It’s time to deal with sex predators

By Mata'afa Keni Lesa 06 January 2016, 12:00AM

The question of whether Samoa should set up a Sex Offenders Register is not new. It has been raised and discussed in some detail before and yet judging by the absence of a register, nothing has amounted from it. 

Which means that sex offenders continue to enjoy the freedom to roam and break the law as they like in Samoa, bringing much suffering and heartaches to victims all across the country.

As we begin a new year, we believe the issue deserves closer attention. 

We say this because the number of cases before the Court involving repeated sex offenders are truly alarming. Clearly this is an issue that cannot be ignored forever.

Interestingly, just before the end of last year, the man who made the initial call for Samoa to establish a Sex Offenders Register a few years ago, brought the issue back onto the national agenda.

Justice Vui Clarence Nelson revived the discussion when he jailed a father found guilty of 13 counts of rape of his biological daughter.

The Court heard that the man was convicted and imprisoned in New Zealand in 2009 for indecently assaulting a female between the age of 12 and 16 years.  

Back in Samoa after he was sent back, the Court was told that the defendant treated his daughter like his wife.  He apparently imprisoned her in her own home and his behavior was rightly described by Justice Vui as sick.

What’s worse, when he was charged, he pleaded not guilty, which necessitated the complainant and her brother, his very own children, to relive the harrowing experience of a public hearing before a court room full of strangers.  

 “I find it astounding how a convicted sex offender deported from an overseas jurisdiction because of his offending, considered dangerous enough to warrant being accompanied to Samoa not by one but two police officers, can then be permitted to live freely and anonymously in our community with no restriction whatever,” Justice Vui said. 

“ With nothing in place to prevent possible reoffending.

 “This case once again highlights the need for a Sex Offenders Register for registration of serious sex offenders.  So that such offenders can be supervised and monitored post-release from prison. 

 “Irrespective of whether they are convicted and imprisoned in Samoa or elsewhere.  It seems to be a normal practice now that sex offenders convicted in overseas jurisdictions are being returned to Samoa upon expiry of their sentences.  

 “Then (they) are released back into an unsuspecting community which is blissfully ignorant of the criminal past of these people who walk and live among them.  This is the proverbial insertion of the wolf into the sheep’s den.”

Justice Vui could not have worded it better. 

Having said that, we acknowledge that protecting the human rights of an offender is obviously an important consideration. 

But we believe that must come second to the need to protect potential and innocent victims. 

The point is that a Register will not solve all our problems right away. 

Besides, what we want to do ideally is address the underlying drivers of sexual predatory behaviours so that sex offenders don’t offend at all. 

But this is the real world and we know from countless studies carried out around the globe that perpetrators of child sexual abuse rarely change their ways without treatment and therapy by trained professionals, and supported by some degree of monitoring in local communities. 

In other words because there is none of that available in Samoa, it is absolutely futile to hope and pray that these people will somehow change their ways. Which is why we believe the call by Justice Vui to establish a Sex Offenders Register is vital.

Come to think of it, why has it taken so long for the government to set this up?

What is so difficult about setting up something that will go a long way towards the protection of innocent women and girls?  

To be blunt, who cares about the rights of these sex predators when they are a risk to the community? We doubt anyone would want them to hang around their sisters or daughters. I certainly wouldn’t.

Ladies and gentlemen, we believe it’s time that this issue is taken very seriously to the point that something concrete is done about it. Let 2016 be the year when that happens. 

We have had enough of seeing our young girls being destroyed by these animals. What do you think? Write and share your thoughts with us! 

By Mata'afa Keni Lesa 06 January 2016, 12:00AM

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