Ombudsman, Maiava Iulai Toma, and Commissioner of Police, Fuiavailili Egon Keil, signed an important agreement yesterday.
The Memorandum of Understanding (M.O.U) lays out the working relationship between the Ministry of Police and the newly established Special Investigations Unit (S.I.U).
The S.I.U was established by the Ombudsman (Special Investigation Unit) Regulations 2015 as part of the Office of the Ombudsman to independently monitor complaints against the police and other prescribed forces.
Its role in relation to the police is to work alongside the Professional Standards Unit, which handles complaints against officers.
“The role of the Special Investigation Unit is to strengthen the P.S.U by monitoring its investigations, providing advice and independently handling cases where there may be a conflict of interest or other reason to do so,” Maiava said.
The M.O.U signed by the two parties (and endorsed by the Attorney General), defines the working relationship between the S.I.U and the P.S.U to ensure effectiveness between the two agencies.
Commissioner Fuiavailili said the agreement is an important step.
“Any accountable Police force requires a level of independent oversight,” he said. “In signing this M.O.U we not only recognise but embrace this and the working relationship with the Ombudsman’s office it creates – it can only help Samoa to develop an even stronger and more effective law enforcement agency.”
The M.O.U comes into effect immediately and the Office of the Ombudsman is currently in the final stages of appointing its first Investigations Officer to the S.I.U.