Supreme Court Overturns Parliament Suspension of Two MPs

The court also ruled that Tuilaepa and Lealailepule are entitled to be paid their remuneration and allowances that were withheld on account of the terms of the suspensions.

0
183

3 July 2023 Apia Samoa. From the files of FaaSamoa.  A decision by Samoa’s Parliament to suspend two MPs for a period of 24 months was yesterday declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court of Samoa.

The two MPs – HRPP Leader Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi and Party Secretary, Lealailepule Rimoni Aiaifi were suspended 8 months ago in October 2022 for a period of two years without pay.

The two year suspension was a recommendation by a Special Committee of Parliament who had been tasked with investigating Contempt of Parliament claims against Tuilaepa and Lealailepule after they had been found guilty of Contempt of Court. The claim was filed by Deputy Prime Minister Hon Tuala Tevaga Ponifasio.

The Supreme Court found Tuilaepa and Lealailepule guilty of denigrating the Court and its judges when they lashed out on social media during Samoa’s political crisis which lasted between 9 April – 23 July 2021. However the Court imposed no penalty and gave great significance to what was referred to as a Harmony Agreement signed by the leaders of FAST and HRPP.

This week the decision by Chief Justice Satiu Simativa Perese and Justice Leiataualesa Daryl Clarke, declared the suspensions void.

The Court found the two year suspension to be “in breach of article 44(1) of the Constitution and the framework of Samoa’s Constitution of responsible and representative government.”

The court also ruled that Tuilaepa and Lealailepule are entitled to be paid their remuneration and allowances that were withheld on account of the terms of the suspensions.

The MPs are also to file for costs within 14 days and the Respondents to respond within a further 14 days.

The Court decision comes after 256 days since Tuilaepa and Lealailepule were suspended on 18 October 2022 after Parliament voted 29-19 in support of the Privileges and Ethics Committee’s report that found the pair in Contempt of Parliament.

Court Decision Conclusions