Mother questions the Ombudsman’s Office

By Lanuola Tusani Tupufia 11 July 2016, 12:00AM

A 45-year-old mother from Siumu who had her home raided last year by armed Police officers, wants some answers. 

Silafai Tupito is desperate to know why the Office of the Ombudsman has yet to look into her case.

“When they raided my home, it was like the actions of Saddam Hussein – something you see only on television,” said Mrs. Tupito told the Samoa Observer.

“They were armed and entering my house without notice or a warrant. 

“I felt humiliated and scared for my children. Even up until now, people in my village and some family members still look at me as if I’m a criminal.

“That is why I wanted the matter to be looked at by the Ombudsman so they can clear this up and for me to have some peace.”

Contacted for a comment on Friday, a staff member who was not authorised to speak to the media, said the Ombudsman, Maiava Iulai Toma, was in a meeting. 

She added that many cases investigated by their Office are hampered and delayed by the lack of responses from the Ministries or individuals concerned.

Mrs. Tupito’s home was raided by armed Police officers in September last year where her husband was taken into custody. 

He was accused of being in possession of marijuana. Days later, her home was raided by armed Police officers again and this time she was alone at home with her two young children. They did not find anything at the house.

Mrs. Tupito said they did not show her a search warrant.  Frightened and threatened by how the armed Police officers handled the matter while her children looked on, the mother said she wrote to the Office of the Ombudsman last year to lodge a complaint.

“I wanted justice to be done,” she said.  Up until, now she said she has not heard from them. 

In raising the matter through the Samoa Observer, the mother said she wanted to know whether the Ombudsman had looked at her case. 

Almost a year after that incident, Mrs. Tupito says she feels traumatised from what happened that day. 

“It’s sad because my children one of whom is a two year-old and disabled and the other was five, had to witness it,” she said. “I was scared seeing them armed and pointing the gun around and my children did not know what was happening. Since that day I’m still carrying this humiliation and the sad thing about it is even my extended family is bearing that humiliation.”

Up until now, the mother said she had not received an apology or anything from the Commissioner of Police or from the Ministry of Police for the way she was treated with her children. 

It was not possible to get a comment from the Police Commissioner, Fuiavailiili Egon Keil.  However in the wake of the incident in September last year, he told the media that the police were armed but denied the officers pointed a gun at a child or in the presence of a child.

By Lanuola Tusani Tupufia 11 July 2016, 12:00AM

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