The move by the Vaimoso Village Council to ban drugs and penalise families caught with any drug connection has been praised by the Ministry of Police.
Police Superintendent and Media Spokesperson, Auapa’au Logoitino Filipo, on behalf of the Commissioner, Fuiavaili’ili Egon Keil and Management, thanked Vaimoso for taking the lead and stepping up to battle drug problems in Samoa.
“This initiative couldn’t have come at a better time and this type of leadership in the villages is crucial,” said Auapa’au.
Last week, the Vaimoso Village Council made it clear they have zero tolerance for any drug use in the village.
The Village Council will also ensure that any family caught with any drug dealings is reported to the Police so they can be dealt with.
This was confirmed by Committee Chairman of Policies for Vaimoso’s Village Council, Aulavemai Asiata Tafito during an interview with the Samoa Observer.
Auapa’au said the Village Councils have a huge role to play in terms of deterrence, ensuring the safety of the people and a drug free village.
“What better way to reduce drug-related harm than to have the Chiefs involved in implementing punishment for deterrence.
“We support the engagements by the Vaimoso Village Council and we also believe that other villages should heed current move.
“However the law is the law and that people should leave the law to the Police,” cautioned Aupa’au.
He believes the Police and the Village Councils should work together to ensure the safety of everyone.
“The increase presence of drugs should be targeted by the Village Councils and it should be eliminated. “We can’t do it alone and we need all the help we can get from the Village Councils,” said Auapa’au.
In an interview with the Samoa Observer, Aulavemai said the initiative started as a result of our first Village Council meeting held in early January, 2018.
“The efforts put in place are to keep Vaimoso residents safe and peaceful. “Our new policies are not limited to just penalising the family, but it is mandatory that we take the matter to the appropriate authorities such as the Police.”
A former Member of Parliament, Aulavemai, says he accepts that the decision is extreme.
“This was somewhat hard to accept, but when considering what is at stake, the safety of the families of Vaimoso is paramount to us as chiefs in charge of overseeing the village,” said Aulavemai.
“Classic example is we can oust anyone who does not heed our policies, however they will become a problem of another village and that is why we opted to hand over anyone within the Village to the Police and for the law to take its course,” he said.
He told the Samoa Observer last week that the Village Council encountered a case where one of the young men in the village was caught with marijuana.
“I will not divulge the quantity, but the matter was addressed during our meeting last month and we informed this young man’s family of the situation at hand.
“The law is the law, however in order for it to be fully implemented, the Police needs assistance from the Village Council and it’s that notion that Vaimoso has opted to put in place these penalties.
“These are efforts by our village to eliminate the drug problem in Samoa, let alone Vaimoso,” said Aulavemai.
He hopes their efforts will be considered by other villages to assure that Samoa is safe from harm.
“We will not tell any Village Council what to do, but we merely advise to consider why we have been tasked to oversee our villages and that is to put policies in place to assure the safety of the people.
“And of course that means making hard decisions, but this will benefit all not just a few.”
According to the High Chief, Samoa’s Chiefly System is one of a kind and it’s there to protect the villagers.
“Our chiefly system is our traditional indigenous form of governance, if anything can govern our villages, set up policies and live by them, it’s that.
“And at this time and age, we have the laws in place and these two should go hand in hand - the Village Councils working together with the Police - this is the purpose of our existence.
“We should not live in fear of anything or any problems,” said Aulavemai.