A grey area for legal minds

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Dear Editor

Re: M.P. blasts Minister According to Clarence Joseph Nelson, Justice of the Supreme Court of Samoa, in a published paper (http://www.unafei.or.jp/eng... on Samoan corruption, the Crimes Ordinance 1961 Part V Section 35 clearly defines any taking of monies, call it a bribe or a tip, by an officer of the Government is an offence of Official Corruption.

“35. Official corruption-Every one commits the offence of official corruption and is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 5 years who- (a) Being the holder of any office, whether judicial or otherwise, in the service of the Independent State of Western Samoa, corruptly accepts or obtains, or agrees to accept or attempts to obtain, for himself or any other person any bribe - that is to say, any money or valuable consideration whatever - on account of anything done or to be afterwards done by him in his official capacity;”

This Ordinance seems to have been succeeded by the Crimes Act of 2013 with the following Section 138;

“138. Corruption and bribery of official-(1) An official is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding seven (7) years who, whether within Samoa or another country, corruptly accepts or obtains, or agrees or offers to accept or attempts to obtain, any bribe for himself or herself or any other person in respect of any act done or omitted, or to be done or omitted, by the official in his or her official capacity.”

I am no lawyer, but the way I read the current legislation, it has introduced the term “bribe” in place of “any money or valuable consideration whatever” which allows the interpretation of a Tip to be differentiated from a Bribe.

The question to the legal fraternity and the Supreme Court in particular, is; “Has the intent of the Crimes Ordinance 1961 S35a been maintained or dumbed down to allow Tips to be legal?”

Could a simple amendment to Section 2, Interpretation with the addition of the following correct the loophole created in 2013?

“bribe” - any money or valuable consideration whatever - on account of anything done or to be afterwards done.

It used to be clear and unambiguous, receive money for doing your Government job and you have committed an offence, but it looks like the Samoan Government of 2013 have legalised Bribery in the form of Tips.

 

K.H.

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