Samoa’s Supreme Court sends stern message to protect children

The Supreme Court in Samoa has issued a stern message that it will take a tough stand against offenses where there has been breach of trust.

The warning came as a 53 year old man was sentenced to 12 years imprisonment for raping a relative.

The victim was 12 years old when the offense was committed in the accused’s home in 2015.

The accused, who has six children, was found guilty and sentenced by Justice Tafaoimalo Leilani Tuala-Warren this week.

The court heard the victim was raped twice in the home.

The accused was described as caring and humble, supportive of his family and active in their village matters.

He was also described as active member of the church holding positions within the church and belonging to one of most devoted families in the congregation.

In his testimonial, the village mayor said the accused is a matai of the village who is reliable and knowledgeable in village and family matters.

The court heard the victim has stopped attending school and she is afraid of the accused.

In reading out the aggravating features of the crime, Justice Tafaoimalo said the offending was a breach of trust between the accused and the victim.

 She said the victim was 12 years old and the younger the victim of a sexual offense the greater the need for protection.

The age difference of 39 years between the victim and accused and the fact that they are closely related were also aggravating matters noted by the judge.

Justice Tafaoimalo said the accused was given a responsibility to the victim as the victim lived with his family and attended school. He was expected to protect her but instead he took advantage of that power and has caused extreme pain and sufferings to the child who was under his protection.

“The breach of trust in this case is significant.”

During her decision, Justice Tafaoimalo sent out a strong warning with the sentence.

 “This is to protect the community from the accused,” she said.

  “This protection is particular for the children who are the most vulnerable members of any community," she said