An Act which increases the penalties for most sexual-related offences which have been on the rise in Samoa, has been passed in parliament.
The Crimes Act 2013 will commence on 01 May 2013 and is effectively an updated version of the Crimes Ordinance 1961 according to the Attorney General, Aumua Ming Leung Wai.
The new Act introduces new offences such as computer-related offences, people smuggling and trafficking, offences that cater for complex fraud offences such as stealing land, offences relating to invasion of privacy pertaining to people engaging in sexual activities, offences relating to the distribution of sexual material using mobile phones.
“The increase in penalties will hopefully deter sexual offending,” he said. “Reducing sexual offending would no doubt afford better protection of vulnerable persons such as young children, women and other vulnerable groups in our society”
The Crimes Act 2013 is a result of a project conducted by a Government working group that was formed to review and reform the criminal laws of Sāmoa.
The Crimes Ordinance 1961 is the first of the criminal related laws to be reviewed and reformed, to be followed by the Criminal Procedure Act 1972, Evidence Ordinance 1961 and a proposed Sentencing Act, due to be finalised later this year.
The Government working group consists of representatives from the Ministry of Police and Prison Services, the Ministry of Justice and Courts Administration, the Attorney General’s Office, the Sāmoa Law Reform Commission, the Ministry of Health, the National Health Services, Ministry of Women, Community and Social Development and the Audit Office. Extensive consultations with the public were spearheaded by the Sāmoa Law Reform Commission.
Essentially, the Act aims to comprehensively reform offences to cater for the social, economic, political and technological changes and development in our society.