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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center

With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

Sex Offender Registry Strongly Supported In Samoa
Support group says public must be aware of offenders

By Kolotita Talatalaga

APIA, Samoa (Samoa Observer, Feb. 2, 2013) – The Supreme Court of Samoa’s call to set up a registry for sex offenders has been strongly supported.

Most vocal about the idea is the President of the Samoa Victim Support Group (SVSG), Lina Chang, who says the idea is long overdue.

But Ms. Chang doesn't just want a registry for the sake of it.

"We should take the photos of these people and make them known to everyone," she told the Samoa Observer. "It would be an effective way to protect other young victims. These offenders prey on children in different villages and people do not know the kind of people they are living next to."

Earlier this week, Supreme Court Justice, Vui Clarence Nelson said it was about time for the Government to consider setting up a registry of sex offenders.

He made the point during the sentence of a child molester who he has jailed twice for molesting two 7-year-old girls on different occasions.

Justice Vuisaid the behavior of the defendant – and other repeated sex offenders – suggests that "it may be such time for sex offenders to register so that people know what kind of people are around their children."

Ms. Chang could not agree more. As a matter of fact, she wants the law to be taken further. She says it’s about time the Court stops granting name suppressions for the sex offenders and child molesters.

"Especially re-offenders," she said. "To offend once is bad; but to keep doing it to innocent children is inexcusable. We need to do everything we can to stop these people from hurting innocent people; especially young children."

"Their photos need to be put somewhere everyone can see; to alert the community so they can keep their children safe."

Ms. Chang believes name suppression ‘protects’ the offender, hiding their agendas from the public.

"When they are granted name suppression, the public do not know who they are. A person may read about a case concerning a child molester and not know that it is their next door neighbor. There needs to be some changes."

Ms. Chang said the number of young victims the SVSG works with is "heartbreaking."

"Sometimes we feel lost about what to do… It can be overwhelming," she said. "We have different children who have been raped or molested by the same offender. It has to stop. Maybe by registering sex offenders and child molesters and putting their photos up for everyone to see, we will see some changes."

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