Apr 25, 2017 Last Updated 9:25 AM, Apr 12, 2017

TUVALU Prime Minister Enele Sosene Sopoaga has not rested. Barely settled at home after the 22nd session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 22) in Morocco in November, Sopoaga plunged straight into laying the platform for his country’s inaugural Climate Resilience Week, while juggling an intense government budget debate in Tuvalu’s national parliament.

“There is no time to waste. This is all part of building protective measures long term. We cannot just sit around and wait for outside help and that is why we must keep the momentum going from Paris as well as Morocco,” says Sopoaga as he rounded up from yet another meeting, this time a strenuous week-long United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) regional meet in Suva in December.

Tuvalu is among those at the forefront of advocating for the inclusion of a legal mechanism to recognise the rights of persons displaced by climate change. “We are pushing for a Pacific Islands Insurance Facility for the region. There will be a specific formula which we are putting together as part of this based on things like the strength and damage of natural disasters and of course, easy access to those affected,” Sopoaga says. 

.....to read more buy your personal copy at

Former PM seeks re-election

PROTESTS in Funafuti, capital of Tuvalu, against Tuvalu’s newly appointed Chief Justice saw the deferment to March of a bi-election in the island’s parliament. Strongly tipped to win his Vaitupu seat again is Apisai Ielemia, although the government of Prime Minister Enele Sopoaga has put up an opponent. A member of the opposition and being a former Prime Minister himself, Hon Ielemia lost his seat in a controversial ruling of Chief Justice Charles Sweeney in October last year. Sweeney, an Australian, was appointed by the Tuvalu Governor General at the beginning of 2016 to replace Sir Gordon Ward, who has been unable to travel to Tuvalu through Fiji due to a travel ban the Fiji regime had imposed against him.

He was President of Fiji’s Court of Appeal until his resignation on December 2006 following the military coup that brought to power the then Fiji military commander Frank Bainimarama. Last November’s peaceful protests by about 80 people of mostly men but with some women, young people and children was the second in recent months, all aimed at CJ Sweeney. Protestors carried banners and placards telling the Australian jurist he was no longer welcome to set foot again on Funafuti. Judge Sweeney was reportedly in Australia at the time.

.....to read more buy your personal copy at

Judge questions handling of case by PM and his deputy

A LANDMARK court case last May in Tuvalu which saw the jailing of a former prime minister who is a sitting opposition MP has ended abruptly when the island’s high court declared the conviction as “manifestly unsafe,” quashed the 12 month jail term and ordered no further court trials. In so doing, stand in Judge Norman Franzi of Melbourne, Australia expressed grave concerns at the behaviour of the current Prime Minister of Tuvalu Enele Sopoaga, and his deputy Maatia Toafa, also a former prime minister in the investigations of the case.

“I note in passing that two of Tuvalu’s Prime Ministers took part in the preparation or investigation carried out for this case,” said Judge Franzi. “I consider that contrary to the separate of powers in the Westminster System of Government. There is material in the appeal book volume 3 page 711 that indicated that [then] Prime Minster Maatia Toafa had coerced an email response from John Chen [a Taiwanese businessman].

“The email was tendered as an exhibit not as to the truth of its contents. In the Senior Magistrate’s judgement the email was relied on as to the truth of its contents. Prime Minster Sopoaga in appeal book volume 1 at page 121 gave evidence recorded in the Senior Magistrate’s notes that “I’m accountable to Tuvalu. I have every obligation to seek this information.”

.....to read more buy your personal copy at

Sweeney is Tuvalu CJ

PM dodges questions over conflict of interest

CONTROVERSY surrounds the appointment in Tuvalu of its new Chief Justice as questions are being raised about the close links between the appointee and the island’s Prime Minister.

Australian barrister and Queens Counsel Charles Sweeney is Chief Justice of Tuvalu, succeeding Justice Sir Gordon Ward who tendered his resignation citing difficulties in performing his constitutional role because of a travel ban imposed against him by the Fijian Government. Fiji was displeased when Sir Gordon resigned as President of the Fiji Court of Appeal after the December 2006 military coup, and had refused to lift the travel ban every time Sir Gordon wanted to transit through Fiji in order to attend to court duties in Tuvalu.

Contacted two months ago, Tuvalu’s Prime Minister Enele Sopoaga refused to respond to magazine questions about the perceived conflict of interest in the appointment of Sweeney to replace Sir Gordon, given that the Australian QC represented him and several of his cabinet ministers in a defamation case Sir Gordon, as Chief Justice presided over in 2011. Sopoaga and his colleagues as plaintiffs lost the case and got fined AU$50,000 for defamation.

.....to read more buy your personal copy at

Tuvalu court jails former PM

Japan, Taiwan interests named in abuse of office trial

FOR the first time in Tuvalu’s 38 years as an independent nation, a former prime minister currently sitting as an opposition member-of- parliament has been convicted and jailed on corruption and abuse of office charges. Apisai Ielemia, Tuvalu’s Prime Minister for four years from August 2006 to September 2010, was last month jailed for 12 months by Chief Magistrate Simon Kofe after finding him guilty on four counts of abuse of office.

However, in a rare departure from the norm, Chief Magistrate Kofe further ruled that the 12 month jail term should only be served during weekends. This frees Ielemia to continue to live with his family in Funafuti, the capital, during the week. And Islands Business has also been advised that he will be able to continue to serve as an MP.

The charges stemmed from the final year of Ielemia’s term, where on four occasions starting in November 2009, the former leader received a total of AU$21,506.07 (US$15,524.52) from two foreign interests.

The money was deposited into his National Bank of Tuvalu personal account, which he admitted in his cautioned interview with the Tuvalu Police and again at trial. Ielemia said he used the money for the benefit of others.

.....to read more buy your personal copy at

Page 1 of 4

Most Read

A tale of two magazines

12 Apr 2017 2017 April

Pacific loses gifted icon

12 Apr 2017 2017 April


12 Apr 2017 2017 April

Rape in the name of religion

12 Apr 2017 2017 April

Silence of the rams

12 Apr 2017 2017 April

Find Us on Facebook