When dangerous criminals run amok, what’s the point of having laws?

MK
By Mata'afa Keni Lesa, 22 January 2019

Listen up folks. This Government needs to stop meddling with other people’s business and concentrate on doing its job so the people of this country are protected from harm.

We say this because judging from what some of our leaders have been saying – and they have been saying an awful lot – they are so pre-occupied with petty issues when everyday in Samoa, the safety of our people is constantly under threat due to negligence and incompetence. 

For example, take the issue of prisoners escaping from Tafa’igata Prison at will, putting lives of members of the public at risk. 

This is not a new issue. It has been happening for as long as we can remember – except the frequency in which it has been occurring lately is extremely alarming. The fact is in Samoa; hardly a week goes by without reports of dangerous criminals waltzing away from Tafaigata’s gates and into the community – where they don’t belong. 

Let’s be reminded here and now that prisoners belong behind bars. That’s where the Court sent them to because they are criminals. In Samoa today, the prison system is almost a joke. We see more prison breaks in Samoa than anywhere else near and far. So much so it’s become so normal for people living on these shores to see this happening.

Anywhere else in the world, heads would be rolling. There would be an outcry of some sort with members of the public calling for blood. And yet here in Samoa, we’ve become so accustomed to it, we’ve just taken it on the chin and accepted it as normal. It’s just another day in paradise, right?

Wrong. This is not normal. And paradise shouldn’t be this way; a paradise is where everyone are supposed to feel secured and safe, especially in the sanctity of their own homes. That’s not what’s happening. We’ve seen murderers and rapists released into the community as part of their parole. Sometimes they just run away when they feel like it.

Over the years, Government officials, especially the responsible authorities, have shown a very relaxed attitude towards the issue. How can we forget a recent case where a notorious murderer was released into the community – only for the Minister responsible to defend the decision as if it was okay?

This is why the case of two more escaped prisoners this week – two very dangerous prisoners at that too – has become a bit too much. Something has got to be done.

Which brings us to the question of what has happened to the new multi-million-tala Prison facility at Tanumalala? Was that new prison not meant to be ready by the end of last year? And if and when it is finally ready, what guarantee do people of this country have that prisoners won’t just jump the fence and run away, like they are doing today?

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Here’s the thing, over the years, far too many members of the public have suffered as a result of this Government’s relaxed attitude towards the issue of prisoners.

Homes have been broken into, innocent members of the public have been assaulted, properties robbed and valuables to the tune of thousands of tala taken by force.

Let’s not forget the cases where visitors to this country were robbed, and in one particular instance, a woman was raped while her husband was forced to watch on. 

We can go on but we won’t. You get our drift.

The fact is that as long as these prisoners are on the loose, Samoa is not safe.

Let us remind this Government one more time today that members of the public are tired of being hurt by prisoners – who are either granted special permission to leave the prison gates, or prisoners who escape because it is so easy for them to do so.

Prisoners belong behind bars until they’ve done the time for their crimes. It is that simple. 

The irony of it all is that the law to keep people like thieves, rapists and murderers behind bars was created by Parliament. Yesterday Parliament held its first session for the year at the T.A.T.T.E. building. With the Supplementary budget being the focus of the discussion, wouldn’t it be nice if someone raised this issue as a matter of urgency? 

In Parliament, quite often far too much time is wasted on feel good speeches, which consists of 90 per cent dealing with traditional Samoan honorifics, five per cent thanking the same people they thanked last year, and the year before only to have the rest being of substance. 

We believe that this issue is of utmost importance, which Cabinet Ministers and Members of Parliament should drive and apply pressure to make sure this issue is resolved quickly – once and for all.

If prisoners are allowed to skip jail whenever they feel like, then what’s the point? Why do lawyers and Judges of the Court waste their time sending convicts to jail? What’s the use of a Judiciary system? Even worse, why waste money having a Parliament where laws are created? We repeat, we might as well just let the criminals run wild and free and let chaos reign. 

Which is what we don’t want.

So please Samoa, enough is enough!

MK
By Mata'afa Keni Lesa, 22 January 2019

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