Move to reinstate corporal punishment in Samoa questioned

corporal punishmen

Samoa’s ombudsman and a supreme court judge say they’re at a loss as to what has motivated a move to reinstate corporal punishment in Samoa’s high schools.

Samoa banned the use of corporal punishment in 2013.

But a proposed amendment to the Education Bill 2009, section 23, would allow teachers in schools to use reasonable force to discipline children.

Ombudsman Maiava Iulai Toma, who heads Samoa’s Human Rights Institution, says he doesn’t understand the motivation for change.

Last week, in its capacity as the country’s national human rights institution, his office made a submission to the Parliamentary Social Committee.

The submission proposed deferring a vote on the amendment until parliament and the government have had the opportunity to consider an inquiry report and its recommendations due for release this month.

Justice Vui Clarence Nelson says he’s at a loss as to why the Ministry of Education is pushing the bill.

“Nobody seems to understand the reason behind the pursuit of this amendment to the Education Act,” Nelson says.

“This law is a retrograde step. We’re going backwards.”

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi has downplayed concerns that the use of “reasonable force” in schools is a step backwards for Samoa.

In July, during his weekly programme with the media, the Prime Minister said the amendment was in response to requests from the public.

“At times when fights break out between schools, the students don’t even care about the presence of police officers at the scenes, they continue on fighting and they sometimes fight the officers.

“And after those fights I’ve had people visit me in my office, asking the Government to bring back corporal punishment to teach the students lessons – and this is love,” he said.


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News category: Asia Pacific.

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