PSC question Deputy Registrar authority to sign seize/search warrants


The Public Service Commission is questioning the legal authority that allowed Deputy Clerk of the Ministry of Justice and Courts Administration Tofilau Shamilla Leavai to sign search and seize warrants.

The concerns raised by the PSC Chair, Lauano Vaosa Epa is in relation to a warrant signed by Tofilau for the Ministry of Police and Prisons to obtain a PSC investigation report that led to the termination of the former CEO of the Justice, Papali’i John Taimalelagi. This is in connection to a criminal libel complaint he filed against Loabay Media.

Papalii claims the media outlet defamed his character over sexual harassment claims, which Loabay insist led to Papalii’s termination as the Chief Executive Officer.

Lauano in her letter dated 14 of February, obtained by Radio Polynesia was pertaining to the first warrant the Police served on the PSC and explained why the Commission refused at first.

The two-page letter is addressed to Acting Police Commissioner Leiataua Samuelu Afamasaga.

Lauano stated the Criminal Procedure Act 2016 section 33 makes it a statutory requirement that only a Judge or Registrar of the Court may issue a search or seize warrant and or a restraining order.

At that time Chief Executive Officer, Moliei Simi Vaai was overseas.

Furthermore, the Chair acknowledged the general use of the term Registrar in the Act including Deputy Registrar. However, for the purposes of section 33 of the Criminal Procedure Act, a Registrar does not include a Deputy Registrar.

This means only a Judge or the CEO of Justice is permitted to sign the warrant.

“Regrettably Tofilau went beyond the bounds of the law and signed the warrant under her own violation.”

Launo told Police they have copied the Acting CEO of Justice at that time for their information and action to ensure that the relevant procedures of the Act are adhered to at all times.

Radio Polynesia reached out to the Tofialu and CEO of Justice, Moliei Simi Vaai, but there has been no response.