We respectfully write in regards to a letter by a Ola Fia published in your edition of Wednesday 15 June 2016.
While the Office of the Electoral Commission respects his or her freedom of expression, our duty to ensure that correct information is made available to the public is rather more important.
We do not wish to engage in a tit for tat debate on this issue as we have on a number of occasions explained to the public through the media the requirements of the Electoral Act 1963 pertaining to the qualifications of candidates for any elections.
On that instance, we wish to once again emphasize that Section 5(5)(b)(i) of the Act clearly states that a candidate must declare that he or she has a previous conviction in Samoa or any other jurisdiction of a crime punishable by death or imprisonment of not less than four years in the previous eight years.
There is nothing in the Act that requires a candidate to declare that he or she has a charge or an outstanding warrant of arrest as Ola Fia alluded to in his letter.
It’s obvious that the logic behind this part of our legislation, which is not a new requirement by the way, is to uphold the notion that every person is innocent until proven gtuilty by the Court of law.
For ease of reference Mr. Editor, below are the exact words in the Electoral Act which govern the issue raised by the writer.
(5) A person is disqualified for being a candidate or being elected as a Member of Parliament if the person:
(b) has been—
(i) convicted in a Samoa or another country within the previous 8 years, of an offence punishable by death or by imprisonment for a term of 4 years or more;
Ma le fa’aaloalo lava,
Faimalomatumua Mathew Lemisio
Acting Electoral Commissioner