Samoa yesterday commissioned a Sex Offender’s Registry to become one of few Pacific Islands states that will track and monitor a convicted sex offender after their release from prison.
The establishment of the registry comes seven months after the Sex Offenders Registration Act 2017 was signed into law by the Head of State, His Highness Tuimaleali’ifano Va’aletoa Sualauvi II.
Police Commissioner, Fuiavailili Egon Keil, said the law and the establishment of the registry will enable the Police to track offender’s movements in Samoa.
“The purpose of this legislation is to also mandate them (sexual offenders) to provide their personal details, prevent registered sex offenders from working in child related facilities and to facilitate the monitoring compliance that this Act,” he said.
“Though basic, this newly created database has all the necessary function to capture and maintain permanent information on every sex offender in Samoa.
“The computerised database to name a few, lists offender’s name, contact, numbers, address, nicknames, affiliation, photographs, fingerprints, tattoos, body scars and so on.”
Fuiavailili has appealed for support from community and church leaders and government agencies.
“This is to protect the women and children of Samoa. This piece of legislation is nothing new this has been used throughout the world and is widely by other international and regional law enforcement partners of the Samoa Police. It is further advocated by the Samoa Law Reform, the Samoa Justice Sector, Office of the Attorney General, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Prison and Correction and the Ministry of Women, Community and Social Development.”
The registry will be headed by Inspector Efo Mualele Tuua who will lead a team that will collect all information and ensure coordination with the Office of the Attorney General and the Court Registrar.
“They will be in charge of collecting all the information and making sure they coordinate with the court and Attorney General’s Office to get all the names of the individuals who are going to be registered in this database.
“It’s unfortunate, but that’s just how it is in life today so we had to move forward. This Bill was created and now it’s an Act and now we have to implement these things,” added Fuiavailili.
The Police Commissioner said the registrar at the Court will notify the registry when an individual is convicted of a sex crime.
“We will then work at getting the individual’s information and enter them and put it all in the system and we have to tell this individual that there are certain criteria they have to follow. Now if the Court registrar gives us the wrong information about the convicted individual for example their names and all that, we can actually charge the registrar for providing us with wrong information.”
The establishment of the sex offender’s registry was made possible through funding assistance from the Australian Federal Police, which also donated two new Toyota Hilux vehicles to support its work.
Fuiavailili commended and thanked the Australia Federal Police for funding the project and acknowledged the role of Justice Vui Clarence Nelson, who initiated moves five years ago to work on the legislation when he appealed to the Government to set up a registry.
“I acknowledge the tenacity of Justice Vui Clarence Nelson as he was the person who championed this cause since 2012 so thank you for your deep concerns for the victims of Samoa. I commend the Australian Federal Police for funding two police vehicles, computers and office equipment specifically for this project,” he added.