Thursday, September 22, 2022

Hoist by his own petard

In 2017, in response to being criticised by anonymous bloggers, then-Samoan Prime Minister Tuila'epa Sa'ilele Malielegaoi restored the archaic colonial offence of criminal libel to Samoa's statute book, ramming it through parliament in under an hour. Now, he's being prosecuted under his own law [paywalled]:

Police have perused a file on a defamation complaint against the Opposition Leader and forwarded it to the Attorney General’s Office for review, as it has recommended the veteran politician be charged.


Police Commissioner Auapaau Logoitino Filipo said the investigation has been completed and referred to the Attorney General’s Office for review, when contacted by the Samoa Observer on Wednesday.

He confirmed that there are recommendations to press charges but it is subject to a review by the Attorney General’s Office.

But enjoyment at seeing a failed tyrant hoist by his own petard aside, this is bullshit. Defamation should not be a criminal offence. And that's even clearer when you look at what Tuila'epa is accused of:
Tuilaepa had accused Olo of ignoring Government policy and Treasury Instructions on the purchase of Government official vehicles when making purchases in Australia.

He claimed the Minister could have bought the vehicle locally at a discount price.

"Politician criticises other politician and accuses them of lying" is not something that should ever be any business of police. Samoa's new government should repeal Tuila'epa's law.