15 Mar 2012

Law proposes change to Samoa chiefly titles

1:17 pm on 15 March 2012

A new law tightening controls over Samoa's chiefly titles has passed its first reading in parliament.

Our correspondent says the government is concerned about too many people with titles moving overseas, when the role of the chiefs is to look after families in Samoa.

Autagavaia Tipi Autagavaia says the Land Titles Amendment Act 2012 aims to raise the status of the matai title by raising the eligibility age to 25, but granting exceptions for those over 21 who meet cultural criteria.

He says the new legislation also proposes stripping the honour if a person has brought shame to the family.

"Especially when a matai, when someone holding a chiefly title has been convicted in court of any sexual crime, which is a very serious crime, he should be stripped of that title because if he still continuing serving punishment in jail still carrying the title, it's not really a good thing for the extended family here."

Autagavaia Tipi Autagavaia says the legislation is due to be debated at the next session of Parliament at the end of March and the public will then be able to voice their opinions to the Bills Committee.