Tuesday, June 15, 2021
Times of Georgia
HomeWorldProtecting The Integrity And Independence Of Samoa’s Judiciary

Protecting The Integrity And Independence Of Samoa’s Judiciary


As Samoa navigates through the political and
constitutional challenges following the recent election, the
New Zealand Law Society | Te Kāhui Ture o Aotearoa stands
in support of the Samoan judiciary and lawyers in drawing
attention to the importance of judicial independence as one
of the most important elements of the rule of law.

The
Law Society is concerned about recent attacks on the Samoan
judiciary. It acknowledges that Samoa is an independent
sovereign country with its own legal system, customs and
fa’a Samoa, but in any democracy the avenue for
challenging and testing decisions by the courts is via the
appeals process.

“The Law Society believes that the
proper place to resolve these legal and constitutional
issues is through the normal judicial process, including
appeal. Those processes are now underway, and the outcomes
must be respected,” says Law Society President Tiana
Epati.

“Following the recent Court of Appeal decision,
it is timely to reflect on the rule of law and to remember
that all parties must abide by the decisions of the courts.
They should not undermine or attack the legitimacy of judges
who are fulfilling their judicial oaths through the exercise
of their independent and impartial judgment.”

New
Zealand has a long and close legal association with Samoa.
Many of its lawyers have been educated here, and we share a
similar legal heritage. We are both parliamentary
democracies based on the Westminster system. Shared
fundamental principles embedded in both legal systems are of
vital importance to the preservation of freedom and good
government.

“Judicial independence is a core value of
the international community, and Samoa has committed to this
as a party to the International Covenant on Civil and
Political Rights. Trust in the independence of the courts
and respect for the rule of law are critical to democratic
government. This means that all parties are accountable to
the law and subject to the decisions of the courts. When
this is undermined, lawyers have a duty to speak out,” says
Ms Epati.

“It is important to remember at this time
that lawyers are bound by the oath we swear on admission to
the profession to uphold the rule of law and to facilitate
the administration of justice. While these are fundamental
obligations imposed by statute in New Zealand, they are also
obligations that apply equally to lawyers in
Samoa.”

The Law Society has shared its concerns with
New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and
Trade.

© Scoop Media

 



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