UNICEF Chief Supports Registration Of Sex Offenders Deported Back To Samoa

Tupe Esera-Aumua says there is no guaranty convicted criminals will not reoffend

By Lagi Keresoma

APIA, Samoa (Talamua, June 14, 2017) – Sex offenders deported back to Samoa should be registered under a Sex Offender’s Register, as an act of safety and security for the children of Samoa.

This was the message from the Head of the United Nations International Children’s Fund (UNICEF) office for Tokelau, Niue, Cook Island and Samoa, Ms. Tupe Esera-Aumua.

“As much as we want to believe the offender has been rehabilitated, and then err on the side of safety and security, that is why it is good to have them registered,” she said.

Aumua said she believes that once a person has paid his due for a crime, then that’s it, but an offender coming into the country with no record, there is no guarantee that he will not re-offend.

UNICEF supports the initiative to register all sex offenders, especially when most of the victims of such offences are children.

She said the best thing about this project is the support from the Government. The idea of a sex offender register was suggested by Justice Vui Carence Nelson a few years ago following a case he presided, where a minor was sexually abused.

The report from a two years study was officially launched today by Prime Minister Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Sailele Malielegaoi, and will be tabled in Parliament when it reconvenes next week.

One of the recommendations in the report is that offenders convicted of a sexual offence outside of Samoa should be registered on the Sex Offenders Registered (SOR).

This should include:

  • Offenders convicted in a foreign jurisdiction of a sexual offence that constitutes a registrable offence in Samoa.
  • Offenders convicted in a foreign jurisdiction of a sexual offence, the elements of which, had they occurred in Samoa, would have constituted a registrable offence in Samoa.

Currently, the Transnational Crime Unit (TCU) and the Charitable Returnees Trust are the two focal contact points in Samoa for deported offenders.

The deported offenders are resettled with their families and placed under the Returnees rehabilitation project.

TCU gives limited information to the Charitable Organisation about the deportee, but does not disclose the deportees’ criminal record, even to the deportees’ families.

“This is not right, because in Samoan families, children run freely around the villages, and if a deportee is a convicted sex offenders, our children can easily become prey to the offender,” said Leuluaialii Mata Tofiga, a mother of five from Vaitele.

“Children are the most vulnerable because they do not know who to turn to when a parent does not believe them, or know methods or where to get help, and they must be protected,” said UNICEF’s Tupe Esera-Aumua.

Talamua
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