Reinstate the Lands and Titles Court President – Parliamentary Committee recommends

Samoa parliament. Picture: SAMOA OBSERVER

APIA, 30 JUNE 2019 (TALAMUA ONLINE) – Samoa Parliamentary Special Inquiry Committee has recommended to reinstate the suspended President of the Lands and Titles Court, Fepuleai Lētufuga Atilla Ropati.

The Committee’s report tabled in Parliament Thursday, said after considering oral and written submissions, the committee has concluded to recommend to Parliament, not to remove Fepuleai from the position of President of the Lands and Titles Court.

The Report further recommends Parliament’s decision through a conscious vote Under section 68(5) of the Constitution, which means it will not be a vote along party lines.

However outside of Parliament, MP for Sālega East, Olo Fiti Afoa said the move to have Parliament make the decision is unconstitutional.

He said Section 68(5) of the Constitution the Committee cites, refers specifically to the removal of a Supreme Court Judge, based on misconduct or misbehaviour.

Olo said Section 68(5) of the Constitution does not say anything that the Parliament has the power to reinstate someone who is charged and convicted by court.

“My concern is that the Parliament move would be unconstitutional.”

Olo accused the Prime Minister of breaching the Constitution and the checks and balances and independence of the three arms of Government.

“This is a perfect example of Parliament having no respect of the Judiciary,” said Olo Fiti. “I’m concerned of what other countries may think of us.”

The Committee’s Report is scheduled to be debated next Tuesday.

But MP Olo Fiti will not be present as he is now in for New Zealand to attend his daughter’s wedding. But he advises Parliament to protect the integrity of Samoa’s Courts.

Fepuleai was suspended when charged for assaulting a night watchman on the head with an empty beer bottle, during the Ministry’s end of year function in 2017.

He was later found guilty by the District Court but without conviction.

The Attorney Generals’ Office appealed that decision and the Court of Appeal convicted Fepuleai of assault earlier this year. He was reported to have resigned but later changed his mind. The matter was later transferred to Parliament to investigate and decide.

It will be the very first of such a case in Samoa.

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