Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi tells NZ Law Society President “It’s none of your overseas presidential business”.
APIA, SAMOA – 06 MAY 2020: Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi has responded to the New Zealand Law Society President Tiana Epati’s “serious concerns” with the constitutional law reforms under review in Samoa.
“There is no place for the President of an overseas Law Society to use that organization’s name to try to lecture us or interfere with our country’s democratic processes,” Tuilaepa said in a statement.
He said Samoa’s Government is trying to create a Specialist Court of Appeal for its own cultural Lands and Titles to be legally acknowledged and preserved.
“It is a matter now at Select Committee for public consultation, and it is a matter for Samoa. In short, it is none of your overseas presidential business.
“All the best as you concentrate on the needs of all your society’s members, and we will concentrate on looking after our own country-Samoa.
“I hope you and your relative here in Samoa, the President of our Law Society remember that Samoa has been independent since 1962,” said Tuilaepa.
In a statement, yesterday, the President Tiana Epati said “senior judges in Samoa have expressed serious reservations about the constitutional changes, and the legislative process adopted.”
The Samoa Law Society’s President, Leiataualesa Komisi Koria, had already issued his own statement regarding the process and serious constitutional implications.
The Samoa Law Society had requested the assistance of their New Zealand counterparts.
The latter said it was more than willing to provide assistance and to speak out in support of the Samoan judiciary and legal community.
However it still acknowledged Samoa is an independent sovereign country with its own legal system, customs and fa’a Samoa.
“Whatever policy aims need to be achieved, it is hard to understand how such constitutional changes can be justified without the explicit support of a large majority of the people of Samoa obtained through proper consultation,” Ms Epati said.
“New Zealand and New Zealand lawyers have an interest in the integrity of the legal systems of our Pacific neighbours with whom we deal frequently.”
The society said New Zealand had a long and close legal association with Samoa with many of its lawyers educated in Aotearoa.