The Office of the Attorney General writes

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The Attorney General’s office has opened a legislative file as a result of the reporting of the death of Jeanine Tuivaiki.

Attorney General states: “This is to do with suggested suicides, and how the reporting of this can be appropriately guided by law. 

“The aim is to produce in consultation with the community, legal guidelines for the reporting of suicide in Samoa because we do not have any at present.

Requirements recognised by law in other countries, and internationally by the UNDP, for example: giving notice and obtaining the consent of the family, quoting only the family, not mentioning the method and not picturing the deceased, together with a community based motive or purpose for the report, are the best starting point for discussions. 

“There would need to be a requirement to publish the contact details of the appropriate community support groups, as an attachment to the story. There are laws that deal with defaming persons publically, but none that refer directly to a situation where suicide is suggested in a publication.” 

“Government has been very clear, freedom of the press is sacred and must be protected. Therefore, this effort will aim to introduce rules that other countries have, that do not hinder the media, but rather guide it’s efforts when dealing specifically with this highly sensitive and emotional issue. The intention is for it to be subsequently referred to the Samoa Law Reform Commissioner’s office to allow wider public consultation.

This will allow community groups such as Fa’ataua Le Ola and JAWS to take part, and articulate their views and consider any responsibilities they can and should commit to.” 

“The prayer here is that the tough lessons experienced by all involved and the wider community, can result in a positive set of legal guidelines for the future.”

© Samoa Observer 2016

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