Why the Attorney General’s Office has engaged Independent Prosecutors

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Attorney General: Lemalu Herman Retzlaff.

Attorney General: Lemalu Herman Retzlaff. (Photo: Ilia.L.Likou)

In response to concerns raised regarding the engagement of independent prosecutors in relation to the matter before the Court that refers to the (suspended) Police Commissioner, and Director National Prosecutions Office, the Office of the Attorney General wishes to make the following statement. 

Public interest dictates that where the heads of government departments that are to undertake law enforcement in Samoa, are involved in cases particularly where charges were brought by the two departments against each other at the same time, all steps must be taken in transparency and good governance to ensure that justice is not just done, but is also seen to be done. 

An arrangement was previously reached between the Minister of NPO, with the heads of the relevant departments, that the file related to charges against the suspended Police Commissioner, was to be subject to an independent prosecutor being engaged on the advice of Attorney General’s Office. 

The Acting Director of NPO has subsequently stated that this arrangement will not be followed. 

The Attorney General’s office now has updated instructions in response to that position: the Hon Minister of NPO, and further confirmed today by the Acting Hon Prime Minister, take the view, that it is not appropriate for NPO to prosecute this matter. 

The investigation that led to the charges against the Commissioner was said to have been undertaken by the NPO without proper notice or authorization of the Police. 

This was confirmed today by the Acting Commissioner of Police.  

Therefore, given the surrounding matters related to these charges, a party other than the NPO should take carriage of that particular file. 

Further, as there is an independent prosecutor undertaking the matter against the suspended Director of NPO, fairness dictates that the same apply to the other matter. 

As to the civil matter, the Attorney General’s Office to safeguard government is seeking an appropriate adjournment of the related civil matter, until all criminal proceedings are fully completed, so that it has no bearing and conflict on the proper process that should be followed in these cases. 

The National Prosecution Act states that any prosecution of a matter must be done in a fair, independent and objective manner. 

The right hand of law enforcement cannot be seen to be prosecuting its left, without those requirements being followed. 

The position of the Attorney General’s office and government therefore, is that both these matters, should be given carriage, to persons, outside of the government agencies directly involved. 

There is otherwise no wish to be involved in any of the criminal proceedings themselves, only to ensure that they are conducted on the basis of fairness and objectivity. 

 The Office of the Attorney General.

© Samoa Observer 2016

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