Monday, March 16, 2009

Dispute Resolution in Samoa

Samoa Dispute resolution can take different forms around the world.  I have found some of the most interesting forms of dispute resolution in the Pacific Islands, ranging from ho'o'ponopono in Hawaii to ifoga in Samoa.

The March 14 2009 issue of the Samoa Observer (published in Apia, Somoa) reports that a Somoan village hase rejected the traditional apology (ifoga) presented by the family of Vaiotu Mulitalo Siafausa Vui to the village of Vaimoso.  (It is a very rare event when an ifoga is rejected.)  Instead of accepting the traditional apology, a village matai (a high-ranking chief) instead ordered the former Cabinet Minister, his wife and children to leave the village.  Here is a summary from the East-West Center in Honolulu:

Vaiotu is being punished for a string of indiscrepancies in his wife’s village.  “This man should have been banished a long time ago, he has ruined the village’s good reputation,” Vaimoso spokesman, Aulavemai Tafito Selesele who is a former Member of Parliament, said after the ifoga was rejected. Thirteen years ago, Vaiotu was ostracised because he called a village meeting.  He was not the rightful authority to do so.  Recently, village spokespersons say he took part in the bestowal of the Manuleleua title on three persons.  Again as a Vaiotu, especially one married into the village, he acted beyond his authority.  He has also been accused of brandishing a gun over a land dispute last year.  Two weeks ago, Vaiotu was banished from Vaimoso for “unfounded” statements he made to the media concerning the reason for his ostracism in 1999.  He refused to leave.  The village council then decided to mete a punishment called mu le foaga, where one’s house and belongings are burned.  Fortunately for him, ministers of religion and police intervened, after which the matter was referred to court.

Click here for more about this story.


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