Pacific News Briefs

FIGHT AGAINST DOMESTIC VIOLENCE MUST CONTINUE SAYS SAMOA AG

Be warned, Attorney General Lemalu Herman Retzlaff has put his weight behind the national call to eradicate domestic violence from Samoa. “The message from this office is clear, domestic violence of any kind is unacceptable and those who commit it where the evidence supports a charge will be prosecuted," says the Attorney General.

Lemalu’s comments follow his presentation to the Ombudsman's Commission of Inquiry into Domestic Violence late last week.

 In his presentation given on behalf of the prosecution legal service, the Attorney General stated that statistics show an increase in reported cases between 2012 and 2016.

 "Domestic Violence is alive and well in Samoa, and the fight against it must continue,” continued the AG.

Lemalu spoke of the “no drop” policy adopted by Samoa, “which states that once a complaint of domestic violence is made to police, the charge must be laid where evidence supports it and the matter prosecuted.

“That position persists even where a victim subsequently becomes fearful and seeks to withdraw the case,” he said.

For law enforcement, the Attorney General said, “…we commend the police force for their more recent hard work with their Domestic Violence unit that operates under difficult circumstances.”

He continued, “The social acceptance of domestic violence is still an issue and I am concerned that most instances of domestic violence is occurring in the extended family setting.

“This implies to me that the victims are particularly vulnerable in wider family settings where they may not necessarily have immediate family support at the time of the offending.”

(Source: MMPC)

TILAFONO ON THE HUNT

The writing was on the wall in 2012 that Samoa will host the Pacific and Global Summit now taking place at the TATTE Conference room this week.

And in the center of it all was, Tilafono David Hunter, Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries.

At the time Tilafono was wearing a different hat as Chief Executive for the Scientific Research Organisation of Samoa, (SROS).

 It was at a time where SROS had just successfully developed the gluten free breadfruit flour and on the hunt for investors and sustainable export markets.

The target was the lucrative US market using American Samoa as a gateway to the United States.

And following the 2Samoa Ulu Summit that year, a pact was inked for the 2 Samoas to collaborate in setting a pathway for Samoa’s breadfruit as an added value by product for exports.

In 2016, as CEO for Agriculture and Fisheries Tilafono with his former Minister Laaulialemalietoa Leuatea Polataivao Fosi attended the Ulu Summit in Hawai’i. And as predicted, Samoa’s bid to bring the Pacific and Global Breadfruit Summit to Apia was endorsed unanimously.

Now that experts from the Pacific and around the world are congregating in Apia, Tilafono is optimistic that the three-day meeting will produce positive results.

He is also mindful that the summit is twofold.

One, with over a hundred delegates attending the 2017 Pacific & Global Breadfruit Summit on the theme of “Home of the Ma’afala” — it translates to fresh money injected into the economy as tourism revenues.

And secondly, if Samoa’s breadfruit gluten free flour does get off the ground and secure lucrative markets, that spells money for the ulu growers, as well as our Gross Domestic Product and Foreign Reserves supported by research which found that the world market for gluten free flour products is in the multi-billion dollar neighborhood.

Tilafono is also mindful that for Samoa to realize the full potential of commercializing gluten free breadfruit flour, it needs support from its neighbors.

Samoa’s biggest obstacle is supply, as Samoa does not have the volume to sustain demand from its export outlets.

But with the Pacific and Global Summit in Apia, the Chief Executive is optimistic that a regional approach will be considered and adopted. 

(Source: MMPC)

SUSPENSION OVER PASSPORT PROBE

Samoa’s Immigration Office has suspended an Immigration employee while they investigate the alleged sale of Samoan passports online. 

David Nomereta Uaine, the suspended officer, confirmed the decision when the Samoa Observer contacted him. He said he was informed of his suspension yesterday. 

“They already told me about it,” Uaine said during an interview with the Samoa Observer over the phone. He declined to discuss the allegations against him.

“I have been defamed and I cannot say anything to the press,” he said. “I understand that I am already defamed so I don’t want to say anything at the moment… for the time being let’s wait for the outcome of the investigation… I just can’t comment about what happened, I just want to know who released the information to you.”

Last week, Attorney General Lemalu Herman P. Retzlaff, issued a ‘prohibition order’ for Uaine and a member of the public, Fitu Goshe. The order, leaked to the Samoa Observer, stops them from leaving the country while the investigation is in progress. 

Signed by the Attorney General, the order was addressed to the Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of the Prime Minister and Cabinet and Samoa Immigration, Agafili Shem Leo.

The alleged sale of passports was brought to the attention of the Immigration Office by the Samoa Observer, which led to the government launching their investigation into the allegations that someone is “selling Samoan passports” online.

According to the ‘prohibition order’ the suspects “are required to be available in Samoa as part of an investigation of a criminal offense punishable in Samoa by imprisonment of two years or more”. 

The issue came to light when an allegation was made in an email from one “Joanna Slewion”, which the Samoa Observer then referred to the Ministry of the Prime Minister and Cabinet as the Ministry is responsible for Immigration.

(Source: Samoa Observer)

FIVE MORE PEOPLE IN CUSTODY IN FRENCH POLYNESIA DRUG PROBE

Police in French Polynesia have taken a further five people into custody in an ongoing probe of a methamphetamine distribution network.

This comes a week after police seized a record 21 kilograms of methamphetamine.

In this week's raids, a further 100 grams of the drug was found as well as $US 600,000 in cash.

Several luxury vehicles have also been seized.

Last week, the prosecutor in Tahiti said methamphetamine was imported from the US where it was bought for between $US10 to $US30 a gram and then sold in Tahiti for $US 1,000.

Media reports said a key suspect is a tour guide who allegedly smuggled the drug, in part by giving some of it to unsuspecting fellow travellers.

Since the beginning of the year, 27 kilograms of the drug have been seized, implicating dozens of people in a number of cases.

(Source: RNZ)

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