Attorney-General’s office attacks Chief Justice as Samoan political crisis deepens

Samoa's Chief Justice Satiu Simativa Perese - locked door
Samoa's Chief Justice Satiu Simativa Perese attempting to open the locked front door of Parliament last May. Image: Samoa Global News

By Barbara Dreaver, TVNZ One News Pacific correspondent

Samoa’s deepening political crisis has taken yet another turn today after the Attorney-General’s office launched an astounding attack on the country’s judiciary.

The Supreme Court hearing over whether the swearing in of the FAST party outside Parliament was legitimate has been adjourned to next week after the Attorney-General’s office called for the withdrawal of all local judges, citing potential conflicts of interest.

In a media statement, the Attorney-General’s office said the actions of the judiciary was “concerning” after the Chief Justice had tried to open the locked doors of Parliament on Monday.

Hearing adjourned in Samoa over whether FAST Party’s ad hoc swearing in was constitutional. Video: TVNZ News

This came after the Supreme Court had ruled Parliament must sit on Monday but that was ignored by the Speaker of Parliament and incumbent Prime Minister Tuila’epa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi who ordered Parliament closed.

The Attorney-General’s office alleged Chief Justice Satiu Simativa Perese may be in contempt of Parliament and “as the Chief Justice, the caretaker Speaker and staff are not subject to court jurisdiction as per the law”.

Another case which was to be heard by the Court of Appeal over the extra creation of a seat to meet the minimum 10 percent requirement of women in Parliament is also on hold until next week.

Again the Attorney-General’s office said local judges had a “potential conflict of interest and potential favouritism” as all four cases between the FAST party and HRPP had been ruled against HRPP.

In court today, the Chief Justice asked on what authority the Attorney-General’s office had to dictate the work of the judiciary.

He said the Supreme Court would rule next week over whether there was any merit to the recusal or withdrawal of judges.

Republished with the author’s permission.

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