District Court Judge wants police to be more vigorous in warning young offenders

By Rula Su’a – Va’ai

APIA, SAMOA – THURSDAY 11 JANUARY 2018: District Court Judge Fepulea’i Ameperosa Roma says the police are not using their powers to issue warnings against the offending youths of Samoa.

Judge Fepulea’i believes if the police would have been more vigorous on the use of their powers under the young offenders Act, the rising number of violence and sex crime reported to court could have been avoided or would have been reduced significantly.

Judge Roma made the call during a recent seminar on ending violence against women and children.

“In my own observation and personal view, the police are not using their power to issue warnings against the offending youths.”

“He said that sensitive and vulnerable matters affecting the youths and are reported to court can be reduced.”

However, police spokesperson Auapa’au Filipo Logoitino says it is hard for the police to issue warnings because there is no special referral place for the police to refer the youths to.

“We do not do warnings now as once they break the law, they will be charged accordingly,” said Auapa’au.

“Most offenders are the ones who have committed the same offence repeatedly and we feel enough is enough.”

Auapa’au further added the police commissioner has the power to charge or to warn.

“In cases where there is rape, the young offender will not be warned but charged under the crimes act.”

In terms of the Young Offenders Act, Auapa’au says this is more under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture and under the act, both the offender and the parents are liable.

This year, according to Auapa’au, the ministry is proceeding to consult with various government ministries in an effort to set up a referral centre for young offenders.

“Hopefully,” he says, “the wheels get rolling this year.”