29 Jan 2003

Samoa's minister of justice sets up new law reform commission

9:19 am on 29 January 2003

Samoa's minister of Justice, Seumanu Aika Ah Wa, says the new Law Reform Commission will address the conflict between traditional customs and Christianity.

The commission is currently advertising for staff.

The comments come after several instances where village chiefs or matais used traditional custom to exile people who professed belief in new denominations.

When the matter has come before the justice system, the court, in several cases ruled that freedom of religion was guaranteed by the constitution and matai had no right to use their traditional authority to tell villagers how they should worship.

The government has yet to announce an outright backing of the constitution when it comes to religious matters.

The prime minister, Tuilaepa Sailele, has said the issue will be left with cabinet which will consider it and report back to the house.