MINISTER for Justice and Legal Affairs Makario Tagini said that appealed election petition decisions need a specially instituted Court of Appeal.
The minister echoed the sentiment when contributing to a motion moved by the Leader of Opposition Mathew Wale yesterday.
The motion was to consider the Paper, ‘Solomon Islands Electoral Commission Officer 2019 Annual Report’.
In his opening statement, Wale highlighted the issue of election cases and the Courts.
Tagini who is also a lawyer by profession commented that he is also of the same view saying that at the moment, all election petitions stop at the High Court.
“I understand that the twelve months period provided in the Electoral Act is useful to dispose of all petition mattes.
“But I am insisting that may be a period of three months should be allowed to test the judgement of the High Court in the Court of Appeal so as to fully exhaust the legal process,” he stressed.
He said they are all aware that petition cases must be dealt with within a period of twelve months.
However, the government needs to continue with its duties no matter what and hence; the institution of an appeal court would give the much-needed justice in our judiciary system.
Tagini said that if the High Court decides the matter in 12 months, we must allow the Court of Appeal to convene a special hearing within 3 months to look into any matters of disagreement with regards to the decision made by the High Court.
The Minister said that the case in point is, “If you look at the election petition decisions made by the High Court, different Judges hold different outcomes so it must be tested in the Court of appeal to determine whether justice is really served or otherwise.”
An example could be when our culture comes into play during the election period.
Tagini said that judges might hold different decisions when culture and the Electoral Laws collide therefore, the decisions need to be tested in the Court of Appeal.
He also highlighted that we need to clearly define the offences under the Electoral Act – corrupt and illegal offences.
“What offences amount to corruption and equally, what offences amount to illegality under the law,” he said.
Tagini further emphasised that the 12 months period is an intrusion into the 3rd arm of government.
“Parliament dictates that petition cases be heard within a period of 12 months according to the Electoral Law.
“This is a blatant intrusion into the judiciary system.
“We should not be doing that because parliament is overstepping the ‘separation of power’ threshold.
“What we should do is to allow the High Court through the petition rules that the matter be decided within 12 months,” he stressed.
These powers are vested with the High Court to ensure these changes are instituted and not parliament.
“We can still decide within 12 months but allow the High Court to decide because it has its own rules to play by in terms of petitions,” he added.
By ANDREW FANASIA