Special Inquiry Committee report approved in Parliament

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After two days of deliberation, Parliament today approved the report prepared by the Special Inquiry Report into the four different sets of the Lands and Title bills, as uncovered by the Attorney General’s office.

Chairman of the Committee, Deputy Speaker of the House, Auapaau¬† Aloitafua Mulipola pointed out their investigation confirmed the concerns raised by the AG’s office.

“There are 4 different copies that were distributed and sold to the public yet these copies were all wrong due to the changes that were inserted after the Acts were assented to by the Head of State.”

Email correspondence was included in the report “clearly indicated” the amendments that were not passed by Parliament.

Earlier Auapa’au said there were 15 Members of Parliament that spoke on the report during deliberations in the House and that the majority of the recommendations were to repeal the Acts in question the Lands and Titles Act 2020 and the Constitution Amendment Act 2020.

Adding that the Standing Order processes of 111, 112, and 113 were not followed when the changes were made to the Act. and it begs the question under whose authority led to the amendments of the Acts given that the OCLA and its responsible minister had not done so when they had the time.

The Chairperson commended the committee members for their commitment and work in the preparation of the Report given that it is the first-time such committee has been established to investigate such matters.

Prime Minister Fiame Naomi Mata’afa outlined the role of Parliament in
making, and passing as well as amending Laws and with the issue at hand, the Committee came up with 2 conclusions which are; there is no Act in place to elect the President of the LTC and its Judges which is essential to the operation of the LTC.

The Prime Minister noted the terms of reference for the Committee, to consider the role of Parliament should similar matters arise in the future; to investigate whether the process used led to the different copies of the Acts; look into the legal aspects of how the process was carried out and for the Committee to submit recommendations to assure similar issues does not repeat.

The Committee recommended this matter should be referred to the AG’s office and the Ministry of Police and Prisons for further investigations and appropriate actions.