26 Dec 2017

Samoa's PM says people who abuse freedom of speech will be dealt with

4:53 pm on 26 December 2017

Samoa's Prime Minister says the passing of the criminal libel law recently sends a warning that people who abuse freedom of speech will be dealt with.

Tuilaepa Sa'ilele Malielegaoi told the Samoa Observer that people hiding behind pseudonyms on blogs and social media pages should know they cannot hide forever.

Last week parliament approved the criminal libel act, which it had removed in 2013.

When asked how government plans to deal with overseas bloggers who criticize the government, Tuilaepa said there are lawyers who will deal with them.

He also deflected claims the aim of the criminal libel law was to cripple media who criticize the government.

Tuilaepa said the media has nothing to worry about if they stick to reporting the facts, he said of about 30 reporters in Samoa, only a few write inaccurate stories.

But he said their stories reach over 189,000 people (189,970) people in the country, adding his government's concerns lies with the people who are affected by the inaccurate information by some reporters.

He said some reporters continue to defame members of the public, by not only publishing inaccurate information but also publishing photos showing an ugly person or a photo about something that happened about 20 years ago.

Tuilaepa said the law affords the opportunity for low income families who are allegedly defamed to seek justice.

Samoa's PM Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi

Samoa's PM Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi Photo: RNZ / Sela Jane Aholelei