now, with full controls on the Executive side and very few checks there... Parliament is more or less taken over because of the majority of the party,” she said. 

R.N.Z.’s Dateline Pacific asked the former Deputy Prime Minister whether Tuilaepa’s Government is a dictatorship.

She instead stated that it had become accustomed to “absolute power” but did say it was “sliding away” from the rule of law. 

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