Photo: Samoa’s Ministry of Justice and Courts Administration, Mulinu’u.
By Lagi Keresoma
APIA, SAMOA – 24 JULY 2020: Supreme Court Judge, Vui Clarence Nelson has questioned why it took seven months for police to question a 25 year old male who has been sentenced to 8 years in jail after pleading guilty to 2 counts of sexual connection.
The incident happened in June 2019 at one of the villages of Lefaga and Faleaseela district.
The defendant has previous conviction but due to a different nature of offence he was charged with, he was treated as a first offender.
The complainant is a 13 year old boy from the same district who kept the incident to himself for fear of the threats by the defendant.
However, the second time the defendant forced himself of the boy, he then told his mother who lodged a complaint with the Faleata police outpost.
Justice Vui Clarence Nelson issued a suppression order on the names of the people involved in the media, social any media platform.
Police Should Treat All Complaints Equally
In passing sentence, Judge Vui emphasized the need for police to treat all complaints equally and not just homicide matters.
Vui’s statement was based on the delay on the part of police in questioning the defendant on 2 charges of sexual connection with a 13 year old boy on 4 June 2019.
The case was reported to police 6 June 2019 and police only brought in the accused for questioning on 8 January 2020.
“If the summary of facts is correct and the matter was reported to the Faleata Police on the 6 June 2019, I am at a loss to understand why the Police took seven (7) months to question the defendant.
He further stated that “complaints of a sexual nature involving a possible sexual assault on a 13-year-old should be accorded the same priority as a homicide or a conspiracy to commit a homicide.”
He informed prosecution that a copy of his sentencing remarks will be sent directly to the police Commissioner to review this particular case so that some light can be shed on this issue.
Which is more appropriate? – Unlawful sexual connection or Rape.
Judge Vui also drew the Prosecutions attention to the wording of the charges. The defendant pleaded guilty to 2 counts of unlawful sexual connection.
He said after reviewing the police summary of facts, he noted that the more appropriate wording of the charges should have been ‘rape’ an appropriate description of what occurred.
Vui further said that perhaps the problem is due to the definition of ‘rape’ under the current law which does not include forced anal intercourse by one male upon another, and he thought it was an issue for the Samoa Law Reform Commission to consider an amendment to it.
“Because it is now a recognized fact that forced anal sex between males is as much ‘rape’ in every sense of the word,” said Judge Vui.