Friday, May 20, 2022

A WTF moment in Samoa

In a democracy, laws are made by elected politicians. But apparently not in Samoa, where a highly controversial law was changed unilaterally by an HRPP cabal after it had been passed and signed:

A parliamentary inquiry into anomalies discovered in constitutional amendments linked to the operations of the Land and Titles Court has recommended charges against those responsible.

A Special Inquiry Committee report highlighted those it claimed were behind the amendments, which resulted in changes being made to the Act of Parliament without due processes, who “appeared to have breached” Standing Orders and Revision and Publication Act 2008.

In one of the four main recommendations by the Committee, the report stated that the matter should be referred to the Office of the Attorney General, and the Ministry of Police to press relevant charges against those involved.

The report points the finger at the President of the Land and Titles Court and the former Attorney General, who each demanded changes after the law had been passed and signed, and the former Clerk of the Legislative Assembly, who had it recalled for changes. The changes - which had not been approved by parliament, and were well beyond mere typos - were made to a constitutional amendment, effectively bypassing the amendment process and supermajority requirement. And one of the results has been to completely bork the law, effectively disabling the Land and Titles Court (existing judges can only hear old cases, and new judges cannot be appointed).

(As for criminal charges, the obvious one is forgery: "mak[ing] a false document [in this case, one altered without authorisation - I/S], knowing it to be false, with the intent that it in any way be used or acted upon... as genuine". But proving that those responsible knew they were not authorised to make the changes, rather than being merely utterly arrogant or incompetent, might be tricky).

This is appalling, and it raises serious questions about the quality of governance and democracy in Samoa under the HRPP. But it also raises a more pressing question: how many other times has this happened? They're going to have to re-check everything now, just to make sure nothing else has been slipped through without legislative consent.