14 March, 2019, 6:29pm – Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Justice and Court Administration (MJCA) Papalii John Taimalelagi has made it clear that media are in fact, allowed to take photos and videos inside the court room, as long as official Court proceedings have come to an end.
Papalii further clarified that during official court proceedings, it is the current practice of the Court, that videos and photos are not permitted to be taken.
He told Samoa Global News that the media would have to adhere to any Court Orders issued by the Court to suppress the names of the people involved in the matter.
Earlier today in Court during Filipaina and Ovaleni’s hearing, a reporter from Newsline took photos of the two defendants when the court was in recess. A police officer on duty demanded that the reporter delete her photos in front of him, telling the reporter that she would be charged if she did not do so.
“E le faakaga oga pu’e gi aka i kokogu o le poku faamasigo;
“Afai ae sau lau aka lega i luga o le gusipepa e molia ai oe.”
The reporter then deleted all photos that she had taken of the two defendants.
Papalii said that the only time the police officer or court orderly has the right to take anyone’s camera or phone away is when someone is taking photos while Court is in session.
“Sei vagana ai la o la e silafia e le leoleo e lei mae’a proceedings e iai la le power a le leoleo ona o lona ia lena tiute i totonu o le court as a court orderly i le taimi lea o lae lei uma proceedings.
“Ae a faapea la o la ua uma proceedings ma ua taape le court, then if you want to take photos i totonu o le court room, that’s okay that’s allowed as long as court proceedings are done.”
The CEO was also asked about defendants who are held in custody and are not allowed to come outside after their matter is being called. Is the media permitted to take their photos while inside the court? Papalii confirmed that it is okay as long as there is no suppression order from the Court.
“Seiloga foi la e iai se suppression order mai le fa’amasinoga e fa’asa ai ona pu’e ata o latou o loo molia, o lesi la lena mafuaaga.”
He added, this is one of the things the Ministry is working on to set clear guidelines, whether it be a policy or regulation for media to follow.
“O le mea foi lena o lea e galulue ai le matagaluega i le taimi nei e faamanino se tulafono poo se taiala e faataoto ai tulaga o mea faapenei i totonu o le faamasinoga.
“Especially pe afai o loo proceed le Court. Ae o le tulaga a ia, a faapea ua maea taualumaga o le faamasinoga, ou te iloa e leai se mafuaaga e faasa ai ona pue ata i le taimi lena.
“Seia vagana ai ua iai se order mai le Court for suppression – ona tatau lea i le media ona adhere to whatever Order e aumai e le Court – e tatau lava ona mulimulitaia.”
“Ae ou te le o iloa la i leoleo poo le a le tulaga o loo base iai le latou ia mau.”
Papalii reminded that the media has a right to ask the police officer to site the law under which they would be charged.
Papalii confirmed that it is not a law, but a current practice of the Court not to allow anyone to take photos while court is proceeding.
“E le o iai se tulafono e faasa ai ona pue ni ata poo videos during proceedings, but it is a current practice ua leva ona iai soo se sitting lava a le Court, e le mafai ona pueina se ata.
“But that current practise, we are trying to put into the form of a regulation or act.”