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Trouble in paradise? A safe community ultimately depends on you and me

There is definitely trouble in paradise after a month of celebration that is the 2019 XVI Pacific Games. The gruesome discovery of the body of a pastor and a woman. The death of a mother allegedly at the hands of her husband. A man jailed for close to seven years for sexual assault. And a man disappeared at a resort recently after he went out for an early morning swim.

Not forgetting prison escapees and convicted criminals, 29-year-old bank robber Pati Chong Nee and 59-year-old Suitupe Faamoe Paufai, who are still on the run from the authorities after dashing for freedom in January and May this year.

The Commissioner of Police Fuiavaili'ili Egon Keil and his policemen and women have copped the brunt of the criticism, and have been slammed for not doing enough to keep citizens and residents safe.

But the Police can only do so much, in their goal to rid the community of crime, and promote a peaceful and violence-free life within the community. At the end of the day, every man, woman and child is responsible for their own actions and how they conduct themselves and relate to others.

With Suitupe and Chong Nee on the run for close to seven months, there is no doubt that they are being assisted by members of the public, ensuring that they continue to evade the authorities including the Police and remain at large in a country with a landmass of only 2,842 square kilometers.

Fuiavaili'ili in March this year warned the public against harbouring criminals, saying those found to be harbouring fugitives from the law will be charged and prosecuted.

“We are still looking for him and of course our main goal is to get this guy back. It is very unfortunate and we are getting information that he is either going back deep in the woods or someone is harbouring him,” said the Police Commissioner back then.

"Just a word to those harbouring the individual, if we do find out you have been harbouring this individual, you will be charged as well.”

Four months after Fuiavaili'ili released his statement to warn the public, the two convicted criminals remain at large, and continue to make a mockery of the effectiveness of the local law enforcement agencies. 

The refusal to hold ourselves accountable and respect the rule of law is one reason behind the degenerative state of law and order in this island paradise, consequently a sudden increase in violent crimes that would not normally be associated with a state that professes to have built its foundations on God and Christianity.

No one saw the story of commercial farmer Peter Tulaga and the viciousness of his actions targeting his partner Frysna Rimoni coming, until the sordid details were revealed in court proceedings that resulted in his sentencing to 28 years for attempted murder.

The Police Commissioner and his policemen and women need our help – they cannot do it alone – law and order should be everyone’s business. You and me. Not just staff and employees of law enforcement agencies. We all need to work together to make our communities safer.

We believe justice should take its course, in relation to the deaths of the pastor and the woman as well as the gender-based violence case. And if we are aware of members of the public harbouring fugitives, who are on the run from the law, we have a responsibility to report it and turn them in. 

And with Samoa’s famous Teuila Festival scheduled for the first week of next month, it is important that we give our international visitors a level of confidence and hospitality, which would commensurate with the occasion.

Have a lovely Thursday Samoa and God bless.

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