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Samoans asked if Samoa is safe

Saturday 23 July 2016 | Published in Regional


SAMOA – The 60 Minutes coverage of the rape of an Australian tourist in Samoa last year – that posed questions about the security of the country’s prison system – has raised questions about the safety of Samoa as a holiday destination.

The documentary news programme has reportedly caused a great deal of damage to efforts to promote Samoa to tourists in Australia.

The Samoa Observer took to the streets of Apia and asked local people what they thought.

They were asked, “do you think Samoa is still a safe destination for visitors? Why? Or why not?”

Sifuiva Esau said: “Samoa is still safe, and I still encourage tourists to come to Samoa.

“This incident is a wakeup call for our government, police and prison officers. This is something they should think about very deeply and it’s time for them to do something to these prisoners.

“Lauititi’s behaviour has affected our whole country and yet the incident could’ve been prevented if the people at prison did their job. Prisoners like Lauititi should be kept in a cell for two weeks without food or water.

“He should be taught a lesson and shouldn’t be given a chance to come out of jail at all. I am angry at him because he caused all the trouble and had ruined our country’s reputation.

“The government should build a new safe prison and have a high fence with security alarms to keep all these prisoners, so that our innocent people are protected from them and most importantly the tourists.

“Compared to all other Pacific Island countries, I think Samoa is still the safest place to visit.

Evita Vagana said: “I don’t think our country is safe anymore. I say this because our sisters and mothers are being raped almost every week. We see it on the newspapers and television and we hear it on the radio as well.

“It’s not like how it used to be. Some of our taxi drivers are taking advantage of our tourists and they can’t keep coming back if they know that that’s how they are treated here.

“We have so many new hotels here in Samoa, but what’s the point of having all the fancy and new hotels when we don’t have tourists?

“I think we all need to work together to avoid having these problems anymore in our country and to attract more tourists to visit Samoa. But again, I don’t think Samoa is a safe place now.”

Sala’a Foleni said: “A lot has been happening in our country, and judging from everything that’s been happening around our country in the past few months, I can say that Samoa is not safe at this moment for our tourists.

“We have so many unemployed youths roaming around town causing troubles in public places. They are not doing anything useful, and instead of staying at home with their parents, they are out on the streets stirring up troubles.

“Also, police are not doing a good job in keeping our country safe. And this is the truth. We can’t pretend that everything is fine. This incident was caused by a prisoner. He was out causing trouble, when he should’ve been locked up for all the bad things he has done.

“He has ruined the reputation of our country. And this shows that the security at the Tafaigata prison and also the policemen are not doing their job.

“I blame the police and the people at the Tafaigata prison. That was not the first time Lauititi broke out of prison and caused trouble, affecting the innocent lives of others. And even after he escaped twice, he still managed to escape again and almost killed a Chinese businessman.

“And the 60 Minutes interview with the Prime Minister was useful, because we need to address this issue. And our government should really think about it now. Also we need to work together as a nation to keep attracting more tourists to come to Samoa.”

Emma Scanlan said: “Samoa is still safe and it still is the most beautiful country. It is the best destination for tourists. And I encourage more tourists to come and enjoy our beautiful environment and unique culture.

“One person has made the damage and has affected the whole country and our reputation. But that doesn’t mean that we are all like that.

“We are a country founded on God and our people are very friendly. Therefore, I encourage more tourists to visit our beautiful Samoa, because it is still a safe place.”

Sio Fala’a said: “Samoa is still safe. I don’t know why people are saying that our country is not safe anymore.

“Yes, it was sad what happened to the couple from Australia and I feel sorry for them because of that. But that was just one incident. Our country is still beautiful and safe. Tourists should still continue visiting Samoa.”

Karene Esau said: “Samoa is still safe. This incident was caused by one person. It has affected our whole country and our reputation internationally, but I strongly believe that our country is still safe.

“We don’t know why this person did what he had done, maybe it was out of desperation, I don’t know. But this is something our police and prison should look at very carefully.

“If they want tourists to keep coming to Samoa, they should secure the safety of our people. Because tourists are our guests, and they contribute a lot to our economy.

“We should have a new strong fence and new prison to keep all the prisoners inside for the safety of our people and tourists. Other than that, I still believe that Samoa is one of the best tourist destinations in the world.” - Samoa Observer