New policy to ensure violence cases not abandoned

By Talaia Mika 19 April 2023, 8:00AM

A new policy introduced by the Samoa Police, Prisons, and Corrections Services will ensure no domestic violence cases are abandoned, even if the victim wants to withdraw the complaint.

The "No Drop Policy" is part of the Family Violence Policy of the S.P.P.C.S. to combat domestic violence in the country, which continues to increase annually despite millions of Samoa Government and donor funding being earmarked on programs to tackle the issue. 

With the implementation of this policy, the Police are committed to pursuing cases of family violence to the fullest extent of the law, even if the victim no longer wishes to proceed. It is hoped the new policy will address cases where victims withdraw complaints due to fear or other family pressures.

The formulation of this policy, which has been described as a milestone, was made possible through various consultations with stakeholders. This includes the Australia Federal Police (AFP)-led Samoa Australia Police Partnership (SAPP), judicial members, the Samoa Police executive, the domestic violence unit, and the Samoa Victim Support Group (SVSG).

The first of its kind in Samoa, the purpose of this policy is to provide a clear pathway for victims of domestic violence, and police officers dealing with family violence incidents.

According to the Police, it is a significant step in securing the safety and well-being of families especially in preventing domestic violence.

"The theme of the policy is "Fa’asamoa, Faith, and Samoa Culture are not excuses for Family Violence" which reflects the need to challenge cultural beliefs that may enable or tolerate domestic violence," a Police Facebook post reads.

"Under the new policy, Samoa Police will respond promptly and professionally to all reported cases of family violence to ensure the safety and well-being of families and prevent reoffending. All members of the force are expected to effectively and efficiently carry out their duties in the implementation of the policy."

The policy was initiated by Assistant Commissioner Papalii Efo Moalele, who has worked to develop a domestic violence unit policy to guide police officers in the execution of their duties.

"Since my appointment as Assistant Commissioner, I have been advocating for the development of a domestic violence unit policy to provide guidance for police officers in carrying out their duties," Papalii said.

"I am pleased to see that our efforts have yielded fruitful results, and this achievement is a significant step towards ensuring the safety and well-being of our communities."

SAPP Policy Advisor Warren Johnston, who worked closely with the domestic violence unit to develop the policy commended Papalii and the team for reaching the milestone.

"The Family Violence Policy and Procedure has been developed and implemented to support the Samoa Police and victims of domestic violence in addressing incidents of family violence and accessing appropriate pathways for legal recourse or support," Mr. Johnston said. 

“Assistant Commissioner Papalii Efo played a pivotal role in driving the creation and implementation of this policy. We are pleased to announce the official launch of this policy."

The policy launch event took place last week and was attended by representatives from all four outposts, including Tuasivi, Asau, Vaitoomuli, and Fagamalo. As a part of the awareness, the Asau Outpost also performed a skit to illustrate the ongoing stigma surrounding domestic violence in Samoa and emphasised the need for action.

By Talaia Mika 19 April 2023, 8:00AM
Samoa Observer

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