Plan to equalise village fines
The Samoa Government is looking at standardising the rate of penalties leveled by Village Councils on residents for infractions.
The Minister for Women, Community and Social Development, Tuitama Dr. Leao Tuitama, revealed the equalisation proposal in an interview with the Samoa Observer.
“We are actually working on standardising the fines,” Tuitama said.
The Minister said there are different cases and each case is treated differently across villages.
“We have asked the respective villages to submit guidelines and policies they are implementing in the village [for fines] for our review on this matter," Tuitama said.
“We will also seek a legal opinion from the Attorney General whether the fines are appropriate. Once it is endorsed the villages will have to follow the guidelines which outlines fines for certain matters.”
The Minister noted the importance of having guidelines that can be used by Chiefs to guide their decisions.
He gave an example:
“When someone is fined 30 tinned cases which is equivalent to $1,500 families don’t usually bring the exact penalty we ask for.
“And some families are poor and they cannot afford the fine, they end up bringing forth two sows or $500 and the village council will accept considering the family’s situation.”
He said the vision behind the penalties and fines is to set precedent to assure people are law abiding citizens.
“We must set examples," the Minister said.
"The Village Council will not accept inappropriate behavior in the village. And that is the main issue."
The Minister said the Village Councils are lenient and generally accept whatever the family can present to the Chiefs as a matter of good faith, when fines cannot be paid.