Mother awaits Ombudsman’s report

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

Silafaga Tupito is desperate to know why the Office of the Ombudsman has denied her a full report of her case.

Ms. Tupito told the Samoa Observer she wants some answers.

“I went to them last week to ask if I could have a copy of the full report that they did on my case but they told me that I had to go find a lawyer to write a letter to them to release the report,” she said.

“This is unbelievable because this is not a lawyer’s matter this is my matter; I was the one who went to them and yet I have heard that the report has been given to police and other people but here I am waiting and they want me to get a lawyer?

 “Since when did we need to get an okay from a lawyer to get a full report of our own matter?

“I thought the Office of the Ombudsman will help us out but now I know nobody can help us unless we help ourselves.”

Ms. Tupito went on to say maybe if she was one of the rich people she would get what she is asking for straight away.

“They only gave me a two page letter but on the bottom of that letter it says attached is the copy of the report but there’s nothing,” she said.

“They think I’m stupid and I can’t read. It’s frustrating because I have every right to have a copy of my complaint.

“They look down on people like me because I’m poor and don’t have money.

“If I was rich I’m sure I would get what I am asking for in just a blink of an eye.

“It’s disappointing to see people like me treated this way because there is nothing we can do and it’s so hard to ask a lawyer to write a letter because nowadays with everything, money talks.

“So I can’t just walk up to a lawyer and say “hey can you write a letter so I can get my report” no because they will look at you as if I am  stupid.”

The 45-year-old said there are so many things that she needs to do and she won’t be able to do it without her report.

“It has been over a year since the incident and I’m telling you it stills haunt me and my children,” she said.

“Up until now the people of the village are still looking at me as if I’m a criminal and I am embarrassed about it especially for my children.

“One of my children is still being teased at in school by other students because of what happened over a year ago.

“So it might have been over a year since the incident, but the trauma is still there as if it had just happened yesterday.

“So it’s really hard to move on when you have nothing and nobody to go to.”

Ms. Tupito is begging the Office of the Ombudsman to allow her to have a copy of their full report.

“I need that report,” she said.

“I have been hearing that the police has a copy and yet the person who complaint does not have one.

“The Police Commissioner has already started back in his role and here I am still traumatised by what happened more than a year ago.

“It’s not easy because we are not living for free in this country and nothing is free so I hope that the Office of the Ombudsman will be able to help me with this matter.”

Contacted for a comment in regards to Ms. Tupito’s complaints a staff member of the Office of the Ombudsman who is not authorized to speak to the media, told the Samoa Observer that the only person who is allowed to speak of the matter is the Ombudsman himself.

“You will have to call back and book an appointment because I cannot say anything in regards to Silafaga Tupito’s case,” he said.

“I will let the Ombudsman know of the matter.”

In September 2015 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 by 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 and her children were treated. 

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 did so in the presence of a child.

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