NZ and Australia train Samoan police in public order management | Pacific Beat

NZ and Australia train Samoan police in public order management

NZ and Australia train Samoan police in public order management

Updated 11 December 2012, 9:40 AEST

Police from New Zealand and Australia have just returned from a two-week advisory visit to Samoa.

The officers were invited by the Samoan government following the unrest over a land dispute at Satapuala Village, near Faleolo International Airport.

That was back in August, and the government wanted some guidance as to whether the police response had been the right one.

Presenter:Geraldine Coutts

Speaker:Dr Stephen Henningham, Australia's High Commissioner to Samoa

HENNINGHAM: The Satapuala dispute was over land issues related to the delivery of a hospital on land that the government owned which the village claims was taken unfairly and without proper compensation from it several decades ago.

COUTTS: And so are there two issues here; that the dispute escalated, or is it because of the way the local police handled it?

HENNINGHAM: I think your underlying assumption is not entirely accurate in the sense that it was not just this one incident, it wasn't an inquiry into the handling of that particular incident. It was more that the fact that there had been a disturbance there and the police had intervened and managed the situation highlighted the fact that there was a need to look at how the police handled large demonstrations and events. And so within that broader context that the advisory group visited Samoa. So it wasn't a specific inquiry into the Satapuala incident, and indeed the group didn't visit Satapuala and that wasn't the focus of the exercise.

COUTTS: So had there been an issue with the way police had managed larger demonstrations?

HENNINGHAM: Well the point was I think there'd been the Satapuala incident and there'd been over the years other incidents of concern. I mean in the broader context Samoa is a calm and peaceful place, but these things can and do happen. And so there had been two or three incidents over the last couple of years where there had been tensions, in some cases resulting in demonstrations and protests. So it was more a question of looking at police capacity and underlying policy in terms of handling these incidents.

COUTTS: And so there needs to be a different approach or that the police could handle them better?

HENNINGHAM: I think the latter, that there was scope for improvement review and further training in order to develop a capacity of police to handle these sorts of incidents, and more generally in terms of public and crowd management issues.

COUTTS: And so do you know what the contribution was from the police from New Zealand and Australia on their two advisory visits to Samoa?

HENNINGHAM: Well yes they worked together with Samoan counterparts, and they were looking first of all at the broad policy for how police handle these sorts of incidents, and there's been quite a bit of work done on that over recent months, and just to fine-tune those and make sure that those guidelines were carefully worked through. And secondly, to look at potential training opportunities, what the training needs might be. And this will carry forward into the provision of a report early next year, 2013, and at that time there'll be further discussions about what assistance Australia and New Zealand may be able to provide. I mean putting it in the broader context there's already been a significant amount of training for the Samoan police with management of demonstrations and large crowds. There was training in advance of the 50th anniversary of independence celebrations on 1 June this year, which were handled very well. There were tens of thousands of people in the street and very happy, friendly crowd and all went very quietly. But before that, there'd been training both in public order management in general, and in addition there'd been training provided for the planning of large events. So there is a background of training and capacity building support, and this recent mission in a scoping visit is part of that continuing process.

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