“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, according to a government release.
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.
"Samoa has a no drop policy 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.
“The policy as it is, is not perfect, but its purpose is to let victims know that if they have the courage to come forward, there will be action, that action will persist and they will be assisted as much as possible.
“The goal is to then make the appropriate submissions to the Family Courts referring to deterrence, accountability as balanced with any appropriate rehabilitation options available,” Lemalu added. “All serious cases of high level violence and sexual violation will by law be dealt with automatically at the Supreme Court level.”
For law enforcement, the Attorney General says that, “We must create an environment where a Domestic Violence complainant feels protected from the moment they have made the difficult decision to approach police for assistance, through to seeking alternative protective methods of giving evidence in the Court room.
“In that regard we commend the police force for their more recent hard work with their Domestic Violence unit that operates under difficult circumstances.
“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.”
On that note, the AG reiterated, domestic violence of any kind is unacceptable and the law will be implemented to the letter by his office.
Photo by MPMC Press Secretary. Caption Attorney General Lemalu Herman Retzlaff before the Ombudsman’s Commission of Inquiry into Domestic Violence