Two suspended Samoan members of parliament can now return and resume duties to look after their constituents after a court quashed their indefinite suspension.
Former prime minister and current opposition leader, Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi and Lealailepule Rimoni Aiafi had their suspension declared void by the Supreme Court of Samoa.
After the ruling was delivered, Mr Malielegaoi showed that he had moved on from petty politics that had landed him in hot water.
During a live conference from the Human Rights Political Party headquarters in Samoa, he said there were far more important issues in Samoa which political parties should be focusing on rather than their rivalries.
He said all political parties wanted the betterment of their people.
Mr Malielegaoi and Mr Alafi were suspended indefinitely in May 2022 based on the Special Parliamentary Ethics and Privileges Committee report which found them in contempt of Parliament.
This followed Samoa’s infamous saga over the leadership of the country which was eventually won by Fiame Naomi Mataʻafa.
The ruling was delivered by Justice Tafaoimalo Leilani Tuala-Warren who was one of the presiding judges over the hearing with Chief Justice Satiu Simativa Perese and Senior Judge Vui Clarence Nelson.
He said the court found that the disciplinary rules and practice do not give the persons who are the subject of adverse recommendations by the Privileges and Ethics Committee, the opportunity to be heard as to penalty before the Assembly.
He said this was a failure which breaches a fundamental plank of the rules of fairness that were secured in the Constitution which was the right to be heard.
“The Assembly’s resolution as to the Applicants’ liability for the contempt of Parliament, was not itself directly challenged, and so there is no reason for this Court to consider much less disturb that finding,” Justice Tuala-Warren said.
The Court said it was of the view that suspensions were not indeterminate and did not engage the principles and rights of the Constitution.
The Court said that the treatment of both of the applicants’ rights to natural justice with respect to penalty were inconsistent with their rights preserved under the Constitution.
“We accordingly declare that the part of the Assembly’s motion which purports to suspend the Applicants is void as at the date of the declaration in this judgment,” Justice Tuala-Warren said in his ruling.
“It may be that the Assembly may wish to revisit the penalty aspect, consistently with the Constitution, but that is entirely a matter for that body. However, as at the date of this decision, there is no lawful impediment in the way of the Applicants resuming their duties as members.”