22 Jan 2003

Samoa opposition leader supports judges from neigbouring countries

5:34 pm on 22 January 2003

Samoa's opposition leader, Le Mamea Ropati, is supporting calls for appeal court judges to be appointed from neighbouring Pacific island countries, not from New Zealand and Australia.

This follows comments from Asiata Dr Saleimoa Vaai, the leader of the United Independent party, that the judges should come from similar cultural backgrounds.

Le Mamea says lands and titles cases, in particular, should be heard by judges with experience in these areas.

"Some of the cases are from the lands and titles court... It's got to do with customary lands, and matai titles, and this is quite different from the european way of living, they don't have matais or customary lands,...but our neighbouring countries, like Fiji, Tonga, they have similar sorts of customs and culture to us."

Le Mamea also says he shares concerns voiced by Asiata about the government hosting cocktail parties for Appeal court judges before they issue their rulings.

He says, however, that there's no case he can point to as having been influenced as a result.