Deputy Speaker questions handling of Police couples

By Joyetter Feagaimaali’i-Luamanu ,

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POLICE ISSUE: Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Nafo'itoa Talaimanu Keti.

POLICE ISSUE: Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Nafo'itoa Talaimanu Keti. (Photo: Samoa Observer)

Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Nafo'itoa Talaimanu Keti, yesterday raised concerns on what he claims to be a loophole in the law, which disallows legally married couples from working together within the Ministry of Police. 

The matter was raised in Parliament, where he queried the Government on why there was no redundancy package offered for the Police officers who were forced to resign as a result of the legislation.

 “Despite the fact that the  regulation has been approved, I am merely highlighting its impact, such as the Ministry of Police,” he said.

Nafo’itoa’s son and daughter-in-law, who worked at the Ministry of Police, were one of the couples affected by the new amendment. 

“They left the force silently for the benefit of the new amendment where married couples are not allowed to work together,” he said. 

“They left the force without any redundancy benefit, this is a concern." 

“The Government should’ve considered finding them job opportunities, what about their personal loan repayments?"

“Nowadays applying for a job is like applying for a visa, especially when you’re a former Police Officer. It’s difficult to find employment at this time and age.”

The concerns were supported by Member of Parliament, Faumuina Tiatia Liuga, who pointed out that the Government should have considered some assistance. 

“Any separation initiated by the employer, the employee will always get some sort of redundancy package unless the employee was terminated, that would be a different story,” Faumuina said. 

“International law is that an employee who is laid off should have been given a redundancy package,” he added.

But Associate Minister of Police, Peseta Vaifou Tevagaena, intervened.

He pointed out that the regulation disallowing couples and children from working together is nothing new. 

“This regulation is mandated under the P.S.C. (Public Service Commission) and because it creates a conflict in any Ministry." 

“Again this is nothing new and the regulation was not abruptly put in place. It has been in place for a very long time, and immediate families cannot be working together. That is why the Minister of Police enforced this regulation.”

Nafo'itoa pointed out the regulation is understandable.

But the Government should have been more considerate, he said.

“Also the regulation has its loopholes, the regulation targets just married couples, what about those in defacto relationships?" 

“That is my main concern. It’s baseless to enforce and implement a law that is incomplete and has loopholes,” he said. 

Last month Police Commissioner, Fuiavaili’ili Egon Keil, bid farewell to Police officers affected. 

According to an earlier statement from the Police, Fuiavaili’ili gave his blessings to the men and women affected and acknowledged every member for the hard work and effort in assuring the safety of Samoa throughout the whole year.  

The Commissioner also touched on the members who have resigned from the service because of the new amendment. 

He wished them all the best for their future endeavors and also recognised their contribution to the people of Samoa in the many years they had serve in the Ministry of Police in different sections.  

As reported earlier, there are 23 affected. 

The new regulation applies only to legally married couples and does not extend to a couple living in defacto relationships.  

This led to the ultimatum for the Police Officers to resign from their post.  

The move by the Tuilaepa administration has been heavily criticised by several of the Police officers affected. They say the decision is unfair.  

“What about the loans we have to pay? We are also leaders in villages and churches where we have to contribute. How are we to do that?” one Police officer said. 

The Police officer said the Prime Minister’s ultimatum was a breach of human rights. 

“The current administration is the high and mighty Human Rights Political Party and they are supposed to be fighting and protecting our rights as the people,” the Officer continued. “But what has happened is the total opposite.”

© Samoa Observer 2016

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