Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi
Prime Minister of Samoa
Keynote Address to launch the Sex Offenders Register
Final Report and other law reform projects
Today I am very pleased to formally launch Samoa’s Sex Offenders Register Final Report and other law reform projects recently completed by the Samoa Law Reform Commission.
The establishment of the Samoa Law Reform Commission in 2008 was a significant milestone for Samoa. It reflected our Government’s commitment to uphold and sustain the rule of law, and also demonstrate its belief that a systemic review and reform of the law, is an essential obligation of a democratic government
Established under the Law Reform Commission Act 2008, the Samoa Law Reform Commission facilities the review, reform and development of the laws of Samoa in order to promote Samoan custom and traditions enhance the social cultural economic and commercial development of Samoa and to ensure that the laws of Samoa are kept in a modern state which meets the needs of Government and the community
The Samoa Law Reform Commission undertakes law reform in accordance with references provided by either myself, Cabinet or to the Attorney General. The Samoa Law Reform Commission can also suggest programs for reforms to the Attorney General.
In 2013, the Samoa Law Reform Commission received a reference from the Attorney General to assess, if it is appropriate for Samoa to establish a Sex Offenders Register and whether such a register would help to deter sexual re – offending.
A Discussion Paper was approved by Cabinet and Public consultation were held in October 2013 which raised issues around the establishment of a Sex Offender Register. Public consultations have assisted the Commission to develop recommendations in its Final Report, which was approved by Cabinet and published in May 2015.
The Commission also developed a Sex Offenders Registration Bill which reflected the recommendations made in the Final Report.
Although the Sex Offenders Register Final Report was completed two years ago, its official launch today is fitting given the prevalence of sexual crimes in Samoa and the pending enactment of the Sex Offender Registration Bill 2017. This Bill is now with the Office of the Clerk of the Legislative Assembly for tabling before the Parliament
The Commissions Final Report highlights that between 2009 and 2013, there were 535crimes of a sexual nature reported to the Ministry of Police. An overall trend shows a 20% increase in reported sexual crimes form 2009 to 2013. The most common types of reported sexual crimes include rape, indecent assault and attempted rape. A key aim of the Commissions Final Report was to therefore consider if and how a Sex Offenders Register could be better protect victims of sexual crimes, including children and reduce sexual crime in Samoa
Overall the Samoa Law Reform Commission in its Final Report recommended the establishment of a Sex Offenders Register through legislation called the Sex Offender Registration Act.
The purpose of the Sex Offenders Register for Samoa includes:
- Assisting in law enforcement and crime prevention
- Requiring offenders who commit registrable offences to provide personal details to the Ministry of Police and keep them informed of their whereabouts
- Requiring persons who move to Samoa or are deported to Samoa following a sexual conviction overseas, to provide personal details to the Ministry of Police and keep them informed of their whereabouts
- To assist in the monitoring and management of sex offenders in the community and
- To reduce sexual re – offending
The Final Report also recommend for the Sex Offenders Register to be enforced and administered by the Ministry of Police. Other recommendations like accessibility to the register and the strong importance of keeping accurate and current data on conviction rates, types of offences and re – offending rates, are also provided in the Final Report. Therefore, I encourage you all to read the Final Report by the Samoa Law Reform Commission
I am also pleased to officially launch the following law reform projects recently completed by the Samoa Law Reform Commission
1. Alcohol Reform Final Report 2016
In March 2013, the Commission received a reference to review Samoa’s alcohol laws with the objective of reducing harm caused by alcohol abuse
An Issue Paper was published in November 2013 followed by public consultations in both Savaii and Upolu in 2104. In July 2016, Cabinet approved the Commission’s Final Report and Draft Alcohol Bill reflecting its recommendation. The Final Report is at reading stage at the Office of the Legislative Assembly for tabling in Parliament. The Alcohol Control Bill is with the Attorney General Office for finalization
2. Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) Final Report 2016
The Commission received a reference from the Attorney General to review Samoa’s legislative compliance with its obligations under the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). The Final Report was completed and approved by Cabinet in August 2016. The Final Report was submitted to the Office of the Legislative Assembly for tabling in Parliament in January 2017.
3. Pule ale Matai Sa’o 2017
In March 2015, I asked the Commission to explore legislative and non legislative measures to address the abuse of power by the Sa’o or paramount chief of a family. A Discussion Paper was completed in August 2016 after which the Commission carried out public consultations in Upolu and Savaii in October and November 2016. The Commission’s Final Report was completed and approved by Cabinet in February 2017. The Final Report is now with the Office of the Legislative Assembly for tabling.
4. Review of Samoa’s Civil Procedure Rules 2017
In 2008, the Commission received a reference from Cabinet and the Attorney General to review the laws regulating Samoa’s court processes. This reference included a review of the Supreme Court (Civil Procedure) Rules 1980 and Magistrate Court Rules 1971.
The Issue Papers 1 and 2 for this project were completed and approved by Cabinet in 2012 and 2014 respectively. In 2015, consultations were carried out with members of the Judiciary and the Law Society. The Commission completed its Final Report which was approved by Cabinet in February 2017. The Final Report will be bound for tabling in Parliament. New rules are currently being drafted to reflect the Commission’s Final Report the ort recommendations.
Copies of the Final Reports by the Commission have been stores in flash drives and have been provided to you all for your information
Other reviews currently undertaken by the Commission include the Review of the Narcotics Act 1967 (Drugs Reform) and the Review of the Ministerial and Departmental Arrangements Act 2003. Discussion papers for these projects are now with Cabinet for approval before public consultations begin. I encourage you all to read these papers when published, make submissions and attend public consultations to assist the Commission develop its Final report recommendations
In conclusion I would like to acknowledge the staff of the Samoa Law reform Commission for their hard work and dedication which is evident today with the completion of numerous law reform projects. I would also like to acknowledge the financial support given by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), UNDP and Australia which has made this launching possible. To our Advisory Board members, Government stakeholders Non Government organizations and members of the public thank you for your support in the work of the Samoa Law Reform Commission and we will continue to look to your support and your guidance in the future.
It is now my great pleasure to officially launch the Sex Offenders’ Register Final Report and other law reform projects by the Samoa Law Reform Commission.