5 November 2020, Apia Samoa. A 14 year old boy from Falevao has died from injuries sustained after his father used a ‘amo’ or tree branch, to beat him.
Responding to questions from Samoa Global News, Deputy Police Commissioner Papalii Monalisa Tiai-Keti confirmed that a 62 year old male of Falevao and Falefa has been arrested and remains in custody to await his first court appearance later this month.
The boy was admitted to the Tupua Tamasese Meaole (TTM) National Hospital at Motootua last Thursday 29th October and died five days later, on Tuesday this week.
“The incident happened on the 29th October and the child died on the 03rd of November”, confirms Papalii.
Head of the Criminal Investigation Division Auapaau Logoitino Filipo says preliminary findings are that a rock hit the back of the boy’s head, and that he was also beaten with a amo.
The amo is a large tree branch used to balance heavy loads across one’s shoulders, often used to carry produce back from plantations.
“Na togi e lona tamā i le maa, tau i le muliulu, toe alu atu sasa i le amo”.
Samoa ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) in November 1994 and despite a relatively robust legal framework that seeks to protect children from violence, available data indicates that children in Samoa experience violence in
several contexts, including within the home, in schools and in the community.
In a 2017 UNICEF situational analysis report on Children in Samoa it is stated that 41% of school children reported being physically hurt by a teacher at school while 77% of parents reported using physical violence to discipline their children.
The Office of the Ombudsman’s National Public Inquiry into Family Violence Report published in 2018 found that, “Physical, harsh verbal discipline, violence and sexual violence towards children has reached epidemic levels”.
• 9 out of 10 children in Samoa experience violence in their lifetime;
• Physical discipline/violence is often extreme in nature, going way beyond what is ‘reasonable punishment’ under Samoan law;
• Sexual abuse of children and incest levels have reached ‘epidemic’ proportions in Samoa.
During a recent pilot project by the Office of the Ombudsman working in six rural villages across Upolu and Savaii, the use of extreme violence towards children was found to be an established cycle, where parents were themselves beaten, and acted in the only way they knew how, in order to discipline their own children.