Media should play down sex crimes: P.M.
Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi, has slammed the media for reporting sexual crimes saying they depict Samoa in a negative light.
Tuilaepa made the comments during his weekly programme with 2AP when he was asked about the 84th Extraordinary Session of the Committee on the Rights of the Child hosted in Apia.
The Leader of the Human Rights Protection Party said the committee was held to remind parents of their duties relating to the welfare of their children.
Tuilaepa said he is surprised by local media reporting of sexual crimes involving fathers and daughters which makes it look like it’s a growing problem in the country.
“It doesn’t happen often but the problem is the media enjoys publicising these cases involving an elderly man doing filthy things to his daughter,” he said.
“The cases are probably nowhere near 10 in a year but it's being reported week in and week out.
“These reports are being read by those overseas and its sound like this is all that men in Samoa do from Monday to Sunday.”
The Prime Minister said when he sees reports being televised about sexual crimes he turns off.
He said that in New Zealand and Australia, there may be cases of similar nature, but they are not regularly reported on because the general public does not like to hear about them.
The Prime Minister also criticised comments made by a student during the session that his peers were being beaten up on a regular basis.
He said the student’s comments sounded like something that was rehearsed.
“This is what the people in the media are doing and it includes those that are in the programme [C.R.C.] who badmouthing the country,” he said.
Tuilaepa did not name anyone in particular but said those who are raising criticism have no pride in their country.
While the Prime Minister said he agrees that predation against children should be punished by the law he said too many reports were portraying Samoa negatively.
The Prime Minister urged the media to focus on reporting positive stories about successful individuals.
An example he used is reporting on fruits of a tree growing in front of the Government building and Police officers stepping in to instruct roads when the traffic lights are slow.
Asked on his view on the comments from the Prime Minister, Journalist Association of [Western] Samoa (J.A.W.S.) President, Rudy Bartley disagreed with Tuilaepa.
Mr. Bartley said it is the role of the media to report on issues of concern to the public.
“Some issues may not be favorable to some but reporting on it highlights the need for such issues to be addressed by Government and responsible authorities,” he said.
“In exposing such issues, this opens up discussion and possible solutions to these problems.”
The President of J.A.W.S. said raising awareness of such issues through media coverage is preferable to ignoring issues.
“The people's right to know is the driving force in finding solutions to many of the challenges that Samoa is facing,” he said.
“Exposing issues which may be unpopular is one way of making the Government act in finding solutions.”
Furthermore, Mr. Bartley disagrees with comments from the Prime Minister that such reporting casts Samoa in a negative light.
He said the reports show the world that Samoa will not tolerate abuse of children and offenders are being dealt with accordingly.
“This is a sign of a modern country taking decisive actions in dealing with the problem of child abuse," he said.
“This will surely give Samoa much respect and praise in the international arena.
“Exposing such crimes also provides a powerful deterrent to other offenders.”
Mr. Bartley added that providing a voice for the victims will empower others who are still suffering in silence to come forward and seek justice.
“This would not have been made possible without the media reporting on such stories,” he said.