SAMOA TO RECONSIDER ARCHAIC WITCHCRAFT LAW

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Supreme court dismisses case without merit

APIA, Samoa (Samoa Observer, Nov. 17, 2009) – The offence of witchcraft is to be closely examined by Samoa’s Law Reform Commission.

The Supreme Court in Samoa has just dismissed a case alleging witchcraft after the prosecution failed to produce evidence to prove the charge.

The Commission’s director, Leilani Tuala told Radio New Zealand International the charge of witchcraft falls under an archaic 1961 crimes ordinance, which was adopted from New Zealand’s law when Samoa was preparing for independence.

She says traditional practices, like massage or the role of the spiritual healer, the taulasea, could technically be classified as witchcraft under this old law.

"Under the current law, it could be caught under that," she said.

"Because it’s any kind of witchcraft, sorcery, enchantments, and telling of fortunes. So this is the first time we’ll be able to see whether the local practice of the fofo, which is the massage, the taulasea, the faipele, and the faipele is really a sort of form of telling fortunes, whether that sort of thing will come under it."

Ms Tuala says the commission will then make recommendations to the Government if law reform is needed.

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