Court Upholds Original Proclamation of Head of State to Convene Parliament

Chief Justice Satiu Simativa Perese at his swearing in, June 2020. 📷 Maina Vai, SGN.

Samoa’s XVIIth Parliament will convene on Monday morning as originally planned.

The Court has issued orders to uphold the original proclamation dated 20th May 2021 by the Head of State of Samoa to convene the country’s XVIIth Parliament following the April 9th General Elections.

The Orders of the Court, issued around 1pm on Sunday afternoon were signed and issued by the Chief Justice together with Justice Tafaoimalo Tologata Leilani Tuala-Warren and Justice Vui Clarence Nelson.

CJ Satiu Simativa Perese, Justice Tafaoimalo Leilani Tuala-Warren and Justice Vui Clarence Nelson.

Court Orders declare the original Proclamation of the Head of State as lawful while stating that any subsequent or conflicting declarations are not aligned with the Constitution, and go against recent judgements of the Court.

Speaking to the media outside Court, former Attorney General Taulapapa Brenda Heather-Latu confirmed the challenge was filed by Latu Lawyers on behalf FAST, against the late night proclamation by the Head of State to suspend the opening of Parliament.

“The Court has issued an interim declaration saying that it is unlawful. And also a permanent declaration saying that the original order from the 20th of May continues to be valid and is lawful,” said Taulapapa

Asked if the nation could expect another move to sabotage Parliament convening in the next 12 hours, Taulapapa said her clients, the FAST party, stand prepared for anything else that might come up.

“We don’t know.. but our clients are prepared to deal with whatever comes up as it comes up, and relying on God’s grace to get us through this, because that is what has allowed us to respond to the things we have had to face in the past six weeks,” said Taulapapa.

The Supreme Court issued a statement published in verbatim below, adding further clarification of the special in Chambers sitting held 11am Sunday morning.

Supreme Court Statement following Sunday’s Special Sitting. Issued 4:22pm Sun 23 May 2021:

The Supreme Court took the unusual step of sitting in Chambers this morning to hear an Application from the Applicants FAST & Ors v Attorney General & Electoral Commissioner, made on a without notice basis, seeking Orders that the Court’s decision delivered on 17 May 2021 be certified according to its terms; and further application for an Order that the Proclamation dated 22 May 2021 which purports to countermand an earlier Proclamation dated 20 May 2021 calling for the convening of Parliament on 24 May 2021 be adjudged to be unlawful.

The Court directed that although the Applications were made on a without notice basis, the applications were, notwithstanding that today is a Sunday, were served on the Attorney General who has in the past appeared for the Head of State and Electoral Commissioner.

The matter was called this morning before the Court, the Attorney General  rose to her feet and advised the Court that she had not been properly served with the Applicant’s applications, could not be served on a Sunday and that she had not read any of the documents. The Attorney General advised the Court that she had no instructions and was not appearing on behalf of any party. She took her leave.

Mrs Heather-Latu and Mr Latu spoke to their Application and the Court is satisfied that the terms of the 17 May 2021 judgment can be certified and should be certified by the Registrar. Further the Court has made an order on an interim basis that any purported revocation of the Head of State’s Proclamation dated 20 May 2021 summoning Parliament, is inconsistent with this Court’s declaration ( judgment dated 17 May 2021 para 94(4))  and Article 52 of the Constitution, and is thereby unlawful and of no effect.

The Orders are to be served on the Clerk of the Legislative Assembly. The Registrar is directed to bring the Orders to the immediate attention of the Head of State and the Attorney General.

Sina Retzlaff