Amnesty International, Amnesty International Report 1996 - Western Samoa, 1 January 1996, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6aa0b38.html [accessed 11 March 2014]
This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.
Two former parliamentarians were charged with sedition following non-violent political protests against the government. Two community leaders were charged with sedition in February on the basis of statements they had made at a peaceful demonstration in March 1994. Faamatuainu Tala Mailei and Toalepaialii Toesulusulu Siueva, leaders of a traditional group of chiefs, Tumua ma Pule, had spearheaded protests against the introduction of a new consumer tax. They were also instrumental in bringing the matter to the attention of the Head of State, Malietoa Tanumafili II, and in handing him a petition reportedly signed by 133,000 Samoans. The protests were apparently interpreted by the Prime Minister as a seditious act seeking the unlawful removal of the government. In February Amnesty International wrote to the government expressing concern that, if convicted and sentenced to prison terms, the two accused would become prisoners of conscience. In June the organization sent a trial observer to report on the case. When the trial opened at the Magistrates Court in June, the police prosecutor did not produce any evidence to support the charges. After his appeal for an adjournment was rejected, the case was dismissed and all charges were dropped. In a letter to Amnesty International in July the government expressed its appreciation of the organization's efforts for the protection of human rights in this case. Amnesty International remained concerned that, despite the court's decision, provisions on sedition in the Western Samoan Crimes Act could continue to be applied in a way that violated the constitutional right to freedom of expression.