Monday, January 13, 2014

No freedom of speech in Samoa II

What happens if you mock the Prime Minister of Samoa? Last week, it was forced apologies and fines from an authoritarian village council. Now its escalated to criminal charges and imprisonment:

A teenage boy who took part in a video ridiculing Samoa's prime minister has been arrested and is being held in custody accused of using insulting words.

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


The Samoa Observer says police held the boy in custody over the weekend.

"The charges will be reviewed on Monday," acting police commissioner Misa Tala'imanu Keti said.

The boy has not been before a court and it was a police decision to hold him in custody.

The idea of denying bail for a bullshit charge like this is abhorrent. But that's what happens in authoritarian societies. I guess that mockery must have hit home.

Being thrown in jail for mocking those in power is one of the hallmarks of tyranny. Samoa simply is not a free country. New Zealand should reassess its foreign policy and diplomatic relationships accordingly.