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Attorney-General v Maumasi

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Court/Judicial body: Court of Appeal of Samoa
Date: August 27, 1999 CRC
Provisions: Article 37: Torture and Deprivation of Liberty
Domestic provisions: Criminal Procedure Act 1972 Judicature Ordinance 1961

Case summary

Background: The Attorney General sued to increase a sentence of three and a half years’ imprisonment imposed by the trial court on a 41 year old male found guilty of manslaughter of his eight year old step child.

Issue and resolution: Violence against children. The Court agreed that the sentence should be increased to five years’ imprisonment.

Court reasoning: A child has the right not to be subjected to cruel treatment or punishment. This was a particularly serious case of physical abuse, in this case inflicted by a step parent, as the beating that led to the child’s death was premeditated and the fatal injuries were inflected directly. Hence, a more severe sentence was necessary to reflect the gravity of the offence.

Excerpt citing CRC and other relevant human rights “[T]he Convention on The Rights of the Child, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations in 1989 and ratified (with an immaterial exception by Samoa in 1994, includes the right not to be subjected to cruel treatment or punishment ( Article 37). All Samoan Courts should have regard to this Convention in cases within its scope.”

CRIN comments: CRIN believes this decision is consistent with the CRC in that laws prohibiting violence against children must be enforced, and offences committed against children must be treated with the same gravity as those committed against adults.

Citation: Att’y Gen. v Maumasi (WSCA 1999)

Link to full judgement: