Apia Samoa. The President of Samoa’s Lands and Titles Court, afioga Fepuleai Atila Ropati has been told that his tenure would end next Tuesday 1 November 2022.
According to sources inside the Ministry of Justice and Courts and Administration (MJCA) the President has been told that the Head of State has now signed off on the Lands and Titles Court Act 2020, and in that Law, the position of LTC President is revoked.
“He has received a letter from the Prime Minister advising that his position has been revoked..
“He should vacate the offices by 01 November 2022 to make room for the new President.”
According to sources afioga Lesatele Rapi Vaai has been appointed to take over as President of the Lands and Titles Court.
“The President wrote back requesting the matter be taken to Court for clarification of the Law..
“But the Prime Minister wrote back last Thursday to say the Law is clear.”
“O loo manino le tulafono e lē o terminate pe fire ae o le revoke.”
The 2020 Amendment Bills to the Constitution and the Lands and Titles Court Act have been in limbo this past year, as to which version was passed into Law in 2020.
In December 2021 the Attorney General discovered that different versions of the Acts existed.
A Committee of Parliament were tasked to launch an internal investigation and in February 2022 the Speaker announced that four versions existed according to findings. It was never clarified what exactly the differences were between versions.
Last month the Legislative Assembly agreed on the final versions to be given to the Head of State, for signing into Law.
The 2019 Constitution of Samoa is still the only version currently published on the Legislative Assembly website.
When contacted for a comment the Minister of Justice and Courts Administration, Hon Matamua Vasati Pulufana said the Prime Minister will be calling a press conference to clarify the matter.
The Lands and Titles Court of Samoa plays a crucial role in the protection of the families and their measina of lands and cheifly titles.
Rights as to titles and customary lands are battled out in the Lands and Titles Court of Samoa between matai and suli (those in the family lineage) in Samoa as well as those living overseas.
It is not uncommon for diaspora to travel back from overseas to attend court cases.