Police prosecutors return to A.G.'s office
The Minister of Police and Prisons, Tialavea Tionisio Hunt, has confirmed that prosecutors within the Ministry of Police and Correction Services will return to work with the Attorney General’s office.
“These Police Officers are prosecutors [and] therefore need to assist the A.G.’s office in prosecuting criminal matters in the District Court,” he said.
“At the end of the day it’s about serving justice and the Police play a vital role in ensuring that justice is served in this Country.”
Last month, Attorney-General Savalenoa Mareva Betham Annandale expressed concern the criminal justice system could be left under-resourced, when Police prosecutors were reassigned to other divisions of the Ministry.
“The list of matters in the District Court is over 500 plus and there are five prosecutors for District Court,” said Savalenoa.
“[Existing prosecutors] can’t handle that on their own they need the [Police] prosecutors.”
But Tialavea told the Samoa Observer the prosecutors are well equipped for their work laod.
“[I am] not sure how many Police prosecutors we have at the moment; but I do know they are certified to do the work. And now it’s only a matter of time before they move back to the [Attorney-General’s] office,” he said.
Savalenoa had told the Samoa Observer there are not enough prosecutors for the District Court and the Police also have a role to play.
“I hope we can revisit the issue of Police prosecutors taken off their duty to prosecute,” she said.
According to Savalenoa, in 2013, a National Prosecution Office was established and amendments to the Constitution were made along with an Act that made prosecution the sole responsibility of that office.
“And everything that was with the [Attorney-General] for prosecution was handled there,” Savalenoa said. “However when the [National Prosecution Office] was dissolved the act was repealed the Police prosecution continued working however I understand as of last Friday the Police took them back.
“The Police do have a role to play in the prosecution of certain matters because we don’t have the capacity in terms of numbers available to prosecute at the moment.”
Savalenoa also told the Samoa Observer aside from this, their office works closely with the Police in terms of reviewing the files and determining what charges need to be filed and if any.