The judicial system is headed by a Supreme Court, whose Chief Justice is appointed by the Head of State on the advice of the Prime Minister. The judges of the Supreme Court also preside over the Court of Appeal. The lower courts include the Magistrate`s Court, which hears most criminal cases, and the Lands and Titles Court, which deals with civil cases. Some civil and criminal cases are handled by village fonos (traditional courts), which use a significantly different procedure from that of formal Western-style courts. The Village Fono Act 1990 gives legal status to the Village Fono`s decision and allows for appeals against Fono decisions to the Regional and Titles Court and the Supreme Court. In July 2000, the Supreme Court ruled that the Village Fono Act could not be used to violate the freedom of religion, expression, assembly or association of villagers. The judicial system is based on English common law and local customs. The Supreme Court of Samoa is the supreme court. The Court of Appeal has jurisdiction only to hear cases referred to it by the Supreme Court.
Below the Supreme Court are the district courts. The President of the Supreme Court is appointed by the Head of State on the recommendation of the Prime Minister. The Samoan system is a very harsh model of parliamentary democracy, in which the executive and legislative branches of government are merged. The Prime Minister is elected by the majority in the Fono and appointed by the Head of State to form a government. The Prime Minister`s preferred 12-member cabinet is appointed and sworn in by the Head of State, subject to the continued confidence of the Fono, which has been controlled by the party with the majority of Fono (government) members since the rise of political parties in Samoa in the 1980s. Since the country`s independence in 1962, only Matai has been able to vote and run in parliamentary elections. In 1990, the electoral system was changed by the Electoral Amendment Act, which introduced universal suffrage. However, the right to stand for election still belongs to the holders of the Matai title. Therefore, in the 51-seat parliament, the 49 Samoan MPs are also matai and exercise a dual role as modern chiefs and politicians, with the exception of the two seats reserved for non-Samoans.
 At the local level, many of the country`s civil and criminal cases are handled under traditional law by some 360 village chiefs, Fono o Matai, a practice further reinforced by the Village Fano law of 1990.  Samoan politics takes place within the framework of a democratic parliamentary representative state in which the Prime Minister of Samoa is the head of government. In addition to the country`s Western-style political system, there is the fa`amatai, primarily a system of governance and socio-political organization that is essential to understanding Samoa`s political system. From independence until the 1970s, the Fono debate was conducted in the typical “consensus” style of the Faamatai system in the villages. This meant that the Tama-a-Aiga generally received the respect due to Parliament (the country`s highest-ranking chiefs). The debate usually ended with members supporting the then Tama-a-Aiga Prime Minister or other high-ranking leaders of the house. Fiame Mataafa Mulinuu II was re-elected unopposed Prime Minister between 1962 and 1975. There were no political parties in these consensual parliaments of the 1960s and early 1970s. In Parliament 1970-73, the first woman president of Fono was elected – Leaupepe Faima`ala.
Head of Government: Prime Minister – the Head of State appoints the Prime Minister because he is a member of Parliament who has the confidence of a majority in Parliament. Appeals Division of the Supreme Court of American Samoa – the Head of State appoints the Chief Justice on the advice of the Prime Minister; the other judges are appointed by the Head of State on the recommendation of the JSC. The judicial procedure is based on the practice of the British courts. Samoan custom is taken into account in some cases. English is the official language of the dish, but Samoan is also used. The Supreme Court has full civil and criminal jurisdiction over the administration of justice in Samoa. It is subject to the jurisdiction of the President of the Supreme Court appointed by the Head of State on the advice of the Prime Minister. The Court of Appeal consists of three judges, who may be judges of the Supreme Court or other appropriately qualified persons. Samoa has a police force, but no standing army.
New Zealand is contractually obliged to provide military assistance upon request. In 2020, proposed constitutional amendments, including removing regular regional courts from Supreme Court oversight, met with considerable resistance.  The adoption of these laws led to the founding of the opposition party Faʻatuatua i le Atua Samoa ua Tasi (FAST).  The new party gained the support of some prominent political figures, including Fiamē Naomi Mataʻafa, who defected from the HRPP to FAST and became its leader. In the 2021 Samoan parliamentary election, FAST won 25 seats, the number of seats retained by the HRPP. The only remaining seat was won by independent Tuala Iosefo Ponifasio.  Head of State: O le Ao o le Malö – from 1 January 1962, 2 traditional kings appointed by the Constitution jointly held the office. After the death of one of them, Chief Susuga Maleatoa Tanumafili II became the sole head of state.
Successive heads of state are elected by a majority of the members of the Legislative Assembly for a five-year term. Freedom of assembly is protected by law and respected in practice. However, public gatherings were banned during the state of emergency declared in November 2019 during a measles outbreak that killed 81 people by the end of the year. The state of emergency expired at the end of December. There are no serious restrictions on private discussions or the expression of personal opinions. However, in July 2019, prominent Australian blogger Malele Atofu Paulo pleaded guilty to defamation and was sentenced to seven weeks in prison in October. Paulo had accused Prime Minister Tuila`epa of corruption and involvement in the assassination of Samoan politician Luagalau Leva`ula Kamu in 1999. Fonos – Village councils, officially recognised by the Village Fono (Samoa) Act 1990, deal exclusively with village matters such as culture, customs and traditions and include all customary land matters.