The following is a statement by the Chief Executive Officer, Ministry of Prime Minister and Cabinet, Agafili Shem Leo, in response to inquiries relating to the recent assault implicating two returnees:
The two suspects charged with the alleged assault of David Main recently were deported from the United States five years ago.
However at this time, I have not been privy to any further information pertaining to the circumstances which may have provoked the assault as the matter is the subject of an ongoing criminal investigation by police.
While I agree with your statement that in cases of this nature it is beyond government’s control, it would be amiss if the unfortunate incident which has victimised an innocent member of the public will overshadow the government’s initiative and leading role to establishment the Samoa Returnees Charitable Trust (S.R.C.T.) in 2011.
To date, a government policy is in place which mandates all sending countries to provide to Samoan authorities a complete medical clearance, a complete criminal history, conditions of parole if the returnee has been released on parole prior to their return to Samoa.
But the most crucial component is that they must have family contacts in Samoa.
The Ministry of Prime Minister and Cabinet (M.P.M.C.) insists on the returnees sending countries to provide family contacts well in advance so that we can connect to the relevant families for ease of engagement with the returnees.
This is part of their rehabilitational engagement initiated by government as many of the returnees had left Samoa at a young age.
Reuniting with relatives will rekindle their family bonds and resurrect a sense of responsibility as well as a sense of belonging for the returnees to become assets to their respective families, villages, churches and our country.
And in some instances, the re-engagement through the matais, faifeaus and the village communities have been successful as evidenced by returnees Papalii Siva Afi and Lemalu Toilolo and other returnees who have remorse to become leading role models in preaching the ills of a life in crime through public forums to encourage our youths through their testimonies based on their past experiences and how the Lord has transformed their lives to date.
Government has also provided the office facilities for the S.R.C.T. Headquarters at Nafanua where the returnees have utilised it as a home for fellowship, training and other purposes.
At the same time, the S.R.C.T. Management Board composition also includes Chief Executive Officers from a number of Government Ministries.
This all reaffirms the government’s genuine vision for returnees to be afforded every opportunity for a new beginning and a second chance to contribute to the welfare of the country and our general public.
Again, the incident in question is a huge disappointment and I am confident that justice will be served now that the matter is in the hands of the appropriate authorities.