Police “mess” a govt. issue, says Ombudsman

By Lanuola Tupufia – Ah Tong ,

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OMBUDSMAN: Maiava Iulai Toma.

OMBUDSMAN: Maiava Iulai Toma.

Ombudsman, Maiava Iulai Toma, has declined to comment on a call for a Commission of Inquiry to investigate internal issues at the Ministry of Police.

He told the Samoa Observer the in fighting at the Ministry of Police is an issue for the government. 

The Ombudsman was asked for a comment in response to a call by Member of Parliament, Olo Fiti Va’ai, urging the Ombudsman to clean up the Police system.

But Maiava was reluctant to talk about the current situation at Police.

 “For him (Olo) there is a big problem somewhere,” said Maiava. 

“(It) should be examined fully I guess. What I’m trying to say, it’s an issue for government and it’s not for me to comment on.

“But as an ordinary citizen, any problem is worth of examination and understanding.”

 Asked about the number of ghost letters penned by police officers alleging internal problems between Police officers and the management of the Ministry, the Ombudsman said he was unaware of them.

“I don’t read a lot of that stuff,” he said.

Last week, an overseas-based prosecutor, Paul Dacre QC, withdrew charges against the Police Commissioner, Fuiavailiili, in the Supreme Court. 

 After reviewing the case, Mr. Dacre said, “I am of the clear view that the evidence is no longer sufficient to show a reasonable prospect of conviction.”

The charges against Fuiava initially arose from actions by the National Prosecution Office relying on findings in a comprehensive report by Ombudsman Maiava into a police raid for member of the public, Suitupe Misa. 

In that report published in April 2016, Maiava described the incident at Fugalei market on 18th August 2015 as a “watershed moment in the history of Samoa” where police used firearms in a public place to carry out a pre-planned arrest of an individual. 

Mr. Misa was arrested at gunpoint by a contingent of armed plain clothed officers in front of a shocked and distressed Fugalei marketplace. 

It transpired that Mr. Misa had "committed no crime" and the arrest was "carried out based on insubstantial and second-hand evidence."

 “The Commissioner of Police failed to meet basic investigation principles and placed undue consideration on second hand evidence, leading directly to the wrongful and unlawful arrest of Suitupe,” the report’s findings read. 

“The Commissioner’s decision to arm and allow the use of firearms by his officers contravened the Use of Force policy, was irresponsible, and could negatively impact the overall safety and security within Samoa.

“The Commissioner failed to take appropriate steps to identify the actions of his officers as being part of a police operation, leading to widespread distress and in one case serious health issues.”

© Samoa Observer 2016

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