“I will not hide in the shadow of the tree”
Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi
Remarks at the launch of report on Family Violence Inquiry
It gives me great pleasure to address you this morning to officially
The Samoa National Inquiry into family violence is the first of its kind ever undertaken in the Pacific. It is no small feat, and I would like to thank the Inquiry Commissioners and the Office of the Ombudsman which is also the National Human Rights Institution of Samoa, for taking on this tremendous task.
Most importantly I would like to thank the survivors, the village communities, relevant agencies, volunteers, donors and all others who contributed to the whole process and thereby making the compilation of this Report possible.
For very valuable assistance in terms of money and assistance in kind I must mention especially the Commonwealth Secretariat, UN Women, Asia Pacific Forum, U.N.D.P., U.N.F.P.A., Auckland University of Technology, Digicel and Bluesky.
The national inquiry was a Samoan effort to look at the problem in Samoa with a view to formulating Samoan solutions to a vexed problem that is troubling all societies in the world. The Inquiry was a nationwide conversation in which information and views were sought from all quarters. The aim in the dialogue always was to understand; not to condemn.
I have no doubt that the stories and testimonies contained in the Report will help to inform each and every Samoan on the nature and causes of family violence. They provide insight into ways to combat this social ill and to pave the way for Samoans to live in an environment and society that is free from violence and fear.
The issue of family violence and violence generally, is one which has come to dominate our news cycles in recent times. It has gravely impacted the lives of women and girls and has contributed negatively to the upbringing of our children.
We applaud the many programmes and innovative approaches implemented by our Courts, government agencies, foreign partners and voluntary bodies in past years. Despite this unrelenting effort in its totality, the problem grows worse.
Family Violence in Samoa as the Report highlights, sits behind a veil of silence which allows it to continue to menace the lives of our people especially the most vulnerable among us. It violates the core principles and values of faaaloalo, va taup’ia, and alofa among others, which are the essence of our Faasamoa and Faith. More importantly, it violates our rights as Samoans to be free from violence as guaranteed by our Constitution. For too long, these values that we cherish the most have been undermined and trodden under foot.
Samoa has come a long way in being able to talk about issues of family violence and that is no small feat. Now, the time for talking has to be over. After reading this Report, I hope and urge that we together take action to address this issue head on at last. It is time; and we can do it. Let us not shirk our duty to future generations of Samoans. We can reclaim and strengthen our social fabric for future generations to know, enjoy and take pride in true faaSamoa and genuine Christianity. In doing so we will show the world what can be achieved by resorting to a combination of cultural and religious values strengthened by the international human rights framework.
As the leader of Samoa, I call upon everyone – our political leaders, traditional and religious leaders, fathers, and families to acknowledge the widespread pain and suffering in which we are all complicit. Blame does not fall on the perpetrators alone. We all are party to a degree. Unknowingly, the seeds for this sad state of affairs have been sowing for many generations past.
Now, for the sake of the future, it is up to us and especially those in positions of power to stand up and be counted – to demonstrate our dedication to the fa’a-Samoa and Christian values upon which this country is founded.
Enough is enough! It is time for us all to stand together for the sake of our future generations and say:
• ‘OU TE LĒ ALO I LE ATA O LE LA’AU’ – I will not hide in the shadow of the tree. Let the truth be out and right be done.
I now officially launch the “National Public Inquiry into Family Violence Report 2018.” Fa’afetai ma ia manuia!