Concern regarding political pressure on Samoa's judiciary
21 June 2021
The South Pacific Lawyers' Association (SPLA) expresses its concern over political pressure which has been placed on Samoa’s judiciary following the recent elections.
Both under Samoa’s Constitution, and as a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), Samoa’s government has an obligation to guarantee the independence of the judiciary.
It follows that Samoa’s Government and institutions have a duty to refrain from any inappropriate or unwarranted interference with the judicial process, and to ensure that Samoa’s judiciary is able to decide matters before them without any restriction, influence or interference, direct or indirect, from any quarter or for any reason. This includes political or populist pressure driven by either side.
In this regard, SPLA is particularly concerned about action taken by the Attorney-General to have the entire bench of the Supreme Court recused from deciding cases arising from the election. There is no evidence that Samoa’s judiciary has failed to conduct itself with independence and integrity, faithfully discharging its duties in accordance with the judicial oath.
On behalf of SPLA’s member organisations, the Association urges all parties in Samoa to respect the judicial process and Samoa’s judiciary, and abide fully with decisions of the Courts in good faith and in accordance with the rule of law.
SPLA was established in 2007 with the object of supporting law societies and bar associations in the South Pacific region, and promoting the interests of the legal profession in the South Pacific. Its member organisations comprise law associations of 17 South Pacific countries, with an executive of seven elected members. The current Chair is Dr Gordon Hughes AM representing the Law Council of Australia.
Commonwealth Lawyers Association, Commonwealth Magistrates and Judges Association, Commonwealth Legal Education Association, 16 June 2021
Law Council of Australia, 11 June 2021
New Zealand Law Society, 10 June 2021