Justice Nelson elevated to senior judge
A new appointment in the Courts was officially recognised on Tuesday when Justice Vui Clarence Nelson took his oath as the senior justice of the Supreme Court.
Justice Nelson took his oath before the Head of State, his highness Tuimaleali’ifano Va’aletoa Sualauvi II at his residence in Vailele.
The closed door ceremony was witnessed by judges of the Supreme Court and District Court, Minister of Justice Courts and Administration, Matamua Vasati Pulufana as well as Justice Nelson’s close relatives.
The Chief Justice, his honour, Satiu Simativa Perese made the appointment under new Constitution clauses passed by the parliament last year in a package of amendments to restructure the judiciary.
Article 68 of the Constitution states while any vacancy exists in the office of the Chief Justice or during any absence from Samoa due to illness or any other reason, the Head of State, acting on the advice of the Prime Minister may authorise the senior judge of the Supreme Court to act and perform the functions of the Chief Justice until the Chief Justice resumes his duties.
From the villages of Lano Savaii and Vaoala the senior justice is thankful for his new calling.
He noted the role is crucial in assisting the Chief Justice in their judicial work and in his absence.
Justice Nelson has been a judge for over 20 years; 15 years as the supreme court judge and was previously a senior district court judge.
The senior justice said everyday is a challenge in their line of work where judges are obligated to uphold their judicial oath to uphold the Constitution without fear or favour, affection or ill will.
He added although many people are doubtful of their role but that is part of the job.
Justice Nelson is the most senior judge in the Supreme Court that sits alongside five other justices on the bench; two of which are female.
At the age of 65, he was the first Pacific islands judge appointed to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child.
In addition he has been instrumental in the creation of a sex offender’s registry that resulted in the establishment of a Sex Offenders Registration Act 2017.
He is an active supporter and mentor of the Samoa Victim Supports Group – the only shelter for children and women that are victims of sex offenders.
An advocate for childrens rights and protection of young victims of sexual violence, Justice Nelson was also a member of the South Pacific Council of Youth & Children Courts.
He was also involved in the creation and the setup of the Oloamanu Juvenile Facility, a minimum security facility specifically designed for the housing of juvenile offenders.
A former student of the St. Joseph College he was awarded a New Zealand Government scholarship to undertake further studies in New Zealand.
He was granted a Bachelor of Laws from the University of Canterbury, Christchurch New Zealand.
He is also a certified national and regional trainer for the Pacific Judicial Development Programme.
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