Amendments to Samoa’s Constitution a Shambles – Speaker to Table Report in Parliament

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Wednesday 19 January 2021, Apia Samoa. The Speaker of Samoa’s Parliament says he has received a report outlining findings of an internal investigation into how different versions of Law have emerged following the 2020 passing of amendments to Samoa’s Constitution and the Samoa’s Lands and Titles Act.

Hon Papalii Lio Taeu Masipau made the announcement before Parliamentary proceedings of the first sitting of Parliament yesterday morning.

Speaker of the House Papalii Lio Oloipola Taeu Masipau, 18 Jan 2021, Apia Samoa.

“Parliament must be informed of the seriousness of the matter that has arisen in relation to the process of amendments that were made to the Constitution as well as the Lands and Titles Act,” stated the Speaker.

“I am now in possession of the report following an investigation, and have decided that this should be tabled in Parliament as a matter of urgency,” he said.

According to the Speaker, the Office of the Clerk of the Legislative Assembly (OCLA) only became aware of the issue when it was raised by Attorney General Su’a Hellene Wallwork-Lamb in December last year.

The report is expected to be tabled in Parliament as soon as as the Supplementary Budget is passed this week. The Speaker has forbidden any discussions from the floor on the issues, until the report is tabled.

In introducing the issue in Parliament, Hon Papalii Taeu said the investigation has confirmed that different versions of the Law are floating around Samoa.

“The truth is, there was a mix-up between copies in Parliament and those given to the Head of State,” said Papalii.

“It has also been confirmed that (hard copy) versions of the Acts being sold to the public, are different from versions uploaded to the Legislative Assembly’s website..”

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Adding to the complete state of shambles and confusion – the Speaker further adds that the Office of the Attorney General has been using yet another version of the Acts.

O le mea moni ua fesētai kopi na faatino ai lea gaioiga, ma kopi moni o ia Tulafono na tuuina iai le maliega a le Ao o le Malo..

Ua faamaonia foi le eseese o kopi o Tulafono o loo faatau atu i le atunuu, ma le kopi o loo i luga o upega tafailagi a le Palemene, faapea le kopi o loo faaogaina e le Ofisa o le Loia Sili”.

In what he described as a first ever for Samoa, the Speaker of the House said his main concern were impacts the mix-up would inevitably bring to the work of the Judiciary, in particular LTC Judges presiding over an ongoing influx of public petitions relating to customary lands and titles.

“There is now a state of confusion amongst the public as to which is the right version of the Law..”

“Ua mautinoa foi se tulaga lē mautonu i le atunuu poo fea le lomiga sa’o o ia Tulafono..”

Without clarifying exactly who is responsible for the historical mix-up, the Speaker then states that the issue is central to the Legislative Assembly, and that it would also be the responsibility of Parliament to correct the confusion, in order for the Courts to effectively function and carry out their duties.

“O se mataupu ma se faafitauli e patino lava i le Palemene lona toe poupouina. Na o le Palemene foi na te mafai ona ia faamautu ma faatulaga mo le safatonu ai o le faatautaiga o le pitolaau a le Faamasinoga”.

Amendments to Samoa’s Constitution were tabled together with amendments to its Lands and Titles Act and its Judicature Act in what had became known as the “three controversial Bills” that saw a restructure of Samoa’s Courts, changes to how the Judiciary is administered, as well as changes that legislated parts of Samoa’s centuries-old matai system.

More than 100 amendments were made across the three pieces of legislation, passed by a 41-4 majority of the Legislative Assembly in December 2020. The Minister of Justice at the time had said over 80% of Samoa agreed with the amendments.

The Bills had been strongly opposed by Samoa’s Law Society who stated from the outset that the Bills were “technically defective and unsuitable to be formally distributed, let alone tabled in Parliament”.

Samoa’s Judiciary were the first to raise concerns in a cautionary letter to Samoa’s Law Reform Commissioner, criticising the lack of consultation in the process. This followed nation-wide consultations, then led by a Parliamentary Select Committe, tasked to hear public submissions. Several amendments were promised to be made to the original versions of the Bills when they were eventually tabled in Parliament.

Clarification of certain controversial matters pertaining to Samoa’s matai system such as the removal and bestowal of matai sa’o were made public in press releases by the Attorney General following the passing of the Bills into Law.

However the question is, which version of the Law applies today?

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Speakers Special Announcement in Parliament 

“E ao ona ou faamanino mo le silafia o lenei Maota le faafitauli ogaoga ua tulai mai i le tuufaatasia o tulafono e pasia e le Fono Aoao Faitulafono mo le tuuina iai o le maliega a le Ao o le Malo..

“O lenei faafitauli na molimauina i le faagasologa o le faaofiina o o nisi o teuteuga o le tulafono – Teuteuga o le Faavae 2020 ma le Tulafono o Fanua ma Suafa 2020 e lo tatou Ofisa i le masina o Ianuari 2021..

“E tusa ma suesuega na faatinoina, faatoa māua lea faaletonu ina ua faailoa mai e le Loia Sili se eseesega o aiaiga..

“Ua taoto aiaiga mo le faasologa o le galuega, peitai, o le faasologa sa faataunuuina ai, ua le tusa lea ma ala o le Tulafono..

“O le mea moni ua fesētai kopi na faatino ai lea gaioiga, ma kopi moni o ia Tulafono na tuuina iai le maliega a le Ao o le Malo..

“Ua faamaonia foi le eseese o kopi o Tulafono o loo faatau atu i le atunuu, ma le kopi o loo i luga o upega tafailagi a le Palemene, faapea le kopi o loo faaogaina e le Ofisa o le Loia Sili..

“O le popolega o le Nofoa, ona e ono afaina ai le faatautaiga, a le galuega a le Faamasinoga.. ae faapea foi le nofo silafia a le atunuu lautele o le taatiaga sao o a tatou Tulafono. Ua mautinoa foi se tulaga lē mautonu a le atunuu poo fea le lomiga sa’o o ia Tulafono..

“O le masina o Tesema 2021, na faatoa oo mai ai lenei mataupu i le Ofisa o le Fofoga Fetalai, ma taumafai ai loa e saili poo fea o loo taoto ai le sa’o ma le tonu o le faafitauli; ma faatonuina ai loa le Failautusi ina ia faatino se suesuega mo le faamaninoina o le afuaga o lenei faafitauli..

“Ua maea ona faatino le suesuega e le Ofisa o le Failautusi o le Fono Aoao Faitulafono, ma ua ou taulimaina foi le ripoti..

“E iai le talitonuga a le Nofoa, e lē tatau ona taatia umi, pe taoto ai faaleiloga lenei faafitauli – ona o mataupu e fesootai ma mataupu e iai le talitonuga, o loo tagofia e le Faamasinoga. E le gata i lea, ae o mataupu faale Faamasinoga a le atunuu lautele o loo feagai ma i latou i le taimi nei..

“O se mataupu ma se faafitauli e patino lava i le Palemene lona toe poupouina. Na o le Palemene foi na te mafai ona ia faamautu ma faatulaga mo le sagatonu ai o le faatautaiga o le pitolaau a le Faamasinoga, mo le amiotonu ma le faamaoni o faaiuga o mataupu a le atunuu o loo faatoai atu i le Faamasinoga.

“E talu ai ona o aiaiga o le faagasologa o le tatou galuega, e le mafai ona tatou sopoloa i aiaiga o tatou Tulafono Tumau, ae ua ou vave faailoa, ona o se mataupu e ao ona faamanino i le faafofoga tapuai mai a le atunuu..

“O le taimi muamua lea ua tulai mai ai se faaletonu faapea, ma ua faia le faaiuga a le Nofoa e tusa ma faiga masani; ma ua tatau ona faataatia le lipoti o lea suesuega mo le silafia e le Maota..

“E tusa ai ma Tulafono Tumau 139, e ao ona faamuamua le Tulafono Taufaaofi o le fefaatauina o Tupe, i lo nisi lava galuega a le Maota se ia vagana ua maea. Tatou te usitaia lava a tatou Tulafono Tumau..

“Pe a maea ona tatou tagofia le Tala Faopopo o le Tupe o le a lauliliuina, ona faatulaga loa lea o lenei galuega mo galuega o le aso, mo le amataga o le isi aso fono e sosoo ai..

“E le talia foi e le Nofoa ona afea se saunoaga i lenei mataupu. O le a ou toe faapea atu, e le talia e le Nofoa se saunoaga i lenei mataupu. Ae o le a maua i luma ni avanoa mo se saunoaga pe a faagasolo le tatou galuega.”


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