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Samoa looks at pros and cons of sex offenders registry

A proposed bill to consider whether the country should put in place a sex offenders register will be submitted to the government to see if Samoa needs one or not.Samoa Law Reform Commission is currently working on consultation with stakeholders to decide whether the country should draft the proposed law.During a weekly programme with 2AP Radio Station, Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi said there are different perspectives on the idea of a sex register.He explained that “Others believe that if it happens it will discriminate people with this illness”. “The matter was raised by a Judge that became concerned and suggested that we needed a register to record all the names of people who are convicted and have this illness of incest.”“So the government is waiting for the committee that was assigned to draft the bill when their works is done.”Drafting of a bill for a sex offenders’ register takes place against a background of wide concerns about continued impact on victims in a small society, including concerns reported by the Commission itself.The call for a sex offenders’ register came from Supreme Court judge, Justice Vui Clarence Nelson when he sentenced a 45-year-old man to three years in jail.The offender was charged for indecent assault on a 7-year-old in December 2012 and was also convicted and sentenced in 2009 for the same offence.“It may also be such time for sex offenders in this country to register so that people may know what kind of people are around their children,” said Justice Vui.“It is clear that this defendant learnt nothing from the first time and the chance for re-offending is high.”According to a discussion paper on the sex register, the Samoa Law Reform Commission received a reference on 5 February 2013 from the Attorney General, Aumua Ming Leung Wai.It stated that the reference asked the commission to assess whether “it is appropriate in the context of Samoa to have a sex offenders’ register; and whether such a register would help in the reduction of sexual re-offending.”In a recent interview, Executive Director of the Commission, Leilani Tuala-Warren said they were studying other countries that had sex registers and how they handle them.She pointed out that there are some concerns regarding the Samoan culture and how it will affect the offender and their families.There are also concerns expressed in the report that such registers simply do not work.“Based on studies undertaken in the USA, a sex offenders’ register does not address the root of the problem,” reads the discussion paper.