AG says in fairness, NPO not appropriate to prosecute Police Commissioner matter

 

Samoa’s Ministry of Courts Administration, Mulinu’u

APIA, SAMOA – TUESDAY 06 SEPTEMBER 2016: The Office of the Attorney General has responded to concerns raised regarding the engagement of independent prosecutors in the matters before the Court that refer to the (suspended) Police Commissioner, and Director National Prosecutions Office.

“Public  interest dictates that where the heads of government  departments  that are to undertake  law enforcement  in Samoa,  are involved  in cases  particularly  where  charges were  brought  by the two departments  against each other at the same time, all steps  must be taken  in transparency  and good governance to ensure that justice is not just done, but is also seen to be done,” says the AG’s statement.

“An arrangement was previously reached between the Minister of NPO, with the heads of the relevant departments, that the file related to charges against the suspended Police Commissioner, was to be subject to an independent prosecutor being engaged on the advice of Attorney General’s Office. The Acting Director of NPO has subsequently stated that this arrangement will not be followed.

“The Attorney General’s office now has updated instructions in response to that position:  the Hon Minister of NPO, and further confirmed today by the Acting Prime Minister, take the view, that it is not appropriate for NPO to prosecute this matter. The investigation that led to the charges against the Commissioner was said to have been undertaken by the NPO without proper notice or authorisation of the police.  This was confirmed today by the Acting Commissioner of Police. Therefore, given the surrounding matters related to these charges, a party other than the NPO should take carriage of that particular file.

“Further, as there is an independent prosecutor undertaking the matter against the suspended Director of NPO, fairness dictates that the same should apply to the other matter.

“As  to  the  civil  matter:  the  Attorney  General’s  Office  to  safeguard  government   is  seeking  an appropriate adjournment of the related civil matter, until all criminal  proceedings are fully completed, so that it has no bearing and conflict on the proper process that should be followed in these cases.

“The  National  Prosecution  Act  states  that  any  prosecution  of  a  matter  must  be  done  in  a  fair, independent  and  objective  manner. The  right  hand  of  law  enforcement   cannot  be  seen  to  be prosecuting its left, without those requirements being followed.

“The position  of the Attorney General’s office and government  therefore, is that  both these matters, should  be given carriage, to persons, outside of the government agencies directly involved. There is otherwise  no wish to be involved in any of the criminal  proceedings  themselves,  only to ensure that they are conducted on the basis of fairness and objectivity.”