Cabinet to Consider Independent Budgets for Courts and Legislative Assembly

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A request from Samoa’s Chief Justice, Satiu Simativa Perese to have a independent and separate budget allocation for the Ministry of Justice and Courts Administration as a way to further cement its separation from the Executive as an independent pillar of Government, is now been considered by Cabinet.

In his opening remarks at the launching of Court Reporting  Guidelines for Samoa’s Media last Friday, Satiu touched on the importance of an independent legal system including the need to have a budget line for the Civil and Criminal Jurisdiction as well as a budget line for the Land and Titles Court.

The Lands and Titles Court side of Mulinu’u Courthouse.

“We have two independent legal systems. It may be that there should be two line items – a budget line for the Civil and Criminal Jurisdiction and a budget line for the Land and Titles Court,” Satiu said.

“The appropriateness of the funding of the two legal systems is vital to the independence of each from the other, and from the other branches of Government,” he added.

The Supreme Court side of the Mulinuu Courthouse.

Prime Minister Hon Fiame Naomi Mata’afa during her weekly press conference with the media confirmed that this matter has been discussed by Cabinet and the Legislative Assembly is also being considered for this approach.

Prime Minister Fiame agreed and said it is vital to show that these two arms of the government are independent and should also have their own budgets.

Prime Minister Hon Fiame Naomi Mataafa at weekly press conference.

Fiame said a decision would be made known as soon as Cabinet finalises its discussions and way forward.

The call was however attacked by the Leader of the Human Rights Protection Party and former Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi saying that it was unacceptable and not a solution for the independence of the Courts.

Tuilaepa said the independence of the Courts is not guaranteed through a change of budget approach.

Tuilaepa says such as approach would only invite risks to misuse of finds and resources.


Marieta H Ilalio