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Executive Summary

Samoa is a constitutional parliamentary democracy that incorporates traditional practices into its governmental system. Although the unicameral parliament is elected by universal suffrage, only matai (family chiefs) may be members. After a months-long political impasse following April 9 parliamentary elections, Fiame Naomi Mata’afa became the country’s first female prime minister. The elections were free and fair on the day, but post-election disputes and the resulting impasse caused some observers to question the legitimacy of the electoral process.

The national police, under the Ministry of Police, Prisons, and Correction Services, maintain internal security. Civilian authorities maintained effective control over the security forces. There were no credible reports that members of the security forces committed abuses.

Significant human rights issues included credible reports of: the existence of criminal libel laws; lack of investigation of and accountability for sexual and gender-based violence, including domestic and intimate partner violence, child abuse, sexual abuse of children, incest, sexual violence, and other harmful practices; existence of laws criminalizing consensual same-sex sexual conduct between adults, although the law was not enforced; and existence of the worst forms of child labor.

The government took steps to prosecute officials who committed human rights abuses and corruption. There were no reports of impunity for human rights abuses. Impunity for corruption was rare.

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U.S. Department of State

The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future