Thursday, January 09, 2014

No freedom of speech in Samoa

The right to mock our elected officials is a fundamental of our democracy, something we take for granted. However, things are a little different in Samoa:

The family of a boy who made a video ridiculing Samoa's prime minister has been ordered to pay a fine of WST$10,000 (NZ$5200), 30 cartons of tinned fish and two cows.

The video, which was widely circulated by phone in Samoa and posted on Facebook, mocked Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa'ilele.

The chiefs of the village of Sili in Savai'i have made a traditional apology to the prime minister which included abasing themselves under mats before him.

The Ali'i ma Faipule - the high chiefs and orators of the village - brought the boy's family before their council this week and fined them, the Samoa Observer reported.

Anyone who spoke to the media would face an identical fine and if another video was made the family would be banished from the village, it said.

The Samoan Constitution affirms the right to freedom of expression. In practice, its a dead letter.