Samoa’s Justice Vui raises concerns about Police interview procedures

Samoa’s Supreme Court Judge, Justice Vui Clarence Nelson has expressed concerns about interview procedures that police officers are required to follow.

The matter was highlighted after a heavily pregnant woman who was allegedly beaten by her partner collapsed at the police station.

Police officers took the woman from the hospital to the police headquarters to record her statement.

On the 5th day of trial last Friday morning, Court proceedings focused on defendant, whose mother had placed the 911 call to Police on the night of December 26th, seeking help for her daughter who was allegedly being beaten by her partner.

The woman is eight months pregnant.

Her mother took the stand and told the Court that she had called Police for help when she visited her daughter at Faatoia that night, and heard her screaming out for help.

Justice Vui also directed questions to Constable Faletoi, wanting to know if there was a process or special procedure applied by Police when interviewing abused, pregnant women. The Constable answered, No – everyone taken in to make statements are treated the same.

In obvious disbelief Justice Vui again asked the Constable; outlining the circumstances of a woman eight months pregnant, abused and in pain, who had also collapsed while in police custody..

Constable Faletoi said she was only following instructions from her leaders.

“That is amazing!” said Justice Vui when the Constable told the Court that the pregnant woman was brought back to Police Headquarters at 1.30am for an interview.

“Didn’t any one of you think that a woman who is 8 months pregnant, with injuries, who had also fainted, should not be given time to rest?”

The issue emerged during the Supreme Court hearing of five defendants facing narcotics-related charges.

Ana Fuimaono (Vaiusu), Esther Tani (Tufuiopa), AJ Roache (Lotopa), Stuart Tuitama (Faleasiu), Pitoitua Aloese (Faatoia) and Sanele Schuster (Alamagoto) were all arrested when police responded to a domestic violence complaint on Boxing Day last year.

Police Commissioner Su’a Fuiavailiili Egon Keil said he acknowledges the concern of the Supreme Court Justice and confirmed that there are systems in place within the Domestic Violence Unit of the Samoa Police, dedicated to investigate DV cases.

“There are established guidelines and laws for all officers to follow on the various types of investigations they face on a day to day basis, which also includes DV cases; and the treatment of suspects, victims, and witnesses,” said Su’a.

The Police Commissioner says continuous education is another key priority for Police and one of the ways to address such lapses.

“There are continuous enhancement courses from time to time on new policies, procedures, and statutes; and new recruits are taught in the 15-week police academy on many police requirements;

“However, if everything else fails them…there is always common sense”, added Commissioner Keil.